When the famous Maasai warriors in Kenya notice the sheep they are tending are suddenly skittish and that a patch of grass isn’t swaying with the wind, they know there’s a lion close by.
So what do they do? They know not to run—either at or away from a lion. Instead, the warriors form a group and start making noise to agitate the lion. Then, when the lion attacks, they band together. I heard of one warrior who showed a visiting missionary some scars on his chest from where a lion had attacked him. The warrior said, “When the lion fell on me, my fellow warriors fell on the lion.” The lion was killed; the brothers were not.
The Apostle Peter told the early church of another lion that is on the hunt for our souls and not our bodies: “Be sober-minded, be alert. Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour” (1 Peter 5:8 CSB).
The word “sober” meant in Peter’s day what it means today: Don’t be drunk. Peter issues this warning three times throughout his letter, and that’s not accidental. Many people under stress and in hard times drown their problems in alcohol—but you cannot afford to do that when there is an enemy always at work trying to destroy you.
“Sober” also means to see the world clearly. In his book The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis said that Christians make two primary mistakes in regard to Satan: Some people give Satan too much credit, where they blame him for any sin in their life. On the other side—and perhaps even more problematic—are those who don’t recognize Satan at all.
You may think your child just made some bad choices and got in with the wrong friends. You may think you’re just having a tough time in your arguments with your spouse or friends. You may think you just need a little more discipline to spend time reading your Bible.
All of that may be true. But don’t neglect how Satan could be at work there, too. He’s roaring everywhere.
Lions have two modes: stealth when they are hunting their prey and roar when they have them. Lions only roar when they feel like they have won. Peter says we can hear Satan roaring in every part of the world. If you can’t hear him roaring in your life, it’s because he’s in stealth mode.
Many Christians are totally unaware of Satan’s active role in their lives. They don’t pray much or stay close to God. They compromise with sin and give Satan a foothold. To which Peter says, Be alert!
Satan Is Strong, Jesus Is Stronger
The odds of being attacked by a shark are one in 3.7 million, and people still don’t get in the water for fear of a shark attack. The odds of a grizzly bear attack are one in 2.1 million, and people still don’t go in the woods. Your chances of being attacked by a supernatural lion? One out of one—and yet you still don’t live aware of that? Satan is either roaring or in stealth mode, but he’s always active.
That may seem pretty overwhelming, but Peter says you can overcome Satan—not because you are stronger than him but because Jesus has defeated him. On the cross, Jesus said, “It is finished.” Revelation 20:9 tells us about the final battle between Satan and Jesus and—spoiler alert—it’s not a big fight. In fact, it’s a little anticlimactic. It takes about a second for Jesus to speak and for the fight to be over.
You can bring that confidence into the fight you are facing today.
You don’t need to fear Satan, but you should also not ignore him. You have to fight him, and not with the weapons of the flesh, like your personality, your wisdom, or your resolve. That’s like bringing a knife to a gunfight.
You need the weapons of the Spirit: Pray frequently. Walk in step with God. Be in community and share your burdens. Repent and confess your sin often. Memorize God’s Word. Don’t just give in and go along with culture. Keep doing the right thing. Fight to stay faithful.
The Christian life is hard. It’s far better than the alternatives, but it’s not necessarily easier. In fact, following Jesus sometimes intensifies the hardship you live with. But there is more to this life than just surviving a cruel, chaotic world.
There is full life in Jesus. Only when we are mindful of the ongoing fight against Satan can we be fully aware of the victory we have in the cross. Then, we can band together to defeat sin in our lives and thrive in the hard days.