We wish that Satan were not real. The Christian life is hard enough on its own without having to do daily battle against an invisible spiritual enemy bent on our destruction and misery. We already wrestle against our own sin, the sin of others, and the trials of living in a fallen, sin-cursed world. This spiritual struggle is a good thing, because it is a sign that we are alive in Christ, fighting to put to death our old sinful nature and live the new life of the Spirit. But Peter reminds us today that our battles as believers are also made harder because of the work of our ancient adversary, called “Satan” and the “devil” and many other names in the Bible. Some professing Christians choose not to believe in the devil. But that does not make him any less real. Read any of the gospels and you will see the activity of Satan and his demons all over the place, constantly opposing Christ and His ministry. Read Acts and see the devil moving human enemies to oppose the missionaries and the spread of the gospel. As C.S. Lewis has said in Mere Christianity and The Screwtape Letters, we err both when we pretend that the devil is not real and when we paint imaginary pictures of him in our media and minds as a mischievous little red creature with a tail and horns.
The real Satan of the Bible is a fallen angel, a deceiver of the human race and both our enemy and the enemy of our Father in heaven. He blinds lost people to their true spiritual condition, leading them unknowingly down the broad road that leads to hell. Once a person believes in Jesus Christ as Savior and is born again by receiving the Holy Spirit, Satan then switches tactics. He tempts us toward sin, and he afflicts us with doubts about our relationship with God. He tries to prevent our growth in Christ and steal our joy. And he also acts like a “roaring lion,” assaulting our faith with fiery trials and persecutions. We are told that we must always be on guard against the attacks of his demonic forces (“be sober, be vigilant”) which can come at any time. We must “resist him” by clinging to Christ in prayer and by learning and believing the promises of Scripture. And we must stick close with other Christians who also experience his attacks. Once you’re saved, you’re in the war. There is no choice about it.
I wish that all of this were not so. It is not enjoyable to wake up each day and have to put on the armor of God and go to war. I wish that you as middle and high school students did not have to fight this same ugly fight that your teachers and parents fight each day. Our whole culture says that we should just let you be carefree teenagers, enjoying “adolescence,” a time that is always fun and without worries. But that is not what the Bible teaches, nor is it what I have observed in 13 years of teaching in Christian schools. The Bible teaches that Satan is real and does attack believers of all ages. The concepts of “teenagers” and “adolescence” do not exist in the Bible. Instead, boys and girls become young men and young women around age 12, and parents are told to train you up in the fear and knowledge of the Lord. As your teachers, our job is to help your parents and your churches teach you how to fight the good fight of faith now, before the stakes become too serious. And that includes acknowledging Satan and his demonic strategies so that you can learn how to live strong, becoming totally “steadfast in the faith.”
The Text (1 Peter 5:8-9)
8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.
Questions to Think About
1. Why do you think that Satan wants people to either not believe he exists or to imagine him as a cartoonish figure? How has your understanding of who Satan really is changed since you were a little kid?
2. Are you aware of the common temptations and attacks that Satan has been using against you? Once you become aware of your spiritual weaknesses, you can seek help from more mature believers like your parents, pastors, and teachers in directing you to Bible verses and concepts to help you resist the enemy and stand strong in your faith.
3. Do you regularly pray with other Christians to help you in your walk with God? If not, seek out opportunities for this kind of spiritual fellowship in your home, at church, or at school. To be strong in our faith, we need to be gathering with other believers regularly for serious prayer. A teacher can help you find such a group if you ask!