Spiritual Warfare

“Be sober, be vigilant because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about seeking who he may devour.”  – 1 Peter 5:8

As a woman I have never thought of myself in terms of battle… until I became a Christian.  But how very sobering it is to imagine the visual image of the passage above… The devil is like a roaring lion seeking his prey.  According to Wikipedia, the average male lion weighs in at about 550 pounds, and is the second largest cat on earth.  Fierce, and muscular, with sharp teeth that can rip apart prey, lions are very dangerous.  Oddly, in nature it is the female, or lioness that is the hunter and gatherer for the family.  It seems quite impossible to imagine how I would feel or react if I were to encounter a lion in the wild.  Run, and the lion believes it is game on.  Stand still, and the lion may think that dinner is served.  There is no escaping the strength and cunning of a lion…in the earthly sense.

But in the spiritual sense we have a much greater power… God Almighty.

This passage gives us clarity on what we must do to avoid being prey for the devil…. be sober and be diligent.  Lets consider these two words more carefully.  They are commands.

Sober – greek: nēphō – a verb, to be calm in spirit, circumspect, temperate, to watch

Sober is used in the new testament 6 times – each as an action verb – a call to take great care of your life, your thoughts, your surroundings.  Two of the verses reference putting on the armour of God, gearing up for battle. (1 Thes 5:8 and 1 Peter 1:13)

Vigilant  – greek: grēgoreō – a verb, to watch, to be actively cautious, and to take heed so that no calamity befall you. Emphasis is on active, continual watch. 

Vigilant is used in the new testament 24 times – again action verb – calling us to wake up, to pay great attention, to watch with every effort.  This word is used by Jesus when he admonished us to look for his return, and of his followers to stay with him and watch and pray in the garden before his betrayal.  He encourages us today to watch for him, watch for his return.

I have always associated sober with clear thinking – not tainted by alcohol, drugs or distractions.  And vigilant has always been associated in my mind with persistance.  It is an action that continues… it is ongoing. In the context of spiritual warfare these are two key characteristics of a Christian that are critical…

Spiritual warfare is no strange thing.  It is not reserved for the few, the leaders of the world, and the church.  It is a normal part of Christian life.  For every Christian!  Paul assumes that every Christian is under regular, spiritual assault.  It is a normal part of the Christian life.  It is true.  And it is true for you.  

-S Eldridge, Captivating pg 28

Attacks of our thoughts, physical illness, relationships, economics… every imaginable way the enemy would want to defeat us, or knock us down will come.  But we have the power of Almighty God and the protection of his Spirit, his Armour, his Word, and his Presence.  We are not alone but we must be sober- clear thinking, and vigilant – relentless, as we watch and pray.

Jesus, we come to you today with the weight of this world all around us.  We bring the issues of our health, our finances, our minds, our spirits, our families, relationships, employment… and every aspect of our lives to you.  We ask you by your mighty power to cause the enemy to flee from us and grant us your peace, your presence and your provision for this battle.  We stand in the strength of you, Oh Lord, knowing that you have defeated this enemy, and he has no place in our lives.  By your power lift our eyes to you, and grant us your strength in the battle.  amen.

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