Just a question! Answer it only if you wish. Are you aware that our enemy, the devil, is “prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour?” Long pause. Well, that’s exactly what Peter wrote to some early believers (1 Peter 5:8). I admit I’ve always thought that a lion on the prowl would not warn his intended victim by roaring but that is probably beside the point. The picture is that the devil is vicious and constantly on the outlook for those whose faith he can destroy. He is real, present, diabolically evil, and continually active in his opposition to God and those who put their faith in him. To ignore his intense opposition to all that is good is to live in a fantasy world.
So what is it that we are to do? Peter doesn’t hesitate but answers immediately with his customary directness, “Resist him!” When he appears, ready to devour, resist him. And how do we do that? The following phrase in verse 9 can be translated in several ways but I take it not as a separate injunction (TEV, “be firm in your faith”) but as showing us how to resist the devil, that is, “by being strong in the faith.” We do not resist our enemy by meeting him on his own terms but by standing with our fellow Christians around the world. Peter says to his readers that what they are suffering is the same as that which is being experienced by fellow believers throughout the world. We are one in our opposition to sin and Satan. We suffer because we adhere to the same spiritual truth and this sense of close brotherhood strengthens each of us as we face our common enemy. It is good not to be alone in life’s most important battles.
There is, however, an additional way in which a strong faith serves to defend us from this roaring lion. Faith grows as we learn more and more of our Savior. The more we know Him the better equipped we are to resist our common enemy. And growth in faith seems to depend upon two factors. First, exposure to God’s word. To know more and more about God as revealed in the pages of Scripture is to find ourselves increasingly willing to trust him without reservation. Honest exposure to God’s truth does not leave a person untouched. It transforms, and in the process we are enabled to resist the enemy. Secondly, faith grows as it is experienced in the details of life. You can’t go through a difficult period in which you had to turn to Him for help and come away untouched by his gracious response to your need. Faith acted upon is faith enlarged. It is the flip side of “use it or lose it.” In summary Peter is saying, “Be alert as you journey through life. Satan intends to destroy you so stand firm in the faith along with your fellow believers around the world.”