September 12, 2021
Battle Ready – 1 Pet 5:8-11
When was the last time you were in a fight? When was the last time you actually threw a punch or kicked somebody or shoved someone down? Hopefully it’s been awhile! I still remember this guy wanting to fight me in 8th after school-I literally think he wanted to meet by the bike racks! We got it all set up at lunch! But it was over a girl-and in the end no punches were thrown-and I just talked my way out it! Of those of you who can remember the last time you were in a fight-raise your hand if you won! Way to go! Don’t raise your hand if you lost!
The reality is that we don’t live in a culture where we need to do a lot of physical fighting. We don’t have to worry about defending ourselves from neighboring villages that want to go to war against us. We’re not really worried that Northport or Commack-or some fishermen from Montauk might invade us. Nor do we have to worry too much about protecting ourselves from the attacks of wild animals roaming the forest. The daily necessities of life are basically met-so we spend our days going from the comfort of our homes to the comfort of our cars to the comfort of our offices and schools to back home. Everything is convenient in this world; all our needs are catered too, food delivered on Grub Hub, communication is instant and there’s all sorts of apps for everything and streaming channels to entertain us at our fingertips. Back in the day you had to be home at 8pm to watch the next episode of your favorite show-or else set the VCR to record it. I follow a guy on Insta called Rerun-the-80’s and he posted the Tuesday night choice you had to made-The A-Team on NBC at 8pm or Who’s the Boss and Growing Pains on ABC at 8pm! What do you choose? Now you can be standing in line at the grocery store or sitting on the train watching the entire series on phone! So we’re lulled into this false thinking that the world is a playground. That other than a few bumps along the road (and a minor pandemic) everything ought to be easy and smooth sailing. So it’s tempting to buy into the idea that our primary reason for existence is to have fun and be entertained-that comfort and happiness are our ultimate goals.
But if we could actually peel back the physical layer of this world and see into the spiritual realm, we’d realize that we’re not living in a playground that seeks to cater to all our needs. In fact, the very idea that earth is just a playground for our entertainment is part of the lie the devil hopes we believe-because the reality is that we’re living in a battleground. There’s a war going on-and you have to remember that every day. No matter how innovative technology becomes, no matter how advanced our society gets, or convenient everything is-we are living in the place where good and evil, right and wrong. light and darkness are at war with one another. Eph 6:10-12. That’s what’s really going on! This isn’t some ancient idea or old-fashioned thinking-this isn’t being paranoid or talking like a religious fanatic. This is the reality of what’s taking place in our world, in your life today. I like what one author says-Fight, 117. That means each of us are in the middle of a fight. If you couldn’t remember the last time you were in a fight, don’t miss the obvious truth God’s Word is telling us. Pt1:We’re caught in a spiritual battle every day.
When was the last time you realized that? And It’s been that way from the beginning. No doubt you remember what happened to Adam and Eve-Gen 3:1 There’s the first battle. Mankind had to choose whether to trust God or trust this slippery-tongued serpent who’s trying to make them second-guess what God’s said. And his tactics haven’t changed. This is still the main battle you and I face-wondering if we should second-guess God. Do you find yourself second-guessing what He’s said? Well I know He says not to act this way, but a little bit is no big deal. I think God’s out to spoil my fun, I know what I want, I know what I can handle. Dabbling in sin and disobeying a little isn’t a problem. It’s a different time than it used to be-people have changed. This stuff isn’t a big deal anymore. If God really loved me He’d let me do that. Those are some of the lies the devil wants us questioning. Or just a chapter later-Gen 4:7 Sin is pictured as a beast who’s appetite is never full. Every day we have to face the fact that sin wants to take any opportunity we give it in order to snatch us in it’s claws and not let go. It’s ready to have us for lunch. This is such vivid picture of sin crouching at the door ready to spring.
When was the last time you crouched at the door to scare someone? That’s your homework for the week! To quietly sneak up on someone and then jump out when they’re not expecting it-totally catching them off guard! After they’re done freaking out just tell them you’re testing out a spiritual theory! But that’s what sin is doing. It’s just waiting for us to walk by so it can jump out and catch us off guard-but not for a prank-but instead to say, Hey, here I am and you want what I’m offering. And we’ve got to decide what to do-whether we’ll give in and say, Yeah, I do want that-that sinful action, that wrong attitude is exactly what I want. Or if we’ll do what the verse tells us and master it by walking away, saying-No, no isn’t good for me, I want nothing to do with it. That’s what we should do-but how many times has the sin of bitterness and stubbornness crouched at our door and then caught us in its trap? Deep down we know we should apologize for what we did, humbly own up to our actions-but in our sin we stubbornly refuse to and prolong the argument; or we know we need to forgive someone but we sinfully hold on to bitterness and destroy the relationship. Or we let something we dabbled in become a sinful habit that’s master us! That’s what happened here-sin crouched at Cain’s door and became his master until he ended up murdering his brother. But it doesn’t have to be that way. As much as sin is crouching by our doors, the Lord doesn’t want us to be caught off-guard. Notice that He’s the one warning Cain here in this verse-Look sin is ready to pounce-and you’ve got to be ready -and it was no different when the Lord warned Peter of sin’s impending attack on him.
Look at-Lk 22:31. There’s another vivid description of sin and what our enemy is trying to do-not crouching at the door-but sifting us like wheat. And that was a vigorous shaking that separated the wheat kernels from the stalks. Satan wanted to shake Peter to separate him from his faith in Jesus. That’s intense-to have Satan shake and sift us. And Jesus describes it-Lk 22:34. And what was Peter’s response-Lk 22:33. And I don’t know about you-but I hear myself in Peter words. Back to Pt1-and what’s our biggest undoing? Our own overconfidence! It’s when we say-like Peter-I got this-that’s no big deal. I’d never do that-I’ll be fine. So Pt2:Overconfidence in our spiritual strength quickly leads to failure. And we do that all the time. We think that we’re beyond a certain sin or that we’re strong enough to handle it, or that a certain attitude won’t creep into our heart, or that the next time temptation comes it won’t affect us-we’re capable of defeating it-and yet what often happens? We end up doing the very thing we said we wouldn’t do. Our overconfidence undoes us-1 Cor 10:12. Such wise words! Peter is at this moment thinking life is a playground. Lord, I’ll be fine-that temptation to deny you won’t be an issue-you can count on me. I’ll be strong in the moment and go down swinging. And what a surprise for Peter when the playground turned into an intense battleground. Look at how long Peter’s overconfident words lasted-22:55-56. And Peter said Yes, I was. No-v. 57-58a And this time Peter stopped and thought about it-he remembered what Jesus said and prayed? No-v. 58b-63. You can understand his response-how immediately Peter felt like a complete failure. Back to Pt2. It does every time when we’re trying to win the battle in our own strength-or boast to ourselves that we’ve got this-sin won’t get the best of. But I love Jesus’ words to Peter. Instead of saying-Told you so, I knew I can’t count on you, Peter-time to find someone to replace you. Lk 22:31-32. Even though Peter’s faith momentarily stumbled, it didn’t ultimately fail, because Peter does exactly what Jesus says. He goes on to strengthen the brothers with his words from 1 Peter 5.
This is our main passage this morning-and you can turn there in your Bibles. But these are Peter’s reflections nearly 30 years later. As an older man what does Peter say-1 Pet 5:8a-why? Because this world is not a playground. Peter is the first to tell you that you’ve got to keep your head in the game, you’ve got to be ready, you’ve got to stay alert and have your spiritual armor in place because we’re standing in a battleground. 1 Pet 5:8. And before we look at the rest of the passage, I just want to stop there and ask if that someone is you. Is there an area in your life, an attitude or an action or a sinful relationship or a certain behavior the devil is getting you to indulge in? Is there a spot where he’s got a foothold in your life and he’s just devouring you? Maybe you think you’re getting away with it, maybe you assume no one will ever find out. Maybe you’ve been acting like Peter filled with overconfidence saying-I’ll stay strong and be fine-and all the while you’re getting devoured. Again-talk about vivid imagery! Here’s a-lion pic. Look at how bloody his mouth is! Devoured means to be chewed on, eaten up, worked over, and swallowed-like the way a lion devours a zebra! He’s using the bones to pick his teeth! But that’s the way Peter is describing the affects of sin-and he’s speaking from firsthand experience. So Pt3:Sin doesn’t stop until it has devoured all of you. Sin doesn’t take a few bites and say that’s enough. The devil doesn’t nibble on your heart and say he’s full-just wanted a snack-time to find someone else. No-the devil wants to devour your heart until it’s nothing but a lifeless carcass. He wants your sinful habit to turn into an all-consuming cancer that eats you up from the inside. He wants that little sin you thought you could manage to turn into something that destroys your life and ruins your relationships-whether it’s an action that turns into an addiction or an attitude that becomes unbridled resentment and bitterness-Pt3. Peter knew that all too well-it was way too familiar. Denying the Lord 3 times chewed up his heart-which is why he’s giving us this strong warning. Back to-1 Pet 5:8. Yet he doesn’t just stop there-but gives us a strong encouragement- 1 Pet 5:9. Peter would be the first to tell us that following Christ isn’t easy. He would say that following Christ isn’t for the faint of heart, or those who think they’re extra-spiritual with nothing to worry about. He’s saying that it’s a battlefield-and you have to be ready for it and we’re all in this together-the brotherhood throughout the world-none of us are excluded. Each of us are in the fight everyday. His point is that the devil never stops trying to devour believers-Pt3. Do not think you can manage sin, keep it over here, or dabble in it-it wants to devour you!
Think about it-what good is a devoured apple? Does that look tasty? Anybody hungry saying-I’ll take that-love the core! Let me finish that off! Of course not! Or what about a plate of devoured wings! Anybody want to eat that? Pick through the leftover meat? No way-because devoured wings are useless-throw them out-the good part is gone. And that’s the devil’s goal for you and me. He wants to render you useless and weak, to shatter your confidence in Christ and get you to depend on yourself. Because he knows that when you start depending on yourself-and not Christ-you’ll fail every time. He wants to make you feel so defeated, so discouraged and frustrated that victory seems impossible. He wants you as broken as Peter who wept after denying Jesus. But here’s the great truth of this passage, Peter wants us to learn from his mistakes and understand that failure doesn’t have to be the end. You don’t have to be devoured and useless-1 Pet 5:10-11.
As you hear those words- restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish-do you believe them about the struggles and the battles you’re facing right now? Do you believe God can take the fragments of your life, all the broken pieces from the mistakes you’ve made and sinful decisions you regret-and put them back together? These four words-restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish-highlight His goal for your life. God isn’t there to just point His finger at you when you stumble and shake His head in disgust. He isn’t there to highlight all your sins and failures and say-Sorry, that’s it, this time you really blew it-now you’re out of luck and beyond my help. If that was the case Peter would have experienced it when he denied Jesus on the night before He was crucified. Is there a bigger mistake than that? There isn’t-so this would have been the place for Peter to say, Don’t blow it because if you mess up too much-which I did-God will punish you and give up on you and say you’re done for. But that’s not the case at all, because after Peter’s failure, the Lord didn’t say game over. Instead, the Lord came and restored him. For every time Peter denied Jesus, Jesus confirmed Peter’s faith-John 21:15-17a. Jesus asked him 3 times for all 3 of Peter’s denials. Such intentional confirmation that Peter was still His! He set Peter back on his feet. He established him and strengthened him. Back to 1 Pet 5:10. That’s exactly what happened. Jesus Himself did those things for Peter. So again he’s writing from his own experiences saying-I messed up big time, but the Lord graciously forgave me and restored me and He’ll do the same for you. So while Pt3. Peter is saying-Pt4:God doesn’t stop until He has restored all of you.
This is such a comforting truth because you and I mess up a lot! It reminds me of a great statement I once read that said, Failure is an event, not a person. Think about that-since God’s grace is so big, since His forgiveness and restoration are so abundant, that means you don’t have to label yourself as a failure. If you’ve put your trust in Jesus then your sins and failures were already paid for at the cross. Your failures have been defeated so that word should no longer defines you. You’ve become someone fully restored in Christ. I don’t know if you have a lot of superglue at your house-but anytime one of our kids breaks something they pick up all the pieces and say with confidence, Dad can superglue it. And sometimes I can-but a lot of times I can’t. The way it’s broken the glue doesn’t hold and I can’t put it back together. So confidently saying Dad can superglue it isn’t the truth. And yet confidently believing that our Heavenly Father can superglue the broken pieces and failures of our lives back together is the truth!
And if you look back at the text, Peter tells us why-1 Pet 5:10. God forgives you and restores you not because of anything you’ve done-but all because of His grace shown to you in Christ. It’s all because God was willing to send His Son to die for you that you can be restored and confirmed and established in Him-Eph 2:5,7. It’s grace that saves you-and grace that restores you. And do you remember where it’s all leading? 1 Pet 5:10. That’s God’s goal for you. When was the last time you thought of that as your destiny? Even though right now in life you feel attacked by the devil and all the different ways he tries to devour you, you can’t forget that God is preparing you to dwell in the eternal glory of His Son. Which means God isn’t merely interested in your life for the short-term, He’s in it for the long-term. While you and I get all wrapped up in the here and now and the daily struggles we face, God has eternity in mind. He sees the whole panorama of your life and doesn’t judge you based on your failures in any given moment. Failure is an event, not a person. God isn’t just interested in who you are today, He’s interested in who you are becoming; who He’s shaping you to be-that glorious transformation in your life! But it takes time. There’s going to be trials and difficulties. Following Christ won’t be smooth sailing. There will be ups and downs, moments of defeat; mistakes you’ll make, things you wished you hadn’t done. Obviously Peter wished he never would have denied the Lord-it was probably the biggest regret of his life. But as the Lord restored and strengthened him, he continued on in the fight. His faith was refined in the fire of his failures so that later in life he’s encouraging us in the fight. He’s saying you can’t quit or throw in the towel after you fail. You can’t let discouragement take over or feel that you’re a lost cause because you’ve messed up too much. God is in the business of restoration and He will make much of your life as you offer it up to Him. The key isn’t seeking perfection-we’ll never be perfect until this life is over-the key right now is perseverance and faith-believing that this is true of you-because of God’s grace poured upon you-1 Pet 5:10.