Monday, August 2, 2010

1 Peter 5 – Submission in Spiritual Warfare

Submission to anyone is impossible without humility; because always the truly humble – and only the humble – submit. Peter encourages all believers to "clothe" themselves with humility. The word "clothe" literally means "to tie something on oneself" such as a work apron worn by servants. It describes the attitude of one who willingly serves, even in the lowliest of tasks (cf. 1 Cor. 4:1-5; 2 Cor. 4:7; Phil. 2:5-7). As Peter wrote this verse, he may have recalled Jesus tying a towel around Himself and washing his and the disciples feet (John 13:3-11).

To reinforce his exhortation for humility, Peter quotes from Prov. 3:34 "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble". Without question, the fact that "God resists the proud" is the greatest motivation for saints to adopt the attitude of humility. Pride sets one against God and vice versa. On the other hand, God blesses and "gives grace to the humble". God resists the proud and respects the humble.]

6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

[ "Therefore", "humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God". Why? So that "He may exalt you in due time".

The "mighty hand of God" is descriptive of God's sovereign power at work in and through the elders of the church, as well as in the life experience of His people. Whether for deliverance (Ex. 3:19-20), for testing (Job 30:20-21), or for chastening (Ezek. 20:33-38), God's might is always accomplishing His eternal purposes on behalf of His own (Rom. 8:28).

In their time of persecution, suffering, and testing, this assurance would encourage Peter's audience to persevere, knowing that all their suffering was only so that He may "exalt" them in due time.

If the foundational attitude for spiritual growth is submission, humility is, then, the footing to which that foundation is anchored. To become proudly rebellious, fight against the Lord's purposes, or judge the Lord's providence as unkind or unfair is to forfeit the sweet grace of His exaltation when the trial has fulfilled its purpose (cf. James 1:2-4). The Lord Jesus Himself promised, "Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted" (Luke 14:11).]

8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

[Here we see how humility becomes critical. When we are puffed up and filled with pride, we are satisfied with ourselves. When we are humble before God, then we are ready to be spiritually equipped for battle. Being confident in the flesh to take care of you in a spiritual battle is like bringing a knife to a gun fight. It leaves you at a serious disadvantage.

Satan is a dangerous enemy. He is a serpent who can bite us when we least expect it. He is a destroyer (Rev. 12:11; Abaddon and Apollyon both mean "destruction") and an accuser (Zech. 3:1-5; Rev. 12:9-11). He has great power and intelligence, and a host of demons who assist him in his attacks against God's people (Eph. 6:10). He is a formidable enemy; we must never take him lightly, ignore him, or underestimate his ability. We must "be sober" and have our minds under control when it comes to our conflict with Satan.]

9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.

[As a serpent, Satan, deceives (John 8:44; 2 Cor. 11:13-15). Genesis 3 says that the serpent was more subtle, or cunning, than all the rest of creation. Because he is a subtle foe, we must "be vigilant" and always on guard. His strategy is to counterfeit or corrupt whatever God does. According to the Parable of the Tares, wherever God plants a true Christian, Satan seeks to plant a counterfeit (Matt. 13:24-30, 36-43). He would deceive us were it not for the Word of God and the Spirit of God (1 John 2:18-27). The better we know God's Word, the keener our spiritual senses will be to detect Satan at work. We must be able to "try the spirits" and know the true from the false (1 John 4:1-6).

As believers we have essentially three enemies; the "unholy trinity of temptation":

1. An External foe – The World System (I John 2:15; Rom. 12:2; James 4:4)
2. An Internal foe – The Flesh (Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 2:3; Ps. 58:3)
3. An Infernal foe - Satan (Eph. 6:12)

Think of your flesh as a pool of gasoline. Think of the world as a lighted match. Think of the Devil as the one who strikes the match and throws it. This is how temptation Satan deceives and ultimately destroys. We must be watchful and vigilant to see Satan's deception for what it really is – our destruction.]

10 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect (mend or restore), establish (connect or attach), strengthen, and settle (ground or lay the foundation) you.
11 To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

[This means that we take our stand on the Word of God and refuse to be moved. Ephesians 6:10-13
instructs us to "stand (against his plans)... withstand (the battle)... stand (still standing after the fight)." Unless we stand, we cannot withstand. Our weapons are the Word of God and prayer (Eph. 6:17-18) and our protection is the complete armor God has provided. We resist him "in the faith," that is, our faith in God. Just as David took his stand against Goliath, and trusted in the name of Jehovah, so we take our stand against Satan in the victorious name of Jesus Christ.

In our battle against the world the key is FAITH, that overcomes (I John 5:4-5).
In our battle against the flesh the key is FLIGHT, from temptation (2 Tim. 2:22; I Cor. 6:18; 10:13).
In our battle against the Devil the key word is FIGHT, be the resistance (Eph. 6:12; James 4:7; Rev. 12:11).

A word of caution here: never discuss things with Satan or his associates. Eve made this mistake, and we all know the sad consequences. Also, never try to fight Satan in the flesh. Resist him the way Jesus did, with the Word of God (Matt. 4:1-11). Never get the idea that you are the only one going through these battles, because "your brethren that are in the world" are facing the same trials. We must pray for one another and encourage each other in the Lord. And we must remember that our personal victories will help others, just as their victories will help us.

Had Peter obeyed these three instructions the night Jesus was arrested, he would not have gone to sleep in the Garden of Gethsemane, attacked with his sword, or denied the Lord. He did not take the Lord's warning seriously; in fact, he argued with Him! Nor did he recognize Satan when the adversary inflated his ego with pride, told him he did not have to "watch and pray," and then incited him to use his sword. Had Peter listened to the Lord and resisted the enemy, he would have escaped all those failures.

Both Peter and James give us the same formula for success: "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" (James 4:7). Before we can stand before Satan, we must bow before God. That is why humility is critical for each of us, and the church as a whole.]




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