Sermons & Sunday Schools

The Christian’s Obligation for Vigilance

In this sermon, Pastor Babij preaches on the Christian’s obligation to be vigilant for spiritual warfare through the following three postures:

1) Prepare for war
2) Be spiritually and mentally controlled in a godly fashion
3) Be spiritually and mentally alert and watchful

Full Transcript:

Let’s take our Bibles and turn to the epistle of 1 Peter, and let’s pray:

Lord, I thank You for this opportunity to just have the privilege to open up Your word to see what it says, to learn something that we didn’t know before, or to add upon what we already do know. I pray, Lord, that our hunger for the word of God would never cease. I pray, Lord, that we never get tired of hearing the Gospel message or preaching from the word of God. Lord, that it would always thrill our soul, and always get ahold of us in our inner man. We desire to be fed by it, so that the inner man is strengthened, and the old man could die off. I pray, Lord, as we go through our life that we would be sinning less and less and looking forward to seeing You come again. I pray, Lord that we would prepare for that coming even if there comes a time in our life that we have to go through deep times of suffering and persecution because we’re Believers. I pray, Lord, that You would allow us to be strengthened now before that time. I pray this in Christ name, Amen.

In 1 Peter 5, we’re going to be looking at just one verse. 1 Peter 5:6-9 says:

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. 8Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.

Specifically, I’m going to focus in on 1 Peter 5:8. In this final section of 1 Peter, the Apostle Peter exhorts his recipients in three areas: the area of humility, balanced vigilance, and resistance. All three areas really have an important place within the life of every believer. No one is exempt from these things. When a believer would experience some storms of trial, some suffering they’re going through in their life, something that God wants to teach them, or a trial in their faith, it is a strengthening of your faith as you mature during those times, which are also the times we mature the most

The exhortation of humility was given in light of God’s constant care. Christian’s are to cast all that creates anxiety on God and practice that every day whether it is anything that distracts us or prompts us to fear. Worry is to be handed over to our caring God such as memories of the past, pressures of the present, or fears concerning the future.

However, such abandonment to God’s care does not exempt the Christian from the duty of vigilance. The Christian has no warrant for slackness or laziness. Thus, the first exhortation is important because it enables us to carry out the second and third exhortation. The second exhortation is of balanced vigilance? If you grasp the logic of this exhortation and practice it, then stability and victory over satan is achievable over his tactics.

I remember when I was a soldier, and any soldier that goes to battle goes to bootcamp to learn how to fire a weapon. You don’t put somebody in a battle, and while they are in battle, they’re given the weapon. Rather, that is given to them in peacetime, and before the battle, they learn how to do all those things and how to practice those things. They learn how to fire a weapon and the nomenclature of that weapon. When they get into battle, they’re not looking at the weapon and saying, ‘oh, how do you fire this thing?’ All those things they know beforehand.

In the Christian life, when things are kind of on a low and there’s not a whole lot of things happening, then that is the time to learn what it means to be ready for battle, especially since the unbeliever is to be ready for battle. I don’t think that’s a message that’s often heard today, but it is a message of the Bible for all believers.

Just as a soldier needs to be vigilant in what he knows in battle tactics and weaponry, a Christian ought to be vigilant in what they know about Christian battle tactics, the weapon to use against the enemy, and how to use the weapon.

As we consider the exhortation of balanced vigilance, we are to have spiritual and mental control. 1 Peter 5:8 says:

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

Again, such relinquishment to God’s care, in 1 Peter 7, does not permit any laziness on the part of the Christian. The command is not a new one in 1 Peter, and it was said in 1 Peter 1:13:

Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Then, in 1 Peter 4:7, it says:

The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer.

Again, he is admonishing three times, by command, to believers that this is really important. In your Christian walk, this is vital for when the battle comes, so that you’re not caught off-guard or deluded. Rather, you’re going to be ready. Actually, you’re going to be expecting it as said in 1 Peter 4:12:

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you.

Don’t think it’s strange when trouble comes into your Christian life but be ready for those times. So, the imagery is that of drunkenness or a drunken person. In other words, it says keep sober in spirit, so it’s the image of a drunk in person. Remember, a drunken person is not a person who is in control of themselves, their bodies, or their minds. Instead, they are given over to an outside intoxicating influence that controls them by clouding and distracting their mind, so that they are unable to maintain clear thinking. When a person is under the influence of an intoxicating substance, their manner will be unnatural and erratic, especially since they have allowed themselves to be controlled by something other than a sober and a sound mind.

By being under the influence, a person has removed his words and actions from his own power. These admonitions are also given in other books of the Bible. For example, in 1 Thessalonians 5:6, there are two verbs that occur in this passage:

so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober.

The posture of alertness is part of the Christian teaching regarding the end of the world. The ends of things are rapidly moving forward. We’re not going backwards, but forward to a place. Remember, Christian history is not something circular. Rather, it is linear, and it’s heading somewhere. It’s got an end result, which is the coming of Jesus Christ. Before His coming, there’s going to be difficult times that will come and there’s going to be even more difficult where men are going to be lovers of self and money, not lovers of God. They are going to be disobedient and rebellious.

In peaceful times, the church is to make sure that they don’t forget that He’s coming, and they need to be of sober mind, watchful, and be ready for whatever happens. A man once said about the Thessalonian passage:

The notions of wakefulness and sobriety imply the need to avoid the opposite states of sleep and drunkenness. It does include literal drunkenness, but also anything that can dull the senses. Drunkenness expresses the clouding of the senses, and so a lack of apprehending spiritual realities. Believers are to be alert, be on the watch like King Sentinel, and aware that the foe may attack at any time from any quarter.

The only thing that’s going to give you a clear mind is the word of God. The word of God is going to push out all the other stuff and give you God’s thoughts on what God is doing in the world.

Secondly, we are to be spiritually and mentally conscious. In 1 Peter 5:8, it says to be sober, but also to be on the alert. The second imperative command means to not dull, sleepy, or lazy. Rather, be conscious of two kingdoms: the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan, who is working against the kingdom of God.

Even though the Christian may cast the whole of his anxiety and burden on God, they are not exempt for the duty of vigilance. To be on the alert is to be constantly ready. Of course, this one gives the image of that of the mind. 1 Peter 1:13 says:

Therefore, prepare your minds for action’

In Bible times, people wore flowing garments down to the ankle. They would bind up or gather up their flowing robes in their girdle. They did this, so they would not be hindered or slowed down by tripping over their extra flowy material, especially if they had to move quickly. In Exodus 12:11, the people were getting ready to leave Egypt and hurry out of Egypt, the land of bondage:

Now you shall eat it in this manner: with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste’it is the LORD’S Passover.

Meaning, in the mind, you don’t move through life with loose thoughts that are lazily moved by old impulses and passions of your remaining corruption. Instead, a girded mind means a mind that is made up. Not a stubborn mind, but a mind that is made up, and a mind that purposely has decisive thoughts, makes decisive decisions, and knows the direction of their life.

To have your mind made up is to have your mind made up concerning scripture. The authority and sufficiency of God’s word is given to us for all of life and godliness. We don’t need anything else to prepare us in the Christian walk than the word of God, who is sufficiently giving us everything we need to prepare us.

Thus, we have a balance in our disposition, in our thoughts, and our actions. Meaning, we’re never flighty spiritually or carried away by notions of our own thoughts that cannot be substantiated or evaluated from anything. The word of God is the only thing that can examine things. In Matthew 16:21-23, Peter questions the Lord’s wise method of Salvation, and Jesus was quick to remind Peter his thinking was out of balance, was not sober, and how he was used by the enemy by the way he was thinking:

From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. 22Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.’ 23But He turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.’

The Lord quickly rebuked him for the wrong thinking. If it wasn’t for Christ going to the Cross, Peter could not be saved and be made right with God. Nobody could unless Jesus went to the Cross. However, in 1 Peter and 2 Peter that he has fully grasped it. Now, he’s turning around and warning the people of some of the things he got wrong, so we wouldn’t get it wrong.

Peter is saying that warfare demands vigilance. The man’s sobriety is a man’s watchfulness. Casting one’s cares upon God not only shows a desire to be humble before God but puts us in the realm in which Christians live with a freedom from all anxious care enabling them to be sober-minded and have a mind guarded by the word of God.

A sober mind is really a calm mind, a steady mind, a sensible mind, and a balanced mind that weighs and estimates all things by the word of God. In turn, it enables the believer to make wise decisions, to avoid different paths and trends in the world and in life that will be damaging to their Christian life and growth. A spiritually balanced Christian can maintain self-control and spiritual sanity. So, what does the spiritual sane person look like or what would be going on in their life? Will they see things in their proper order in position or portion?

They see what things are important and what are not important, and they are not swept away by sudden and passing enthusiasm. They are not prone to unbalanced fanaticism. They know in what and in whom they believe. They see the affairs of this life in the light of eternity. They have their eyes fixed on the goal. They give the Lord, Jesus Christ, proper place in all things. Their heart is fixed on God in prayer by casting all their worries on Him while they live each day.

So, they have minds unintoxicated with the forms and structures of this world. They knew who they are in Christ. They know where they are heading. They know what to do while on Earth on their way to heaven. They know they’re not home yet.

A Christian is well aware, in regard to the word of God that we are the true aliens and strangers that are not home yet. While we’re not home yet, we must understand that we are living in enemy territory. Wherever we go in this world, we are in enemy territory. We are Christians and if they hated Christ, they will hate us right. They don’t have to have a reason to hate us. Simply, they hate us because behind people hating Christians is Satan, who is manipulating and pulling the strings on things.

Now, as we think about that, spiritual sobriety will be important for three specific purposes. The first is found in 1 Peter 4:7:

The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer.

In other words, seeking and knowing you’re caring God, and casting all your anxiety on Him. The second purpose is found in 1 Peter 5:8, which is that of discernment:

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert’

Then, there is the purpose of resistance, which we will look at next time. In continuation, 1 Peter 5:8 says:

Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

Again, Christians are not only aliens on this Earth, but they are occupying enemy territory. Therefore, we must be sober for the purpose of resisting the enemy, which is where he is heading with this.

Before we go there, the real reason for all of these imperatives is that warfare demands vigilance, which is what Peter is stressing.

To be effective in spiritual battle, one must study the demons. They must study the demon themselves with caution. When C.S. Lewis wrote about demons, he said:

There are two equal and opposite errors in which our race can fall about devils. One is to disbelieve their existence, which they want to happen. The other is to believe and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same Delight.

Christians ought to know what to do in a spiritual battle, which means they cannot be ignorant about the devil and demons and about their character. The only place you and I can find out about the character of the enemy is right in the word of God. Unless you read the word of God, there’s no other place on this planet that you can find out about what they’re doing, what is their character, and what their mission is unless you read the word of God, which gives a clear understanding.

Remember, satan was a high-ranking angel who ministered around the Throne of God. He was finally thrown out of heaven. God knows well because angels are created beings. They are powerful, but they are not any match for God. Also, when we are God’s children, then we are the possession of God, so satan cannot do just anything. He must have the permission of God to do anything in our lives.

In 1 Peter 5:8, he gives us information about the enemy. It says that he is an adversary, which means he is an antagonist, a plaintiff, or an opponent against you. Really, satan is a diabolical one, especially since he is an accuser who accuses us. In fact, in 1 Peter 5:8, it says that he is your enemy. Meaning, the personal pronoun indicates that the devil is your personal enemy, who personally works against and accuses believers. Part of his mission is to go against you, but he cannot get you since you are now in Christ. However, he can come against you and accuse you of thing, which is what he is good at.

We are we know the word of God and are not ignorant of the word of God. We are going to be duped by him, but Peter is saying to not be. There’s nothing I know of that will make one so sober and serious-minded than spiritual warfare, which includes trials and sufferings. Christians are to be sober and perpetually girded for action because satan is battling for your mind. That’s what he wants to get. He cannot get your soul, but he can get your mind.

As we look at this passage of Scripture, we see that there are several characteristics of the evil one. In 1 Peter 5:8, he is walking about. Simply, he’s continually and actively against you. He prowls around, which means to move about. Satan is not stationary or a passive opponent. He’s always roaming around and walking up and down the Earth spying out the weaknesses of God’s servants, which are those who are careless, who are world-influenced, and who are spiritually sleepy, not sober and not alert.

Those were not alert, sober-minded, or self-controlled will be his Target. So, here’s the warning to all of us: he has restless energy, which is endless. Peter’s description of satan’s roaming around maybe reminiscent to what Job said in Job 1:7:

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. The LORD said to Satan, ‘From where do you come?’ Then Satan answered the LORD and said, ‘From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.’

Job is an early book of the Bible, and since the cross, satan’s activity and power has been seriously curtailed. He’s waiting judgment, so most of the stuff he’s doing now is out of anger and for a short time before Christ comes.

The Christian must be sober and wait because his enemy is always active, but what does the enemy want us to know about him? He wants us to know nothing, that he’s not there, and that he’s a little guy in a red suit with a pitchfork and horns. He’s not that, nor is he like a lot of stuff that movies portray him as. Rather, he’s in religion. He wants to twist your mind away from what the truth and what God says in His word.

Not only is he walking about, but also he’s roaring like a roaring lion. When a lion is looking for its prey, it usually stocks it and then roars. However, the devil is eager to do evil inspired by his pride and hatred for God, so he is not a silent hunter. Satan lets his fearsome roar sound fourth.

In other words, he wants to render his victims not only helpless, but also helpless through fear. He wants to make people afraid. That’s what he does, and Hebrews tells us that through death, he might render powerless who had the power of death, which is the devil, and might deliver those, who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.

In Hebrews, the roar of satan has persecution in mind and his original audience lives during the time of Nero’s savage persecution of believer. Of course, there is a fear tactic when it comes to suffering and dubious times in which you are the target. However, from Hebrews, Christ frees believers from the slavery of the fear of death. Through the cross, Christ had victory over death, which is seen in his resurrection. All those who believe in him will also be raised with a new body and will live with Christ forever. So, he is a roaring lion with many tactics seeking to make people afraid.
Then, he is seeking to devour. In 1 Peter 5:8, Satan is pictured as being very ambitious on totally capturing his prey. To devour means to swallow up, to drink down, or to eat up. Daniel Aritzia said on this passage of Scripture:

The activity of the devil in trying to destroy his believers, particularly in their faith, is to lead them into apostasy. That is, to deny their faith in Jesus Christ

Implied in all of these is the thought that sufferings experienced by Christians are not simply the work of people, but
what are instigated by the devil himself. Behind all trouble, suffering, and persecution, there are the fingerprints of satan all over it. In other words, he’s trying to drive us away from what is true. He’s trying to cloud our mind to make us afraid, but you know why he cannot do that? If you know the word of God, you stand strong in the word of God, so Satan does not have ammo. He has motive operation to keep unbelievers blind so that they do not understand or receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ; then, to keep Believers ignorant sleepy and scared. Through restless assaults, scare tactics, and persecutions, the evil one hopes to cause believers to fall away from being soldiers and witnesses of Jesus Christ.

In all of this, the devils target is the mind, and his weapons are lies disguised as truth. The devil targets the mind, and his weapons are lies disguised as truth, so he attacked the thought life. By the power of suggestion and of course by the subconscious mind, man’s fallen nature is the remaining corruption in Believers. He uses all those things to get to someone, and above all, satan wants to make people ignorant of God’s word, the body of faith delivered once for all. It’s just as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:4:

In whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

Satan, who is identified as the god of the world, supplies ample disillusionment for people to keep on believing lie. They say God is Sovereign over all that because if he can get away with it, nobody would be saved. However, for hose that know Christ, you are saved. Obviously, God overruled him, so he couldn’t blind us. God overruled him and brought the gospel to shine in your heart, so you repented of your sin, you saw your need of Jesus Christ, and you called on him to be your Lord and Savior.

God says that anyone who comes to Him, He will not cast out. Now, you became a follower of Jesus Christ, so Satan was not happy about that day. He was not happy that you believed, so he’s even angrier. The more people believe, the more rambunctious and active he gets in what he is doing. I think we see a lot of that activity in the world today where he is flaming people in all places of the world.

As I mentioned already, the devil’s Target is the mind and his weapons are lies disguised as truth, so satan guides the various thought patterns of the world in an effort to keep people in the dark about Christ, about His gospel, and, of course, the sanctifying process the Holy Spirit is doing on believers. Now, why does the adversary pick up such an aggressive posture against believers?

Well, satan enacts his deceptions for the sake of his own selfish pride. He wants to continue his dark dominion in the world. He is fighting against the kingdom of God. He has already lost, but he still fighting.
Satan attacks all who threaten that rule. God’s people are hindrances to satan’s reign, so satan contrives methods by which he may remove them, neutralize them, and cause them to work on his behalf. Thus, satan and his whole host of inferior spirits work to cause God’s faithful ones to fall. Meaning, all servants of God will come under the direct or indirect assaults of this formidable enemy. Satan’s goal is to curtail the believer’s usefulness and to ruin the believer’s testimonies. Satan tempts believers to sin and then to justify their sinful action.

To be clear, satan does not make people sin, but he does tempt people by drawing upon the various lusts present within them. Satan wants to ensnare people in their own lusts, passions, and desires, and persuade them to greater wickedness while making himself and his allurements appear to be right, helpful, and desirable. 2 Corinthians 11:12 says:

No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.

In that context it is talking about false apostles and false teachers, so through many of the false teachers and false apostles in the world today, Satan is disguised behind them where they are seemingly being preachers a light, but they are actually his emissaries doing his work in the world. Nothing is as it seems to be with satan’s world system and temptations.

Here are a few passages of Scripture, as examples, in which satan will take advantage of someone. In each one of these passages, there is a direct reference to the enemy. First, we are to think of why we’re not to be ignorant to schemes. The enemy will attack the church community and its unity. In 2 Corinthians 2:10-11, it says:

But one whom you forgive anything, I forgive also; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ, 11so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.

This was the one man, in the congregation, who committed the sin. Paul told the people to put them out. They weren’t putting him out or disciplining him. Then, they did do that, but the congregation was called upon to forgive the man. Thus, Paul is saying to them:

Listen, if you forgave him, I will forgive him also.

Also, why was he so intent on getting the congregation to be forgiving? If Satan can suggest ideas to the Christian’s mind and inflame the believer’s affections with desires that stand in opposition to godliness, holiness, and spiritual growth, then Christian’s, while taking the devil seriously, must understand what parts of their lives deserves special attentive caution. In this case, it was that of learning how to forgive. If you don’t forgive, no matter what situation you may be in, you give advantage to the enemy. In other words, there are no grounds on this earth in which you can justify yourself in not forgiving someone. In 2 Corinthians 11, it says why we forgive:

so that no advantage would be taken of us by satan for we are not ignorant of his games.

What is this game? Simply, it’s believing that you don’t have to forgive since you’re justified in what you believe. It doesn’t matter because you’re right, and that person’s wrong. Know that if you do that, then you give him an advantage. Why would I want to do that if I’m aware of God’s word anyway? Remember, I am to forgive because God forgave me of all my garbage and sin. If God has forgiven me, how could I withhold forgiveness from somebody else?

Though Christians do not know when the devil will strike, they can be ready for his attacks, especially because we’re not ignorant of his schemes. We know the Bible, we know theology, and we are growing in theology right in this term. So, the device satan was planting was the thought that Christians did not need to forgive each other. That’s the plan, and it’s simple, isn’t it? His appeal to our base nature.

Really, the enemy desires to introduce hatred and animosity into the church and into someone’s actions and their life. In turn, it would destroy the relationships in that church, damage the church’s organic unity, and any further mission to bring the gospel to the world, in a congregation, is shot. Now, you have in fighting, and in fighting, you have been trapped by the enemy. He targeted the mind of someone and he took advantage of him or her because they gave him advantage by becoming ignorant of what satan was doing. These mind attacks of the devil come very forcibly.
Dr. Steven Lawson, in his chapter A Time to Stand, gives examples of the devil’s devious suggestions. He says:

We kick around the devil’s deception in our mind, convincing ourselves to bite the hook.

He pictures it as a fish looking at a hook with a nice, juicy worm and it’s dangling before us. Satan says things like these:

God wouldn’t want me to be unhappy, would He? Why fight the feeling if everybody’s doing it? This won’t lead to anything else’I always wondered what it would be like’Just this once’I’m never going to do it again’No big deal’No one will ever know’I can get away with it this time’This won’t affect anyone but me’I can just confess it and it will be like I never did it’

That’s presumptuous sin. That was the sin where David says in Psalm 19:13:

Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins’

This is presuming that God would respond in a way when you do something opposite of what pleases him. It’s the presumption that God will stop me if it doesn’t if he doesn’t want me to go any further. The list can go on and on and on. The more we roll it over in our mind, the more deceived we become, and then eventually, we go for it. We take the bait, we get hooked, and satan reels you in. I’m not talking to unbelievers here. I’m talking to Believers. This is about believers.

Satan works on believers to get the better of them. The devil wants to destroy the power and the testimony of the church by putting stumbling blocks in believer’s ways, keeping them ignorant of God’s word, and stifling their spiritual growth. So, what do Christians do when they’re in a situation like that? Well, they are to do one thing, which is to resist him. 1 Peter 5:8-9 says:

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.

Let’s Pray:

Lord. Thank You. Lord, the word of God is so revealing. It exposes us, Lord, in areas in which we really need to grow in. If we look at our own life Lord, there are a lot of things going on in our life where we have given advantage to the enemy. I pray, Lord, that we would stop doing that, and I pray, Lord, that we would stop doing it because we have the Holy Spirit in us, we have the word of God, and we can stand firm against him when we detect his lies, his traps, and his manipulations. They are simple because they’re going against something God said to do or not to do, or something that we ought to be and not be. I pray, Lord, that You would make us wise and grounded in the word of God, so that the word of God transforms our mind. As the book of Romans says, that we would we would be growing in our knowledge and wisdom of Jesus Christ, and that we would grow to know the good, the acceptable, and the perfect will of God. I pray that for us, and that we never let up because truly, Lord, as we mature in Christ, we realize that we are in warfare. God, once we have a certain responsibility and vigilance in warfare, I pray that we would not step down, but that we would step up and be what God wants us to be. I pray that You would enable us to do these things as we walk in the spirit and not fulfill the lust of the flesh. I pray this in Christ name, Amen.