A beloved former colleague of mine is known for his pithy quotes from a variety of sources including his oft-repeated “Resistance is futile.” He shared this on many occasions, and despite his hermeneutical expertise, his comment was often ‘out-of-context.’ (You can laugh here!)
When it comes to dealing with the enemy of our souls, resistance is NOT futile–in fact, it’s necessary!
“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” (1 Peter 5:8-9)
Believers in Christ need to keep all of their faculties attuned to spiritual reality. Carelessness and indiscretion in small areas today leads to larger issues tomorrow. I’ve found the failure in ‘small battles’ today often leads to ‘major defeat’ tomorrow in Satan’s strategy of attack.
Consider the Allied forces you just sought a beach-head, a place to land on the shores of Europe so they could begin their advance and ultimate conquest. Wise generals reasoned that if they just gained a ‘foothold’ and concentrated their efforts on this, they would achieve victory.
Satan, spoken of as ‘the devil’ in verse 8 is a long-term strategist. He is a careful planner and watches for ‘footholds’ and ‘vulnerable prey.’ He is prowling, like a roaring lion–a remarkable analogy considering what so many Roman Christians experienced in the Colisseum.
He is prowling. His ‘eyes’ seek out opportunities, but even the weakest Christ-follower who remains self-controlled and alert, with God’s help is able to resist. Planned ongoing resistance is necessary in order for this ‘roaring lion’ to move on to someone else. Peter urges these Christians to remember their fellow believers scattered throughout the then known world who were experiencing the same kind of suffering.
As Jesus demonstrated in his intensive season of spiritual conflict, recorded for us in Matthew 4 and Luke 4, the word of God is central as a defensive weapon. “It is written…” is a preface we should repeatedly use, followed by a battery of memorized, battle texts. Match the temptations in your life with the specific Scriptural antitodes and you will discover, as James writes in his letter, the devil will flee.
Martin Luther understood this same truth didn’t he as he penned ‘A Mighty Fortress is Our God!” Read it and rejoice …. “one little word shall fell him.”
1. A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
our helper he amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing.
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
his craft and power are great, and armed with cruel hate,
on earth is not his equal.
2. Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing,
were not the right man on our side, the man of God’s own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is he;
Lord Sabaoth, his name, from age to age the same,
and he must win the battle.
3. And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
we will not fear, for God hath willed his truth to triumph through us.
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
his rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure;
one little word shall fell him.
4. That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
the Spirit and the gifts are ours, thru him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
the body they may kill; God’s truth abideth still;
his kingdom is forever.