Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around
like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
I Peter 5:8
Tears threatened to spill from my eyes as I drove away from the school. The first hour of the day had gone into the toilet faster than juice squirts from a box held in little hands. Another hurried morning of barking orders at my easily distracted children led to yelling, melt downs, and tears.
I’m a horrible mother, I thought.
Here I was, trying to raise my sons to understand and develop the Fruit of the Spirit – patience, kindness, and self-control, among others – and I couldn’t live by example. How could I expect them as children to do something I couldn’t master as an adult?
Despite my best efforts to spend time in the Word and praying daily, I felt like a failure. I thought I was doing enough, so why was I still struggling?
Even with good intentions, I was forgetting something – the enemy.
I Peter 5:8 says he is a lion, prowling around looking for someone to devour. He is lurking around every corner of my life, waiting for just the right moment to pounce. His goal is to plant seeds of doubt that grow into weeds of fear, choking my faith in the hard times. That morning was no different and he made sure I took notice. Thoughts like, I’m failing as a mom, I’ll never get this right, and why do I even try? flooded my mind. It was critical decision time – be devoured by satan or set free by Jesus.
Satan is fully aware of our greatest weaknesses, often more so than we are. Attacking our inadequacies in subtly damaging ways, he gains a foothold into our thoughts, tempting us to entertain negative thinking. As he craftily weaves deception into our minds, we consider his lies as truth – that we are failures, that we will never get it right, and that we should stop trying.
Entertaining the lies of Satan undermines the truth of God’s Word.
Therefore, as the early part of I Peter 5:8 says, we must be alert and of sober mind. We must familiarize ourselves with the character of Satan. Understanding his nature teaches what to expect, preparing us for his attack. John 8:44 says, “When he [Satan] lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” No truth can come from the father of lies.
Jesus understood who he was dealing with during His 40-day fast. He understood His purpose, expected to be tempted, and was prepared:
After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”
Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple.“If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” (Matthew 4:2-7)
Jesus did not converse with the devil but rather refuted his every temptation. We, too have been given the ability to demolish arguments and ideas that set themselves up against the knowledge of God. We can take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Cortinthians 10:5) We can do as Jesus and direct satan to flee:
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.“All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him. (Matthew 4:8-11)
That morning, the Lord graciously showed me what was happening in my head – I was being devoured by satan, accepting his lies as truth. I was neglecting to take those negative thoughts captive, allowing them to swim around my mind as if it was their home. I was forgetting the power of the Holy Spirit to refute the devil.
By the time I reached work, I was in a more positive mindset, determining to do better in the future. It takes practice to anticipate Satan’s next move, but one thing is for sure – this sign
is a necessary fixture for all Jesus-followers.
Which of your weaknesses on Satan’s radar right now?
Heavenly Father, thank you for showing us how to expect and prepare for spiritual warfare and the attack of our enemy. May we learn to claim Your promises of victory over negative thoughts – to capture them, making them obedient to You. Amen