I Peter 5:8-10 (NKJV)
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. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.
And the Lord said, “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) When a lion is hunting prey it watches and waits from a distance to determine if there is a young or weak animal in the herd. One that will easily give up in pursuit or in experience make a fatal error. When it has selected it, the pursuit begins. The rest is total chaos as the adult and fit animals run for cover together. But there is usually one who falls behind, makes the wrong turn, or just cannot keep up that the lion catches and quickly subdues. It is nature. It is the concept of survival of the fittest. Not with respect to evolution, which is false, but in the wild it is a principle of hunting to seek, subdue and devour those which are slower and weaker than the hunter. J
Jesus knew that the enemy had his eyes on Peter. Jesus knew that Peter would deny him not one or twice, but three times. Jesus also knew that His Moment was coming and that in His Death and Resurrection, Peter could return to Him once more. It did not mean that the enemy would not sift him as wheat. Though the enemy tried to separate Peter from God, it had a much different effect. In the midst of great trial, rather than devouring Peter, God’s Love consumed Peter. The difference between being devoured by the enemy or consumed by God’s Love is simple. It is intent. Our heart determines the outcome of the enemy’s assault against our life. If after all is taken away from us, we still love Jesus and find faith as small as a mustard seed, we will not only recover but triumph over the enemy and sin.
What makes the difference between spiritual success and natural failure? When a lion rushes into a herd, the animals that huddle close and run as a unit are most likely to survive. It is the one that can be separated or removed from the herd that is easily overtaken. It is important that the animal learns from a young age that there is safety in unity. To live united with God empowers us to overcome the enemy when he comes after us. He will come after you. The devil has his sights set on you because you belong to Jesus Christ. Coming to Jesus is salvation. It does not end the conflict, but starts a war. Warring in our flesh combined with the opposition of the enemy all around us requires strength in our bond to Jesus to make it through life consumed by God’s Love rather than devoured by the enemy.
Hebrews 12:25-29 (NKJV)
See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.” Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.
God does not lie or change His Mind. His Character did not change because mankind fell. His Love remained perfect from beginning to end. His Love is all-consuming. (Deuteronomy 4:24) Because of God’s Sovereign Unchangeability. Because of His Perfection, we must change to enter His Kingdom and live in His Presence now and forever. Jesus offers everyone the opportunity to accept His Grace and enter God’s Kingdom once more. He covers our life with His Blood to atone for our sin. It is in repentance or the turning from our sin that we accept His Gift becoming God’s Children once again. Jesus is the Way, Truth and Life and no one can come to the Father except through Him.
When we accept God’s Gift, it requires applying it to our life. We must live covered in the Blood of Jesus and separate ourselves from sin so that His Love can consume us. If not for the Grace of God, His Close Proximity would destroy us in judgment. As we call out to the Lord to come closer and we attempt to draw near, trials and testing will occur not because God is out to get us or punish us, but because our sin gets in the way of His Goodness. We must understand that anything contrary to God gets in the way of our pursuit of Him. The smallest sin causes separation. The slightest detour is complete rebellion. We live in a compromised and complacent society with a huge gray area and multiple routes to the same destination. Many are conditioned to believe that God is the same way. Well, He is not. But there is good news…
Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause.” (Job 2:3) The enemy cannot touch God’s Children without His Permission. He cannot test you until you have what is in you to survive. Why? I struggled with this verse for a long time. Our faith in God must be genuine to survive judgment. This is not God’s Choice. It is God’s Character. It is what makes Him good, holy and righteous. His Love is complete because of His Perfection. In I Peter 1:6-9, it tells us to rejoice in the trials of life because though it is grievous, it will prove the genuineness of our faith that is more precious than gold. It goes on to say that though we cannot see the Lord we love Him and with that is a great reward which is salvation of our souls.
The enemy is seeking who He may devour while God is offering to consume us with His Love. The only difference is intent. Our flesh cries out to live, but is consumed either way. Sin offers a death sentence. Jesus offers us new life. Either way the flesh dies, so we must choose that which will overtake us today. Will it be the enemy? Or will it be the Love of God?
II Corinthians 11:19-20 (NKJV)
For you put up with fools gladly, since you yourselves are wise! For you put up with it if one brings you into bondage, if one devours you, if one takes from you, if one exalts himself, if one strikes you on the face.
Sin will always separate us from the Lord. Grace is forgiveness not an excuse. I will continue to say this until there is no longer breath in my body. There is nowhere in the Word of God that I can find that condones willful sin or disobedience. Not a single promise comes to us this way. It is a life of godliness and true repentance that allows us to live in the Kingdom of God and enjoy His Presence. Every single tolerated or entertained sin devours a portion of our soul until surrendered. We are war torn and battle weary fighting things that are under His Blood, yet we allow it to seep back into our life day by day. This is the age of resistance. It is time for God’s People, His Body, and His Church to silence the false prophets and teachers who tell us to disregard the things not of God that His Grace is enough to allow us to live under God’s Standard. The ones who tell us that sin is tolerated by God. Grace is the excuse. The same ones that dare to imply His Love is less than perfect tolerating adultery and prostitution of His People to the things of this world. God will not be a duped lover or foolish partner to us. His Love is too complete and perfect. It cannot be tainted by our sin. His Son gave His Love so I could experience God’s Love, not pollute it. It is our bond to sin and love of this life that allows the enemy to devour us day by day. Some quickly and others too slowly to notice until it’s too late.
Galatians 6:7-9 (NKJV)
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.
We must walk in the Spirit of God each day to be protected from being devoured by the enemy. (Galatians 5:16-17) Our flesh will always be attracted to sin. It is gratifying to our natural self. It is when we allow God’s Spirit to produce in us that “fruit” which is attracted to God that He can move in closer and consume us with His Love. We must not be deceived. The Bible says that God’s People perish from a lack of knowledge. It is true. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. We choose what we sow our life into. Will it be the Kingdom of God? Or will it be this life? Those who choose the latter will lose their soul as it is devoured by the darkness. Only those who choose to live in the Light of God’s Love, far removed from sin and darkness will be able to endure to the end. Our faith connected to hope is the anchor that makes us steadfast and immoveable when the enemy pursues us, sifts us, and tries to separate us from the Lord. Those who have developed genuine faith, as small as a mustard seed in fact, will survive each test with a thriving soul and crucified flesh.
We must not grow weary in well-doing. We must not abandon holiness and obedience to God. The enemy has his eyes on you today, Child of the Living God. He is testing the doors and windows of your life looking for a way to sneak in and overtake you. Will he find one? Well, that is up to us. If we sow in the Spirit, it becomes stronger than our flesh. Grace applied to our life with repentance of sin and returning to Christ fortifies us from the inside out and we become strong. We will become keen and alert quick to notice the things in our life that allow the enemy to rush in. In our weakness, we are made strong. Surrendering and submitting our life to Jesus empowers us to overcome and triumph over the enemy in our life every single day!
Psalm 91:13-16 (NKJV)
You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, the young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot. Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My Name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, and show him My Salvation.”
In the Parable of the Lost Sheep (Matthew 18:10-14), Jesus makes the point of the importance of just one “sheep” in God’s Kingdom. The shepherd will leave 99 others to pursue the 1 who is lost. Why? The one who is lost is in the greatest danger. The herd is safe united together. The one separated, alone and crying out in the wilderness just became prey. An easy target for an enemy who roams the earth with a voracious appetite for those who are weak and disabled by sin. Friend, we must be alert. We must know the Heart of God and His Character. Our belief in Jesus Christ must be strong enough that our faith unites us so that we abide in Him. This is the place of power, authority and safety that allows us to make it successfully through life into His Kingdom forever. This is not a powerless position but a victorious stance. You will overcome the world simply by acknowledging and aligning your life with the One who overcame the world. The enemy will never stop trying to steal, kill, destroy and devour God’s People, but we do not have to be his victim or fall prey.
“He shall call on me. I will answer him. I will be with him. I will deliver and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my Salvation.” Peter thought that he was following Jesus. He claimed that he would die for Him. Funny, when the time of testing came, Peter denied every knowing Christ. We will mess up. We will make mistakes. We must note what Jesus told Peter. You will be tested. You will fail. I have prayed that your faith will remain. You will return to me. I will strengthen you. (Paraphrased, of course.) God knows and He loves us anyway. Christ knew our rebellious hearts and chose to die for us anyway. His Spirit saturates our soul just waiting to consume us more and more with God’s Love. Sometimes it takes a failed test to see our weakness and surrender another piece of our broken heart to the Lord, that’s okay. His Grace is enough for us today. This is the age of resistance. A time when God’s Children recognize the traps and snares of the enemy stepping over them in faithful obedience to pursue holiness that unites us with the Lord. His Reward? Fulfillment and satisfaction? The price? To set our love on Him! For the resistance of sin, compromise, and every other strategy of satan will fill our life with His Love more and more until we are consumed by it leaving nothing for the enemy to take.
James 4:7-10 (NKJV)
Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.