Shelby G. Floyd
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world” (1 Peter 5:8-9).
The author of this divine injunction realized full well the need for children of God to be sober and watchful concerning the activities of the devil. On more than one occasion the devil sought to devour the faith and influence of Peter. After the apostle Peter had spent approximately three years being with Christ, Jesus on one occasion said to him, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren” (Luke 22:31-32).
Peter was very confident of his strength, and he told the Lord that he was ready to go to prison and to die in his behalf; but Peter did not realize the power of the devil to deceive. Jesus understood that power and also the weakness of Peter; and he told Peter that before the cock would Crow that day, he would deny him three times. When Jesus was arrested and taken away by the angry mob, Peter followed the Lord afar off, and later denied that he even knew the Lord. Peter having realized that his faith had failed him, and that he had sinned, went out and wept bitterly.
Today we need to be just as vigilant concerning the activities of the devil as did Peter and the people that lived in his day. The devil is going about seeking to devour the children of God and destroy the church of Christ. The devil is known by many descriptive terms such as Abaddon, Apollyon, Beelzebub, Belisle, the evil one, the Prince of this world, the God of this world, serpent, and many others; but he is spoken of as the devil or Satan more than any other term. Peter described him as, “your adversary the devil.” The word adversary is used forensically to refer to the devil as a prosecuting attorney going before God to slander and to accuse the children of God (Revelation 12:10).
In the book of Job we read,
“Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. And the Lord said to Satan, “From where do you come?” So Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it” (Job 1:6-7).
There was not a man on the earth like Job; he was the best man of his day, and yet, the devil slandered him before God. Job, by his integrity and great faith in God was able to resist the devil and overcome him. Also, in the days of the prophet Zechariah, when Joshua the high priest stood before the Angel of the Lord, Satan was standing right at his side to resist him (Zechariah 3:1).
After the church was established, Ananias and his wife Sapphira, sold a possession. They kept back part of the price of that possession and yet tried to deceive Peter and the whole church by leaving the impression that they were donating the entire price of that possession to the church. Peter said to Ananias, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself” (Acts 5:3)? Ananias and his wife both agreed to tempt the Spirit of the Lord and to lie to God; but it was Satan that filled their hearts to lie to the Holy Spirit.
The devil is the father of all lies. Christ once said to some Jews who claimed to be the children of God,
“You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44).
Ananias and Sapphira spoke a lie, and it was Satan that indirectly was responsible; he tempted them to tell a lie because of their greed for money and the praise of men. Ananias and Sapphira in lying to God aligned themselves to be used by Satan, and because of this they suffered punishment, which is the fate of all those who serve the devil.
Men who are like the devil in their mind and will, who are governed by him and who depend upon him in their thought and action are said to be of the devil. The devil seeks to use men as his agents in carrying out his malignant designs in trying to overthrow the government of God. Jesus stated to the disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things of the elders, chief priests and scribes, and that he would ultimately be killed and be raised the third day. Peter took the Lord aside and severely rebuked him for even saying such a thing, and told the Lord that it would never happen unto him. But Jesus turned and addressed Peter in these words, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men” (Matthew 16:23).
Today the devil is still walking about to and fro, seeking to corrupt the churches of Christ. One of the most popular methods that the devil has today in trying to destroy the church of Christ is an effort to get the churches of Christ to compromise with those that use instrumental music in their worship. He tries to leave the impression that the instrumental music is in the realm of silence, and no more sinful than having a church building.
There is only one way that we can overcome our adversary the devil, and that is by resisting him steadfast in the faith (1 Peter 5:9). James said, “… Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). Our Lord resisted the devil when he was tempted by quoting the Scriptures, and applying them to the case in hand. After he had done that, the devil left him for a season. This is the only legitimate way to resist the devil and his devices. Paul said to the Ephesians, “…put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). It is by taking the sword of the spirit, indeed, the whole armor of God, that we may be able to overcome the principalities, powers and spiritual wickedness in high places that are set against the kingdom of God.
Copyright © 2018 Shelby G. Floyd, All Rights Reserved
Shelby G. Floyd
Heartland Church of Christ
1693 West Main Street
Greenwood, Indiana 46142