Section One: The Spiritual Characteristics of a Godly Life.
Our current theme: Characteristic Three: Being Victorious.
Our reading for today: 1st Peter 5: 8-11 (MsgB)
Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, He does.
This week and next, we’re discussing the victorious life in Christ and the major threats to living that life here on Planet Earth. As I suggested earlier, the Just Do It crowd tells us that you and I should focus exclusively on two things:
1) Resist Satan. 2) Stop sinning.
Not bad advice, but as I see it, a very short-sided approach and one we’ll take on a bit more next week. In the meantime, we do completely agree with the first step of resisting Satan. Last time, we offered you an overview of how you and I might, indeed, keep Lucifer at bay. And here in 1st Peter today, we are encouraged as well to:
1) Stay alert. 2) Keep up our guard.
Without a doubt, important advice from one who knew first hand how Satan can so easily come and “sift” us, tempting us away from the truths we believe about both Christ and ourselves, as followers of Him.
Indeed, the Devil is a major threat to our lives here on planet earth, and if he had his way, he’d also be a threat to our eternal existence with God as well. But as we discussed last time, Satan, while a formidable foe and certainly worthy of our respect, is not unstoppable by any means. You see, Satan, in a sense, is limited by the fact that he is God’s devil.
What do I mean by that?
You see, like all human beings, he is not an eternal being. Only the Triune God has that unique honor. Satan is simply a created being. The Bible refers to him as an angel of light who was created by God out of God’s goodness, but apparently, at some point long before the Earth was created, went sour by believing himself to be equal to God. And it’s this false concept of grasping equality with God that got Lucifer and his buddies thrown out of God’s Holy Presence, free to run about creation, thinking they are on their own, far outside God’s dominion. But nothing could be further from the truth.
The Bible states that Satan and his demonic friends are actually on a very short leash that is held in God’s control. C.S. Lewis described it well when he compared Satan to being a mortally-wounded, rabid bulldog, chained by a strong stake to the ground; and because of the cross of Christ, is certain to die at some point in the future when Jesus returns, culminating the eternal reign of God’s Kingdom. But just as you and I should stay away from such an angry animal, lest he take a lunge at us, ripping our flesh with his big teeth, we should do likewise with this dying, but still very dangerous, entity called Lucifer.
If you recall, I earlier defined our enemy to living the victorious Christian life, as a hideous two-headed monster, of which the first head is Satan himself. But now, it’s time to turn our attention to that second head, which quite honestly, will be much harder to stay away from!
Because this second enemy is not like Satan, the bulldog that can be separated from us by simply moving away from him. No, this second bully is one that actually lies deep within each one of us. And it’s the cause of sin-sickness and the main reason we fall prey to the cunning lies of Satan.
The enemy is Self.
And next week, we’ll unpack the details, and hopefully you and I will walk away with a much clearer picture of the battle that is set before us.
You see the two-headed monster of Satan & Self can, indeed, be defeated. But only in the ways Jesus of Nazareth demonstrated for us. More on that next time.
My prayer: Jesus, it’s crystal clear from the Scriptures that Satan is a limited foe. Your work on the cross has brought both our freedom and Satan’s demise. But until the full culmination of Your Kingdom, Lucifer is still a dangerous beast I must avoid at all cost. Holy Spirit keep me alert and on my guard. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: Am I fully awake to all of the warfare going on around me? Am I alert to Satan’s strategies? On guard for his attack? What do I need to do to shore up my defenses, keeping myself closer to Jesus rather than believing I can make it on my own?
So what is God speaking to you today as we attempt to live the Christ-centered life?
Over a thirty-six week period, you and I will take a deeper look into twelve key characteristics of a godly life. In other words, we’ll take A Journey into Christian Discipleship. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Journey home page for ease of use. ENJOY!
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