The fact that each of us has to face is that our adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (v. 8). How does he do this? John Brown, in his commentary on 1 Peter, summarises the activity of the adversary in these words: ‘He exerts himself, by his numerous agents, infernal and human, in counteracting the Divine benignant plan for the salvation of men. Error, sin, and misery, in all their forms, are, ultimately, his work; his animating principle is hatred of God, and his leading object the maintenance and extension of the power of evil.’ Here Peter likens the devil to a roaring lion; elsewhere he is likened to wily snakes and devious angels. Are there any legitimate deductions that we can make from this graphic illustration of a roaring lion?
The first is that we have a common enemy, the devil. He is the enemy of God and has been so since he rebelled in heaven. In the Garden of Eden, he showed himself to be also an enemy of the human race when he persuaded our first parents to sin. And he is the enemy of Christ’s cause, an enmity which he reveals in many different ways. He is against every single believer in Jesus.
The second deduction is that we have a cunning enemy. His strategy is like that of a roaring lion. The reason why a lion roars is to petrify its prey, and a roar of a lion can be heard several miles away. Apparently it is not too difficult to outrun a lion because it can only keep up a good speed for about 100 yards. If the prey could think intelligently, it would keep at least 100 yards away from the prowling lion. What is dangerous about a lion is not always the loudness of the roar but how near another animal is to it. But the roar can so petrify it that it does not flee.
The third deduction is that we have a confident enemy. He expects to find prey. It is the same with a lion. When it goes hunting, it is aware that there will be easy prey; there will be sick animals, young animals, isolated animals which it can easily catch. The devil does not think he will not find victims. Experience alone tells him that there is usually Christians in a similar state to what Peter was in that evening in Gethsemane.
A fourth deduction is that we have a cruel enemy. This is literally the case with a roaring lion. Once it gets hold of its prey, the victim is finished and sometimes lions will begin to eat before the animal is dead. There is no mercy for the prey of a lion. And the devil will not be lenient to any unprepared Christian he attacks. Many can testify, with Peter, that it is not pleasant to endure the attack of the enemy.
So how can we deal with such an enemy? We will think about that tomorrow.