“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” – 1 PETER 5:8
This has been taught and over-taught to reinforce the idea that the enemy is always out to get us and, though he is by all means out to do that, it couldn’t be more wrong!
Don’t mishear me! The scripture is not wrong, not by an means, rather our interpretation of it is flawed! I propose to you that the reason Peter said to “be alert and of sober mind,” is because he had an understanding that we are bigger lions and should be vigilant so we do not lose that understanding! Being lazy and lacking in understanding allows the enemy into our territory and opens us up to be vulnerable!
I propose to you that the key to this scripture is not that the enemy “prowls around like a roaring lion,” rather that we should always be alert (aware) and never loosen our grip on sound judgment!
Pay attention to his example: “Prowls about like a roaring lion..”
According to an article by National Geographic “Young males [lions] eventually leave and establish their own prides by taking over a group headed by another male.. These intimidating animals mark the area with urine, roar menacingly to warn intruders, and chase off animals that encroach on their turf.”
A male lion will prowl around his territory, marking it, defending it, roaring to let other lions know that he is the boss. He will prowl about for some time seeking any other males that may be trying to encroach on his territory, and will relentlessly attack any trespassers! Any male lions that would hope to obtain their own territory must be vigilant, strong, and steadfast in their pursuit!
We, of course, do not seek to establish our own pride but we certainly go out to establish the territory of our Father; making disciples, spreading the good Word, etc. The lives that we live are unto our Father, from Him to others, and not unto ourselves but this principle remains the same!
“When male lions take over a new territory, they almost always kill the prides’ cubs, since they are not biologically related and do not want to spend energy ensuring that other lions’ genes will be passed on” an article by Live Science states, adding a quote by Beverly Joubert of National Geographic “Female lions also will not be receptive to mating while they are nursing, so killing the cubs enables the male lions to procreate.”
The College of Biological Sciences at the University of Minnesota had this to say “Lions are highly territorial and occupy the same area for generations… The lion’s roar is a territorial display that can be heard from at least five kilometers away. Lions are able to count the number of individuals in a roaring group and will challenge the invaders if they safely outnumber them.”
Now that we have an understanding of the purpose of prowling and roaring, at least when it comes to lions, let us continue!
We have been given a commission to “go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” Not to say that, like a lion, we go out to cause havoc to obtain our own pride; rather we seek out the lost and bring them into the body of Christ. That’s an easy enough connection to make, but lions also kill the offspring of other male lions so that they can breed with the females.. Certainly that is not something that we do! Is it not? Are we not told to “destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ,” which is not so dissimilar from a male lion eliminating any offspring that would interfere with his bloodline; to simplify, we destroy the traps and the wiles of the enemy so that we can reveal the truth of the Father to those who are caught in the lie. (MATTHEW 28:19, 2 CORINTHIANS 10:5)
What if this scripture in 1 PETER isn’t a warning to be vigilant so that we aren’t attacked, rather it is an exhortation to be vigilant so that when we face the enemy in his territory we can overcome him and make disciples of those he has enslaved?
What if this scripture is an urging, by Peter, to always be ready to defend against an enemy that wants to take over our pride; as opposed to a warning to watch out for an enemy that can overcome us. He has already been beaten! Christ on the cross did the enemy in, why in the world would be have to be afraid of him as though he is violent and strong force? That is not the symbolism of the lion concerning the devil!
What if what Peter is saying is that we should be ready because just as a male lion prowls about roaring and fighting as a tactic of intimidation, our enemy seeks to scare us off so that we won’t be a threat to him?
I don’t know about you, but the devil certainly is not a threat to me no matter how loud he roars! Our Savior overcame the world, defeated death, and made our enemy as a fly in our presence; annoying, really really annoying, but otherwise harmless!
I propose to you that, instead of walking around like the enemy has some foothold over us as though he is as strong as a lion, because of what Christ Jesus did we are the bigger lions!
What if, in this race that is set before us, Peter is reminding us to be vigilant in our calling and to always be ready because the enemy seeks to defend his territory by intimidating the saints, as a lion roars and prowls to intimidate other lions. You won’t fight what you are afraid of, but “God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline,” and by the sacrifice of His Son and the gift of His Holy Spirit has given us authority over the enemy! (2 TIMOTHY 1:7)
I love the way that Paul expresses this principle to Timothy, in 2 TIMOTHY verses 2 and 5, saying “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching… always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”
We need more people who aren’t afraid of the devil, who don’t blame everything on him as though he has some power over them. We need people of God who are vigilant, wise, and walk in power and truth and who aren’t afraid to go out into the world and stand against the enemy to free those who are bound by the lie!
I will end this post here, so that it isn’t too much to sit down and read, but I urge you to seriously consider this! I urge you to consider that the enemy legitimately has no power in your life and even though we want to treat him as a strong and powerful lion it is indeed us who are the stronger lions! This scripture is a scripture of watchfulness and readiness, and we should live as such! To treat the enemy as though he is a powerful lion is to give him power that he does not have, and is frankly often an excuse not to move; whether out of fear, laziness, or self-ambition over a desire to perform God’s will.
Our enemy prowls about like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.. Maybe so, but I am the bigger lion!