In 1 Peter 5:8, Peter warns the church: “Your adversary the devil prows around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour.” What are his next words? “Resist him” (v. 9).
Is Peter serious? Can you even imagine resisting a 350-pound cat whose four-inch teeth have a bite force of 650 pounds per square inch? (For context, yours is closer to 150.) At first, resisting Satan sounds ludicrous. On our own we’re less able to resist Satan than Eve was in the garden. In our own strength we, like Judas, would submit to doing Satan’s work (John 13:27) as loyal children to a bad father.
But God appointed a Savior who would crush the head of the serpent. While on earth Jesus plundered Satan’s house (Matt. 12:29), indicating the coming of his kingdom (v. 28). The disciples Jesus sent out perceived that the demons were subject to them in his name. Jesus told them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold I give you authority… over all the power of the enemy” (Luke 10:17—19). The Apostle John saw “an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan and bound him for a thousand years” (Rev. 20:1—2), restricting him from fully deceiving the nations (v. 3).
How Can We Fight the Devil?
Satan does still prowl and devour. But he does so as one fighting a losing battle. Believers are right to expect the God of peace to soon crush Satan under our feet (Rom. 16:20). Believers plus Jesus are stronger than Satan. And yet, Peter still tells us to resist the devil. How can we do that?
Here are 8 ways:
1. Renounce the devil in your baptism. Christian baptism represents a transition from death to life, from darkness to light, from Satanic allegiance to union with Christ (Rom. 6:3-4). To renounce the devil is to refuse to recognize or abide by his authority any longer. It’s an emancipation proclamation, an act of revolution, a declaration of war, and the start of life-long resistance.
2. Give the devil no foothold (Eph. 4:27, NIV). The devil loves opportunities to establish himself in the hopes of gaining more ground. Identify and close up the open doors by which Satan might gain closer access to what is most important to you.
3. Prioritize the full armor of God (Eph. 6:10—20). The devil is wily, he’s a schemer. To stand against him you must don God’s defensive and offensive provisions.
4. Be sober-minded (1 Peter 5:8). The devil has easy work in spiritually casual hearts and homes.
5. Be a faithful church member (Heb. 10:25). Be so predictable in your church attendance that you would feel awkwardly out of place to be absent when your congregation gathers.
6. Live in the Bible. Of all the media in your home, make the Bible the most important (1 Peter 2:2). Read the Bible. Believe the Bible. Memorize the Bible. Talk about the Bible.
7. Pray against Satan’s works (Jude 1:9). Here is Martin Luther’s advice: Since “we are far too weak against the devil and all his … forces arrayed against us … There is nothing for us to do on earth but to pray without ceasing against this archenemy.”
8. Believe that Jesus is greater. At the cross Christ destroyed Satan (Heb. 2:14). Believers overcome him “by the blood of the Lamb” shed on Calvary (Rev. 12:11).
Be encouraged. James promises that the devil will flee from those who resist him (James 4:7).