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1 Peter 5:6-9

1 Peter 5:6-9
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“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith…”

1 Peter 5:6-9


What does it mean for Satan to “devour” a Christian like a ravenous lion? Well, Peter’s call to resist him “firm in your faith,” implies that the devouring imagined here is one that consumes faith. For someone to be so devoured would mean that faith crumbles, that faith gives way, that—like Peter himself on the night of Christ’s betrayal—faith falls before the fearful onslaught of this diabolical lion. This is the devouring that Peter—now reinstated by resurrecting grace—warns his readers against.

In this picture, then, Satan roars in the background like a lion intent on devouring the wayward believer. However, the saint is pictured as resisting the devil’s assaults “firm in his faith”. Notice that this resistance is not some brazen spiritual warfare, but rather is a child-like, desperate dependence on the crucified and risen Jesus Christ. As we humble ourselves under (or, in this case, “within”) the mighty hand of God—receiving what difficulties God’s sovereign wisdom ordains and casting the cares stirred up by those difficulties back onto the heart of love that decreed them for our good—we are resisting Satan firm in our faith.

See also that the hand of Christ (representing both His person and the work of His death,  resurrection, and present reign) not only hides the Christian as a sure refuge, but also holds the bit and bridle in Satan’s mouth. Yes, the devil is an enemy, yes, he is opposed to God and to his people and has power to destroy the body, but he is—at every step—bound by the leash of God’s sovereign will….and for the one trusting in Jesus Christ, that will is only, ever, and always good.

To emphasize this point, I pictured the bit and bridle that bind Satan as being the cross of Christ and the cords of His atoning blood. This represents the fact that Satan’s damning assault against us was absorbed by the Beloved Son on the cross. Because Jesus bore our sins in his own body on the tree (1 Peter 2:24), the “jaws” of the devil’s condemning accusations closed on the Holy One instead of us. With His death, Jesus stripped Satan of his power to condemn (Hebrews 2:14), and with His resurrection He bound Satan with cords of atoning blood so that—try as he might—the arch-fiend will never be able to finally harm the Bride of Christ.

However, that does not mean Satan’s assaults (or those of a world lying in his power) will not harm us. See that both the roaring lion and trusting saint are framed in the background by the circular black stone that sealed Christ’s tomb. This reminds us that we are still—bodily—in the sphere of death…and Satan (as the one who, under God, has the power of death) may still kill our bodies. However, notice that the stone is rolling away. Our Lord and God became flesh and passed through death into life so that we can be invincibly confident that—in Him—life and joy will be the end of our song (again, Hebrews 2:14ff).

So—may we not ignore the fact that we have an adversary….that the devil indeed does prowl around seeking to devour our faith. But, knowing this, may we resist his assaults (painful though they may be), knowing that our Lord and God has borne the damning teeth of this lion in His own flesh and has torn them out at the roots; and that, standing in victory, He Himself holds Satan’s leash and will not allow him to lastingly harm even a hair of His Bride’s head….May she—may we—be faithful unto death, and so receive the crown of life.