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On Watch

1 Peter 5:8
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (NIVUK)

Recently, I have heard people using a seaman's expression, "It happened on my watch".  It refers to a time when it was their duty to notice what was going on and take the appropriate action.  In these summary verses at the end of Peter’s letter, he addresses church leaders and their apprentices.  It is all about watching out.  In 1 Peter 5:1-5 he teaches how to serve others, humbly like Jesus.  In 1 Peter 5:6-7 he teaches how to monitor our hearts in humility and without fear.  In 1 Peter 5:8-9 he commands us to watch out for the devil’s activities and handle ourselves in a way which will glorify Christ.

Peter urges us to be 'on watch' all the time.  Most car accidents happen, not by deliberately reckless driving, but by a lapse of concentration or a moment of inattention.  That is also the most common way in which followers of Jesus fall into the devil's trap.  They do not set out to be wicked; they just take their eye off the road of holiness.  Peter says that we have a spiritual duty to be on the look-out for the opportunities where Satan may try to destroy our relationship with the Lord, and take action to ensure that does not happen.  Sober mindedness is the opposite of being intoxicated with alcohol, ambition or activity.  Anything which prevents us focussing on the Lord and His Word will leave us open to spiritual attack.
Satan is always on patrol, like an enemy submarine beneath the shipping lanes of life or like a lion in the savannah of Africa.  From the time of Abraham to the Early Church, lions were common in the Middle East and are referred to in 154 verses of the Bible.  This verse talks about a lion that roars; but as you may know, lions who are stalking their prey move silently until they are about to pounce.  When they roar, it is to flush the quarry from the undergrowth, frighten the nervous or immature animals into rash movement, or to scatter a herd in order to separate an individual animal from the relative safety of the herd.  Likewise, Satan does most of his evil tempting in the silence of darkness.  But he also will 'roar' to scare us into unwise action and to try to separate us from our fellow believers and our Lord.
The isolated Christian is easy prey for the Evil One.  Therefore, the regular discipline of meeting with others for worship, fellowship and Bible teaching is essential to help us keep strong in the Lord (Hebrews 10:25). The teaching of God's Word helps us learn how to distinguish the devil's lies from God's truth (Psalm 119:11).  Every Christian needs to be aware that Satan may try to attack us at any time; and so we must be self-controlled and spiritually watchful to resist his lies (James 4:7).  Of course, as Jesus said, watching and praying go together (Matthew 26:41).  So, because our fleshly nature is so weak, we cannot afford a moment's self-indulgence, lest our fleshly hunger becomes the invitation for Satan's assault.  Stay 'on watch' and pray for the help of the Holy Spirit to be self-controlled (2 Timothy 1:7).

Loving Lord. Thank You for this reminder that I live in a morally corrupt world, where I can be spiritually careless, and unintentionally invite the devil's attack. Please forgive me for failing to keep my eyes on the Lord Jesus. Help me to be resolved to watch and pray, staying close to You and to the fellowship of my Christian brothers and sisters. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams