1 PETER SERIES – NR 11
Theme: Like a roaring lion
Scripture: 1 Peter 5: 8 – 14
Yes, even though it is perfectly true that the living God cares and the Christian-believer may cast his/her anxiety upon Him – as we saw in verse 7 in the previous study – it is just as true that the Christian should be self-controlled and alert. Self-controlled… and… alert.
Be reminded once again of the context of the letter: The Apostle Peter is writing to the Christians who are suffering and even are persecuted simply because of their devotion to the Lord Jesus and the exclusive truth of God’s Word. But BEHIND this persecution and suffering and injustice towards the believers, he sees the work of SATAN. Because what exactly is satan’s aim? He wants of course by way of the unjust persecution of the Christian believers, to alienate them from the Triune God and the Word and the Truth. Yes, persecution and injustice are dispensed by the Sovereign God – it is received out of His hand – but the enemy comes – under the permissible will of God – and seizes the opportunity.
Peter, therefore wants his readers to identify the correct enemy. Namely the roaring lion – who is prowling around looking for someone to devour.
Of course, it is impossible for Satan (or any demonic power) to cause a truly reborn Christian person to be become LOST. In other words, undo the rebirth and then have the person end up in the Pool of Fire. O no, Jesus gives the golden assurance in John 10:28 that NO ONE can snatch His child out of His hand.
Even so, the roaring lion wants to devour – that means: cause severe damage. Because he is a formidable enemy. He is anything but a nonentity – as the DR church’s Synod-decisions wants us to believe. Not if we take the Scriptures seriously. No, he is like a roaring lion. Not: he IS a roaring lion, but he is like a roaring lion. And any Christian who suffers injustice or hardship in any way whatsoever for the sake of the Lord Jesus and His cause, knows very well how TRUE that is.
The word satan “adversary” means an accuser in a lawsuit. And the word “devil” means accuser. Yes, he uses all means to accuse God’s redeemed children. But, in vain says Romans 8:33. Because GOD it is who is exonerated because of JESUS’S successful death. Nowhere does Peter say that WE should try to conquer or rebuke or out-manoeuver the roaring lion. We should only be alert. Stand firm. The victory has already been gained. A perfect victory – by the resurrection of Christ. The Christian simply STANDS firm IN the completed victory.
There is therefore no doubt – Peter’s first readers were Christians in Minor Asia who suffered because they were Christians AND THAT THAT WAS THE BLOWS FROM THE ROARING LION (satan) which they were enduring. We should see that clearly because we are so inclined to read all kinds of things in what the roaring lion does to us. And that is not wrong – but then we should remember that unfair painful injustice which Christians suffer for the sake of Christ, is the PRIMARY attack of the roaring lion.
In verse 9 the Apostle reminds them that – what is happening to them – is not so strange and unique, indeed it is happening with Christians throughout the Roman Empire. Everywhere believers are undergoing the same kind of sufferings when they stand out for Christ. His readers should therefore realize that they are not standing alone. Christ’s true church is His body and is everywhere all over the planet. And a follower of Christ Jesus is never alone. Also not in his/her pain.
What the Apostle is therefore saying, is that TOGETHER they must – as a united brotherhood of Christian believers – resist the enemy – who is satan. Steadfastly. That means: as solid as a rock.
Peter’s words agree 100% with the words of James in James 4:7: Submit yourselves to the Lord and resist the devil and he WILL flee from you. Come near to God and He will come near to you.
And that is perfectly in keeping with Ephesians 6:11-13 where the Apostle Paul says: Put on the armor of God so that you can remain standing against the schemes of the devil. Our struggle is not against PEOPLE but the spiritual forces of evil in the air.
The question though is HOW! HOW must the followers of Christ remain standing against the enemy?
Well, certainly not by uttering special formulas or slinging words of resistance towards him, but by standing firm in the Truth of the Gospel. Look, Peter is saying here HOW we must resist the devil. He is saying: STAND FIRM IN THE FAITH. In other words, CLING TO THE TRUTH AND STAND ROCKSTEADY IN IT. Cling tightly and still more tightly
That correlates with 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 that says that we must use the spiritual weapons of the Gospel Truth to demolish satanic strongholds of lies and arguments. Adhering to the Word and prayer and active propagation of the Word are the most powerful weapons imaginable. That speaks of triumph.
Look at verses 10-11 and observe how it proclaims great triumph. The clinging to the truth is automatic resistance to the devil. And that leads to the certain knowledge that God is sovereign and that to Him belongs the power forever and ever. And only to Him! And to top it all, the reborn believer SHARES in that!
In verses 10-11 the Apostle wants to reassure his readers. There was something they had to realize and understand very clearly. What is it that they were to know and understand? They had to know and understand that God’s intention and plan with their future often brings about pain in the present. While the child of God is under attack by the roaring lion, the Lord is busy creating growth and spiritual maturity. And the result of that is not death or loss, but firmness, courage, strength and, steadfastness. So says the Holy Spirit through the apostolic pen.
We should therefore see with what determined intentions in view the living God is at work with all His true children. People who have come to faith in the Lord Jesus. The Lord has only ONE intention with them: And that is to bring about steadfast, trusting strong character. And He does that amongst other things by way of the Christian’s struggles and falling and getting up again. Like a pearl is formed by way of continuous irritation of sand grains in an oyster.
We should remember that not one Christian believer came to the Lord Jesus by their own will or decision. It was pure grace from HIS side. HIM it was who called. And His call is effective. It GIVES life to the dead, says John 5:25. The lost person suddenly gets into motion and is included in Christ as a result of the effective saving call from God.
And with these great truths, the Apostle reaches verses 12-14 and the closing paragraph of this majestic letter.
And there we see that he did not write this letter with his very own hand, but that he used Silvanus as his secretary to write as the Apostle dictated. We know that the Apostle Paul used this method also. And Silvanus was Paul’s travel companion on his second journey, and in the book of Acts, Silvanus is called SILAS. And now he is in Rome with Peter and he writes what Peter dictates and afterward delivered the letter to the churches.
The point in verse 12 is just this: The Apostle regards Silvanus as a faithful brother in Christ Jesus. The recording of the Word of God had to be done in absolute truth and faithfulness. Even the person who wrote what the Apostle said, had to be faithful and completely reliable. So that WE may today have the assurance that it is the reliable truth! The entire purpose why Peter wrote this letter was to give ASSURANCE.
Christians are people who have assurance. Assurance about God. Assurance about His Word. Assurance about His Truth. Assurance about atonement and salvation. Assurance about forgiveness. Assurance about filiation. Assurance about God’s eternal future. In short: Assurance about God’s grace. His TRUE grace. So that we may and can stand firm – even when circumstances are difficult.
That in fact, is Peter’s entire purpose with the writing of this letter. To caution Christians that in times of oppression not to doubt God’s grace or to fall into despair, because His grace is TRUE – that means God will be steadfast – to the end. It is because we believe this, that we have assurance. Our assurance is not based on some or other inner feeling, no, it is anchored in His faithfulness!
Yes, this letter is from start to finish about the rock steady faithfulness of God in Christ by the Spirit. GRACE simply means the undeserving favor of God in His faithfulness. We have received salvation which we could not earn in any way. It is purely God’s favor. And if it is His favor from the start – why would He later – when the going gets tough – suddenly become unfaithful? It is impossible, says Peter.
But now we can better understand why all true Christian believers in the NT – and again here in verse 13 – are called CHOSEN. Because they are brought to life out of the sin-death only by the grace and decision of God. They are chosen by Him. Their salvation is the result of the decision God had made before the creation of the earth to give them to His Son – as Ephesians 1 so clearly teaches.
A true church of Christ (like the one in Rome where Peter was at that time) is thus a chosen church – the way it says here in verse 13. They are what they are only based on God’s free grace and His eternal decision. And he is telling his readers that the church in Rome – who are chosen just as they are – sends their greetings. Mark – who is with Peter in Rome – also sends greetings.
And the Apostle symbolically calls the church in Rome BABYLON which was an indication to the Christians that Rome was the center of sinful practices and abominations and idolatry – just the same as Babylon was in the OT.
Think about it: Right in the center of this godless city, the Lord saved and called and appointed a church to let the Light of the Gospel shine forth. The Lord places His people mostly in dark places – as witnesses of His Name and the Truth and the Gospel.
We know from history that Peter himself would die a martyr’s death for His Lord and Saviour whom he loved so well, in this same Rome/Babylon.
Mark – who is mentioned here in verse 13 – was Peter’s spiritual child. Mark got to know the Lord through Peter’s spiritual labors. This is John-Mark – who also accompanied Paul on his first mission. It is he who wrote the Gospel of Mark in our NT – most probably with Peter’s assistance.
Now Mark was with Peter in Rome to translate for Peter. Yes, how precious is the brotherhood in Jesus Christ. Unity in the one true Gospel message creates unity among people that bonds of blood cannot do. The bond of faith in Christ simply exceeds everything in power.
And this brings us to the very last verse of the letter. Verse 14.
Here is the question now: Shall the injustice and persecution and hardship that Peter’s first readers had to endure, erase the inner peace of their lives? They who are IN CHRIST, as he puts it here. They who are INCLUDED with Christ.
Not all people are in/included with Christ. Only the very minority. But all people who are powerfully made new by the Holy Spirit are assuredly included with Him. Included in His virgin birth, His obedience, His righteousness, His suffering, His death, His burial, His resurrection, His ascension, His throne, His second coming, His Spirit. Everything that He is, is for you if you are included in Him. It is on your account to your advantage. God the Father transferred everything which is Christ’s onto your name. It is “imputed righteousness“. And the believer knows and experiences it only by trusting/believing God based on His Word.
And the result of this inclusion is PEACE. And this peace is the fruit/product of the Holy Spirit. It is given supernaturally and is maintained/preserved by His supernatural power. The renewed person – through whom the fruit of sanctification bubbles – is the product of a mighty heavenly divine work from Above.
Therefore: the answer to the question is: NO – injustice and suffering can not destroy or threaten this peace.
In the earliest Christian church people who got to know that peace (together with their children) were united in churches by the Spirit of the Lord. They were bound together by Christ-like love. And they illustrated it by greeting one another with a kiss. According to Mark 14:44, it was also customary among Jesus’s disciples to do that. But it was actually a cultural custom.
The Apostle’s instruction in verse 14 is therefore not applicable for us because our culture is different. But the PRINCIPLE is applicable, namely that Christians should visibly live in the unity of the Lord’s love.
Translated by Marthie Wilson