Prowling Lion, Devouring Menace
There is a cosmic battle taking place in the world; one that permeates the stories we create for ourselves, whether to entertain, tell our own or someone else’s story, or simply because this is the way it is in the universe where we live and the truth of it is in our blood. Almost every story in novel or movie has a protagonist and an antagonist: Batman has the Joker, Cops have Robbers, Cowboys have Indians, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe has an evil witch, Cinderella has a wicked step-mother, murder mysteries have a murderer. You get the idea. Fiction mimics real life. Our lives are caught up in this cosmic battle that continues until the return of the King. We truly have an enemy who seeks our destruction. Theatre, novels, movies, fairy tales may in most minds mask the reality of the pernicious adversary we cannot see, but he works in the lives of those who will do us harm, intentionally or unintentionally, and even masquerades as an angel of light in your personal life while all the time plotting and doing evil. Jesus said while looking into the eyes of His close friend and companion, Peter, one of three disciples making up His inner circle, “Get behind me, Satan, referring to Peter’s man-centered rebuke. Satan prefers to be ignored, to remain incognito, to have his existence denied and scorned as a superstitious and unintelligent fabrication. This fits his strategy to perfection; and many there are who practice such nonsense with a disdain for those who really know better, and acknowledge the presence of the father of lies.
Jesus meets Satan in the wilderness (Matthew 4 and Luke 4) to do for us something that we desperately need and cannot do ourselves: He unmasks the enemy; he exposes Satan’s masquerade. But if we do nothing with the information Jesus provides, it will not go well with anyone who ignores this encounter and the antidote. All around me there is so much evidence that Satan is continually discounted and allowed to roam freely in many lives. Peter, having finally taken Jesus at His word and applied the truth His Master taught him, wrote in his first epistle, “Be sober! Be vigilant! For your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1Peter 5:8) Luther felt his real presence so powerfully he threw an ink well at him. C.S Lewis taking note of Jesus’ unmasking of this cunning demon, wrote The Screwtape Letters to craftily reveal Satan’s and his minions’ strategy to get inside your mind and your appetites. Have you ever spoken or cried aloud when under oppression, “Leave me, Satan!? Jesus did!
You have to admit, willful ignoring of the forthright revelation of Satan’s presence and rule in the world leaves an open door for him to have his way with you, even as he did with Judas; or Peter or Thomas for that matter. But Peter and Thomas rallied through faith and were overcomers. Judas did not and went down in flames. Interestingly Peter introduces his warning about the prowling, devouring Satan with the characteristic of your strongest defense to defeat him: humility! He says, “Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God so at the proper time he may exalt you. The rebel of God is never humble. He is always an arrogant know-it –all. Just observe those who deny the virtues God has given man to live by, and what you see is arrogant hatred and vile epithets thrown in God’s face and in the face of those who dare to stand up and follow Him. Take the ugly hate-filled response to Dan Cathy of Chick-Fil-A; the very opposite of humility. Review the statements of the mayors of large, largely corrupt cities, overridden with crime who took it upon themselves to demand Chick-Fil-A stay out of “their town. Foolish arrogance! Peter says, “Resist him [Satan], firm in your faith! Just like Paul in Ephesians 6 who lays out the Christian’s armor, tells you to put it on, and then says, “Stand firm!
The day of sifting is on us. The separating of wheat from chaff is here. Know your enemy, and know your God. To survive in war I as a Platoon Leader had to know my enemy; how he operated, how he attacked, how he would disguise his moves, how I would recognize him. It is no different in life for you spiritually than for me in Vietnam physically. You must know the serpent, the devil, and know when he speaks, even through a friend. Drawing close to God through Jesus and casting your anxieties on Him will sharpen your instinct for this ever-present Enemy. (He is crouching at your door and desires to have you. Genesis 4:7). You can discern his attacks and you can quench his poison arrows; but not if you blissfully turn a blind eye to his attempting to plant his flag on your turf. If it is already there, tear it down and put your armor on! (Ephesians 6:10-20). You can’t afford to stand back and do nothing. He will devour you!
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