This last Sunday Pastor Chad mentioned Peter using a lion as an example of Satan prowling around in 1 Peter 5:8, and we are the prey. He used a video of a lioness hunting a warthog as a visual example. So many analogies pop into my head as I think about this. It is certainly easy to be distracted from the teeth and claws when we see the power and gracefulness of a hunting lion. Those of us who love cats want to think of them as really big house cats with silky fur and soft paws. We forget what happens when the gazelle turns its back on the lion or gets distracted by one lion and runs headlong into another.
We can easily do the same thing with Satan. He is a sneaky opponent who succeeds when we are distracted and let him get too close. We think we can handle things on our own and stray from the pack. Have you seen nature videos of how some herds protect their young and each other? They stay in large groups and keep the young ones in the middle of their group. Predators know they cannot handle more than one prey at a time. Those who lag behind or wander off on their own can easily be picked off. Have you wandered off on your own? Have you stopped going to church because you think you’re fine on your own? You will find the exact opposite directions in the Bible. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
Besides isolating ourselves, we give Satan an easy target when we let ourselves get run down, angry (Eph. 4:26-27), or impatient. When we don’t spend time keeping ourselves spiritually healthy, we can’t seem to muster up the energy to run away from even the smallest temptation he throws our way. The more time we spend listening to Satan’s lies, the easier it is for him to keep us away from God. But the more time we spend praying, reading our Bibles, and spending time with other people who can hold us accountable, the harder it is to be distracted by the “fine-sounding arguments” (Col. 2:4) with which Satan is bombarding us from all directions. Where are you spending your time? Are you praying or are you prey?
It can also be easy to get caught up in the thought that Satan is easy to spot because he’s evil. Using the “devil” image of horns, a tail, and hooves is extremely misleading. Not many of us would stop and listen to someone looking like that. But the snake oil salesman, the one who says all of the issues we are suffering from right now can be solved by this one remedy, we can believe. We want to believe because it sounds so easy and good. These are the fine-sounding arguments. The ones that will give us the exact solution we want, but the methods are dubious. These are situations where we need to completely remove ourselves. Walk away immediately. Do not linger and get swept up in the lies.
One of the things that Satan enjoys lying to us about is our salvation. He says God has made it too easy, so there have to be things we have to do to earn it. Where do you think all the laws the Pharisees put together came from? They started with a simple plan from God, and then they proceeded to add so many more rules and regulations that no one could follow them. How often do we do that? It starts simple, but then we add to it to make ourselves look better by being such upstanding people following all the rules, and no one else can possibly live up to our expectations. Unfortunately, Satan keeps us distracted doing all of these “good” works, and we forget we have only been saved by grace (Eph. 2:8-9) and our purpose is to be sharing that good news with the people around us, not turning them away because they don’t do all of the things we have decided are important.
Let us not be distracted. Let us heed Peter’s warning in 1 Peter 5:8-9. Stay alert, resist Satan, and stand firm. You are not alone.