“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)
This grave warning concerning the devil was given not only to young Christians, easily subject to temptations, but also to “the elders which are among you” (v. 1). It often seems, in fact, that Satan’s greatest victories are won when he can cause the fall of a Christian leader, thereby not only destroying that leader’s influence for Christ, but also giving “great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme” (2 Samuel 12:14). The devil is a roaring lion, but he doesn’t come as such. If he did, the intended victim would flee.
He is, above all, the one “which deceiveth the whole world” (Revelation 12:9), “transformed into an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). As he did with Mother Eve, the “subtle” one will insidiously appeal to our pride, or our aesthetic sense, or our appetite, or our desire for material things.
Peter could speak from bitter experience. Satan had desired to “sift you as wheat,” Jesus had told him, but he foolishly boasted that he would stand true (Luke 22:31-34).
No wonder Peter could warn with such urgency: “Be sober, be vigilant.” Note particularly that, in the context, he is especially warning against greed (1 Peter 5:2) and pride (vv. 5-6). We must not allow Satan to “get an advantage of us,” Paul says, “for we are not ignorant of his devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11). Though Satan is deceptive and powerful, we need never fall to his tempting if we simply—along with staying sober and vigilant—“submit [ourselves] therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). HMM