Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Aug 16 2020 - 1 Peter 4:7-5:14 – Be alert

In our day and culture, the devil has been reduced to a cartoon character; a red guy with horns and a tail – a fictional figure of fun.

Not long ago, we were remembering the 50th anniversary of the death of C S Lewis. To mark this anniversary, the BBC broadcast readings from his book, The Screwtape Letters, as their Book of the Week. In the preface to that book, Lewis wrote, “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. 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.”

Lewis quotes Luther: “The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn.” And adds the following from Thomas More: “The devil … the prowde spirite … cannot endure to be mocked.” By all means laugh at the devil, but don’t laugh at the idea of the evil one.

Peter warns us that the devil is all too real and, as always, he is out to destroy the work of God. Peter pictures him as "prowl[ing] around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8). Peter sees his hand behind the sufferings that Christians were experiencing; their persecution at the hands of the Roman authorities was demonic (he describes Rome as "Babylon" 5:13). When experiencing such trials they are to recognise them for what they are and, rather than abandoning the faith, stand firm, resisting the devil's schemes.

Nor are they called to stand alone against such an adversary. Peter encourages his readers: "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you" (5:6-7). There is one far mightier than the devil. Christians are to remember that even in times of severe trial they remain safe in the mighty hand of God. "So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good... And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. The power belongs to him for ever and ever. Amen" (4:19; 5:10).

God always has the last word. Christ has defeated the devil and has broken his stranglehold upon the human race. We have been called into fellowship with God through Jesus Christ our Lord. He will complete the work that he has begun in us by his Spirit and will bring us safe to glory.

But in the meantime, be alert. Watch out for the devil's schemes; place no confidence in yourself; trust in the almighty power of God; keep on doing good in the face of evil.

Lord Jesus, we praise you that through your death and resurrection, the prince of this world has been judged and defeated. But help us to recognise that he has not ceased to do his evil work. Help us to see where he is at work and to resist his schemes. We recognise our own weakness and how easily we are led astray. We recognise that the evil one find allies in our own heart and our own desires; we cannot withstand him in our own strength. Fill us with your Spirit that we may serve you alone. Strengthen us that we may fight against his work in this world and increase the boundaries of your kingdom. Restore us and make us strong, firm and steadfast. The power and the glory are yours for ever and ever. Amen

Peter Misselbrook