12 With the help of Silas, whom I regard as a faithful brother, I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it. 13 She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you her greetings, and so does my son Mark. 14 Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.
1 Peter 5:8-14
Over this Pentecost season, we’ve been in the book of 1 Peter. We’ve learned what it is to be People of God. Strangers on this earth. Heirs of heaven. Holy in God’s sight and imperishable. Hungry for God and revelling in being chosen by Him! People of God serve as citizens, employees, and spouses. They are saved, but remain clear minded through suffering always remembering you are in this together!
It’s nice, isn’t it? Nice to be People of God.
Have you ever gotten one of those urgent emails from your In-Store Credit Card company? WARNING: You are about to lose your membership benefits! Your account has been inactive and unless you buy something in the next three months, we’ll close your credit card membership and you’ll lose all your privileges: No more rewards points. No more special deals. No more ability to buy things without having any money. No more privilege of paying them 25% interest on all purchases!
This morning at the end of Peter’s letter – the Apostle leaves us with a similar warning. He wants Christians everywhere – he wants me; he wants you – to remain a person of God and continue to enjoy all the privileges associated with it. Today he warns us of One whose very goal is the destruction of your faith! Listen then to his warning as he tells us to stand FIRM.
I. Why to Stand Firm
Peter wants us to stand firm in faith. Read verses 8-10 with me. “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”
The first striking command is to be alert and of sober mind. To be alert is to be awake. It’s to be watchful. To be ready for anything.
With our new puppy, I’ve been learning to be alert. I fell asleep for a 15 minute nap this past week and awoke to 5 shoes out on the floor, some ripped up toilet paper and a few little presents beside. Had I been alert, this wouldn’t have happened.
Peter wants you to be alert so that you don’t lose your spot in the People of God. He wants you to pay attention so that you remain saved. He wants you to be aware so that you can prevent someone from taking these privileges from you!
But…you might ask…who would want to take these privileges from me?
The answer is as simple as it is scary: THE DEVIL.
He is the father of lies. The demon of destruction. The one who caused humanity to fall into sin. The one who brought death into the world. The one who brought pain into the world. The one who tempted the people at the time of Noah’s flood to continue to rebel against God and face their own destruction. The one who came into Judas and caused him to betray Jesus. The one who has caused countless people to disregard God and join him in hell!
He’s as formidable a foe now as he was in that ancient garden long ago.
Pay attention to what Peter calls the devil in verse 8. He calls him “your enemy.” He doesn’t call him God’s enemy, although he is. But Peter’s stress here is that he is YOUR enemy. He hates you.
“Jesus loves me this I know.” That’s what the children’s song says. We don’t sing a song for the devil. But if we would, do you know what it would say, “Satan hates me this I know…”
Don’t get me wrong. There are times when it feels like the devil is the good guy. “He just wants me to have fun. God’s the One who’s a prude. God needs to lighten up on his hatred for sin…it isn’t that bad.” We picture him like the cool guy enlightening us on how to live the good life.
BUT THAT IS NOT THE DEVIL! Make no mistake about it: THE DEVIL HATES YOU!
And this hate isn’t something to scoff at. Notice Peter doesn’t call him an “annoyed rabbit.” He doesn’t call him a “frightened Chihuahua.” He doesn’t call him “a declawed kitty that doesn’t like you all that much.” Peter calls him “a roaring lion…prowling…looking for someone to devour.” Ruthless. Powerful. Dangerous.
Tell me, would you like to cuddle with a hungry lion that hasn’t eaten for days?
Be even more frightened as the devil. He is that dangerous! Because listen again to his end game, “He is looking for someone to devour,” “to completely swallow up.” But the devil isn’t interested in physical food; he feeds on souls.
Think of those National Geographic specials where they show the unfortunate carcass of the slowest antelope as the lion has antelope hanging from his lips.
This is the very real picture of what the devil wants to happen to your soul! He wants you to disown God, abandon your faith, turn to sin, and spend forever in terrible torment of his lair – hell itself. He wants to tear apart your obedience to God, to rip to shred’s your faith in Jesus, to devour any hope of heaven that remains, and feast on your fear, doubt, and hatred!
Peter says, “Resist him!” But rather than just saying it, I feel like Peter could be shouting it like a safari guide whose tourists have gotten too close, “Resist him! Resist him…..because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”
The call is urgent. The devil is dangerous. The devil is vengeful. The devil is…here.
Look at our scary world.
I heard this past week about a group of Christians in Nepal. In Nepal these Christians are viewed as the lowest class of society. They are the bottom of the cast system. It is illegal to share your faith there and could result in prison.
It isn’t the worst is it? Beheadings in the Middle East. Imprisonment in China. Hatred in Africa.
But don’t forget about the United States – where the devil presents a sneakier front. The Bible mocked. Sexual sin at new levels of perversity. Social media encouraging everyone to disavow the real God of the Bible. Unbelief in America is climbing at an incredible rate!
"The most dangerous trick the devil ever played is in getting people to believe that he doesn't exist!"
Isn't that America? And isn't that true for you too? It's dangerous out there. Dangerous FOR YOU!
So…I need you to answer this question for yourself: Are you ready? Are you prepared?
We should go on a field trip. Let’s drive up and down Falls of Neuse, there are a lot of churches. If you head over to Six Forks, you could add even more. But what do they look like right now on a Sunday morning? Bustling and filled with People of God getting ready to fight the devil?
Or empty. Half full. Hard to notice that there’s anything going on as you drive on by?
Actually, we could probably play a decent game of kick ball in our parking lot – and for the ball? Why not roll up all the papers from our church mailboxes of people who haven’t been here in awhile, because it doesn’t seem all that important.
Would some of your papers be used?
Brothers and sisters WAKE UP! If you think the devil isn’t a big deal, wake up and resist him! Stop sinning. Stop ignoring God’s call. Hear God’s message and stand firm against the foe!
II. How to Stand Firm
Of course, you might be feeling a little nervous right about now. The devil sounds like an awful foe. And to be honest – I’m no match for him. His temptations are too strong. The doubts are too much. He’s worked on former Christian after former Christian – even member of my family. How can I withstand him? How can I defeat. I don’t stand a chance alone!
You’re right. Our frail human flesh cannot withstand the wily and dangerous traps of the hellfire breathing dragon himself. Not alone.
But you aren’t alone.
The God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. (v.10-11)
Do you not remember who you are? You are the People of God. As people of God that means you are of God! He is with you. And he will support you.
What is our military campaign doing against ISIS right now? They are sending air support. Drones that are dropping bombs with the goal of helping the people of Iraq defeat the terrorists there.
God is the support you need in fighting the devil. Only he doesn’t miss. He doesn’t accidently hit citizens. He doesn’t have all kinds of squabble and politics tying up each and every time you ask him for help.
Peter says, Cast all your anxiety on him because He cares for you! And His help is swift. It’s quick. It’s powerful.
Take note this support from God comes by his grace! That’s why it says, “The God of all grace.” Be careful, because it’s easy to think, “He’ll help me when I show him I’m worthy of being helped.”
But that’s not real grace. That’s like “If you earn it, then possibly I’ll think you’ll worthwhile enough to help you” grace.
Remember this is how Jesus worked. Scripture says, “When we were dead in our sins…God made us alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins!” (Colossians 2:13)
And God isn’t someone who loves you, but can only send the occasional letter of encouragement that helps you out sometime.
God is powerful. All powerful. “To him be the power…forever and ever.” (v.10) The truth is: Satan is powerful, but God is more powerful. He doesn’t say God has a little power, a bit of power, or some power. He doesn’t say he will have this power in the future OR only for a limited time.
He has all the power – which is way more than necessary to defeat Satan – and Jesus has it now and forever.
Here’s a little math for you:
The Devil > You.
God > Devil (Because I don't know if there is a mathematical symbol for "Much greater than.")
You +God > Devil.
Didn’t God already prove this power on the cross? Is that not when he completely destroyed any power that the devil truly had? Did he not defeat sin – which the devil brought into the world? Didn’t he defeat death – another comrade of the devil’s – by walking out of the grave on Easter Sunday morning? Didn’t he stomp on Satan’s power to accuse you? Didn’t he get rid of any excuse the devil had to say, “But they're sinful, God send them to hell!” Did our Lord completely and utterly destroy Satan in every way?
This too is great news. It’s what Peter repeats in verse 11 with his little doxology. To him that’s God, to God be the power for ever and ever. Amen.
Now, it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to pour a bowl full of Wheaties – filled with vitamins and nutrients for a championship day – and then not to eat it. It would also be foolish, if you made a delicious meal of pasta for the marathon you had coming up, but you didn’t eat a single noodle.
It is equally – and even more foolish than that — to avoid God. It is just as foolish to stay apart from His Word where he gives our faith the nutrients it needs to stay in faith. It does harm to not run to church and receive the service prepared like a pasta dinner for a runner in order to convict you of sin, strengthen you in faith, and keep you standing firm forever!
So -- run to God. Get the strength you need. And listen to his promise once more, “The God of all grace...will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”
Now we come to the final words of 1 Peter. Verses 12-14. And as we look at them we are reminded – this letter – this script we’ve been following throughout summer – is no story. It is no fantasy. It is not the end of a historical fiction novel.
With the help of Silas, whom I regard as a faithful brother, I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it. 13 She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you her greetings, and so does my son Mark.
A very real letter to very real people. People of God. A letter from people of God (Mark, Peter, and Silas) to people of God – Christians everywhere, Christians here. You.
And this very real letter to very real people from the very real Apostle of Christ? It is has the very real blessing of the very real Savior of the World – of the very real God himself.
People of God. Listen to these words and receive their very real blessing.
Stand fast in God’s Word.
Greet one another with a kiss of love.
Peace to all of you who are in Christ.