Bible Study

Is the Devil Out to Get You?

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In this episode, we’re continuing our occasional series where we take a deeper look at verses that are often taken out of context. We often hear one-liner verses used to justify something. But when you look at the context of the verse, you realize that verse doesn’t really mean what people use it to say. We want to make sure that we use Scripture in the way it was intended.

In this episode, we’re looking at 1 Peter 5:8… Let’s dive in!

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

Many people take this passage to explain any time they are struggling with sin. They are sinning because Satan is trying to tempt them.  

People use this verse when they are struggling with porn, coveting, anger, etc… you get the point!

Is it Really Satan?

John Mark Comer has an example in one of his more recent books, Live No Lies. When discussing the enemy, he tells this story: A couple is fighting on their way to church and attributes it to Satan. He asks if it was really the Prince of Evil at work, or their own sinful flesh and desires.

Yes, we need to recognize that the devil is real and spiritual warfare is real, but too often we are quick to attribute our sin to the devil. We need to recognize that in our flesh we are sinful as well.  Our sin is not always Satan’s fault.

Our Own Sinful Desires

James 1:13-15 says, “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully grown, brings forth death.”

It is our own sinful desires that bring forth sin.

1 Corinthians 2:14-3:4 lays this idea out as well. Sanctification is the idea that we are becoming in practice what God has declared us to be in truth. It is the practice of looking more and more like Jesus every day and less and less like your fleshly self.

This passage gives three different categories of people: natural, spiritual, and carnal. Notice that he addresses these Christians as infants in Christ, people of the flesh. They are believers, but baby believers! They were still living as if they were not saved.

We should also see that this passage doesn’t attribute their jealousy and strife to Satan but to their flesh and their living in a human way. We cannot always blame everything on the enemy.

1 Peter 5:8

Now, let’s dive into 1 Peter 5:8!

We’ve talked about the process of reading a verse in context in our previous episodes. You want to start by, ideally, reading the entire book, or at least the chapter before the one you’re focusing on.

The entirety of 1 Peter highlights the reality of suffering for the believer. You see this in every single chapter:

Suffering for Christians is the context of 1 Peter, and we cannot divorce 1 Peter 5:8 from suffering. 

Context of the passage

Now, let’s look at the chapter of 1 Peter 5. Peter is talking to elders (shepherd the flock lovingly), then to younger people. He tells them to be subject to elders. Then he says God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble…. So, we are to humble ourselves and cast our cares on God because He cares for us. Next, we get to the passage we’re focusing on:

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

We want to point out what immediately follows in verse 9: “Resist him (the devil), firm in your faith knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” 

The whole point of 1 Peter 5:8 is that when we experience trials and hardships, the devil will attempt to lead us to reject our faith. But, Peter encourages us to remain firm, resist the devil, and know that trials are promised to those who follow Christ. 

Enduring Faith

The verse is not referring to struggling with sin, it is referring to doubting God’s goodness, doubting God, rejecting our faith, etc. because of trials and tribulations we are undergoing. This fits in really well with the narrative of Job. The devil attempted to use Job’s hardships to get him to curse God and die. The devil was the author of his hardships, God permissively allowed them, and Job clung to his faith. 

This also fits with 1 Thessalonians 3 where Paul was worried the tempter would cause them to lose faith.

1 Peter 5:8 is not referring to a struggle of the flesh (overeating, looking at websites you shouldn’t, watching too much TV, etc…). This verse is talking about how in the midst of suffering, we should turn to God instead of away from Him.

Practical Applications

Asking questions is not the same as doubt. When trials and hardships arise, it is okay to lament and ask questions. Job asked questions, David asked questions, Paul asked questions. But they did not doubt the goodness of God. They never cursed or turned away from God.

So, here are some practical applications of 1 Peter 5:8:

  1. When hardship arises turn towards God instead of away from Him (prayer, reading Scripture, reading books, etc…).
    • Don’t turn away and choose to check out or escape. Lead with the discipline of turning to God and let the feelings follow. Fill your mind with the things of God- it will change you and how you view things!
  2. When hardship arises turn towards God’s people instead of away from them.
    •  Cling to the church and Christian community. Have solid discipleship relationships, community, and a vibrant small group community. Be real and vulnerable with others and mutually support each other.
  3. Remind yourself of the goodness of God and that humans are fallen.
    • You should also remind yourself that even though you are fallen, you have the power of the Holy Spirit!
  4. Evaluate the context of commonly quoted passages.
    • Some things are not always taken out of context. But when you hear one verse quoted by itself- read it in context to get a better understanding of what it really says! 
  5. Shameless plug: if you want to know more about how to read the Bible for yourself, determine context, and all that fun stuff, join the Theologian Haus! This was the heart behind why we created it- we want you to be equipped!

One Degree Shift

In the midst of hardship, we can be tempted to turn away from God instead of toward him. When you face hardship, turn toward God through prayer, consulting godly brothers and sisters, consulting His Word, etc….

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