I’ve noticed a trend.
We Christians like to talk about not fearing anything in the Lord. Simply cast your cares on Him and He will carry them, He will sustain you. Which He will. This is not the issue.
The issue is forgetting that we’re in a war!
I find that most of the time, we’re excited about not having to worry. I mean, I agree. It’s great not fearing anyone or anything but the God who created the universe, who starts life with a breath and ends it with a word. Who can stand against us? The God of the universe has adopted us as sons and daughters, simply for His own pleasure and part of His entire plan for all of history.
But somehow, the thought of being aware, or wary, of the devil’s schemes, comes across as doubting God. Of course, God can snuff him out in an instant. With God, I can defeat temptation. But how often do I really rely on God when I’m faced with temptations? The old me drools at the sight of it, nudging me to go on and just take it! Meanwhile the new me wrestles, knowing God’s word and hating myself for even hesitating to deny it.
I like how Peter puts these two themes together in 2 Peter 5:6-11… the way they’re meant to be digested.
“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time,casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
See, there it is! The exaltation, the glorification that we, undeserving that we are, receive through Christ. We don’t need to be anxious of anything, because God holds it all and He has set us apart.
And then, in the very next sentence, Peter warns, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert.” But wait, so we do have to worry?
No. Ultimately, Christ has won the war. The end of the world is decided. The devil and his advocates, the humans that rejected the promise of God, Jesus Christ, will be forever defeated, while the humans plucked from our destruction and saved and believing will join God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit in heaven forever.
But we are still on this earth, where sin runs rampant and Christ is mocked or forgotten. We are still in the midst of the war! So be on the alert, resist the devil, because he prowls around to trap your soul in his snares any chance he gets! And there is some consolation, says Peter, because believers across the globe are experiencing the same spiritual attacks. So we’re not fearing, we’re not anxious, but we are firm, alert, aware.
I was raised to be aware of my surroundings, to make eye-contact, to know who is walking behind me or towards me and portray an image of “Don’t mess with me.” I’m pretty good at it. If only I were better against the devil and his schemes!
Anyways, I had myself in mind when I read this passage yesterday. Hopefully it is an encouragement to you, as well!