Do your remember this song? “In the jungle, the mighty jungle the lion sleeps tonight. In the jungle, the mighty jungle the lion sleeps tonight…”Do you recognize that once popular song? While it is true that most lions sleep from time to time, in our sermon text the Apostle Peter speaks of a lion that never snoozes. This lion has been devouring unsuspecting prey from the beginning of time and remains on the prowl. Even today this lion which is the Devil is still on the prowl and his aim is to take as many of us to hell with him as he can. Therefore if Peter had written that popular song his opening lyrics would have gone something like this. “In the jungle, the mighty jungle this lion never sleeps. In the jungle, the mighty jungle we are this lions prey.”
Since the Devil is out to get us it would be good to know WHAT MAKES US LION ALERT AND NOT LION DESSERT. The Apostle Peter knew what it was like to mess up and sin grievously. He was one who denied even knowing Jesus, not once but three times. Here in 1 Peter 5 he shows us that there are a few things that keep us lion alert: humility, self-control, and grace. Peter continues to give good advice to Christians in Chapter 5 after giving advice about church elders and how young men should act:
#1)Then he begins his lion taming advice in verse 6 where he says, “Humble yourselves therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”
How does humbling yourself before God make you lion alert? I can’t help but believe that the devil loves to see us become proud, arrogant, puffed up and self righteous. What are some signs of this kind of pride which the devil likes to see in us?
– How about when we are the one who always knows it all, who always think we are the one who knows what’s best, what’s better
– Or the person who just won’t listen to another’s opinion, advice or recommendations
– It is hard to teach these people anything new because they all ready know it all and have to have things their way.
– These people even like boss other’s around or do their best to make others feel guilty because they think they know more, and others should meet their expectations.
– It’s their way or the highway. In their mind you can’t drive as good as they can, you can’t work as hard as they do, Their ideas are always better than yours and you can’t do anything as good as they can.
I would imagine that the devil likes it when people become like this because in all reality people like this have a false assumption about themselves, and without knowing it they make themselves more vulnerable to the lions attack and may even be doing his bidding. Why? Because without realizing it their hearts close and become hard and there is no room for Christ or His Spirit to work.
I believe that’s what happened to the Pharisees and Sadducees in the NT. They were the teachers, they thought they knew it all and could not accept the truth about Jesus. The lion had them in his grip!
#2. In the next verse Peter said, “Cast all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you” (v.7). (Him being God)
If we humble our self before God and surrender all our cares, worries, and concerns over to Him it helps us become more lion alert because we are not as overwhelmed and distracted or caught off guard by these concerns.
In fact the Greek word here for “anxiety” carries the idea of “diversion or distraction” and is used in the story of Mary and Martha. As Mary sat at Jesus’ feet, Martha fussed about the kitchen, worrying about food preparations and who knows what else. Her cares and concerns diverted or distracted her attention from the one thing she needed most, and that was to listen to Jesus. She was so overwhelmed and distracted she even complained to Jesus that Mary wasn’t doing anything to help her.
In Matthew 12 Jesus told the Parable of the farmer sowing the seed on different kinds of soils, and how some seed produced a good crop and why others produced nothing at all. Then in verses 18-23 He explains the parable to his disciples making application to people who receive the Word of God. In the parable what caused some to become ineffective and unfruitful? Jesus said that people had received the word and at first accepted it but were eventually distracted because of the pressures in life, persecution, and worries of this age, and the seduction of wealth.
The devil continues to plant diversions, and distractions to ambush us.
– Maybe it’s someone at work who needles you, – maybe gossip or a rumor you are going to lose your job, or insurance or some special privilege. – Maybe you can’t find the work that you want to do,- or maybe you are forced to work too much. The list is endless
The devil want to distract and divert you from God and His will. He wants you angry, or upset, sad, or even envious of others. Don’t let him do this to you. In Ephesians 4:27 Paul told them not to give the devil a foothold.
Trust in God. Don’t become lion dessert but remain alert by humbling yourself under God’s mighty hand. There is no better place to take your concerns than to God. God loves you and me and has promised to take care for us.
Peter said, “Cast all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you” (v.7).Therefore do what the Greek verb “cast” implies. Take every care and concern and pack them one by one into a bag and then give to God to carry. God will take care of our problems better than we ever could.
Does that sound too easy? Whether you realize it or not we do it all the time. For example, does paying the bill really stress you out? If it does what do you do? You give that responsibility, that thing which causes you stress and anxiety to someone else, maybe your spouse if they can handle the pressure better. Ladies if taking care of and maintaining your car is beyond your ability and stresses you out, what do you do? Pass the responsibility on to another, either your husband, a friend, or you pay a mechanic to take care of that problem.
Peter said put take up those cares and concerns that distract you and give them to God. He will take care of them one way or the other. One problem we have is that there are certain things we simply don’t want to totally let go of but we really need to.
If we do make it that far and throw all of our cares on God it is important that we don’t become lulled into a false sense of security thinking that the danger of attack has passed. The Devil won’t give up so easily therefore we need to remain lion alert;
#3. Peter tells us in vs. 8, 9.“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the Devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”
To be “self-controlled” means to have a clear head. We realize that danger and realize that temptations are all around. We are more on the alert when we remove things that may hamper our good judgment.
We also exercise self-control when we don’t leave our weaknesses exposed to the Devil’s temptations. It was Luther who said that the ‘Devil climbs over the fence where it is the lowest.’
For example: – If our mind is cluttered with lustful thoughts we won’t be prepared to flee from temptation as Joseph did when Potiphar’s wife asked him to sleep with her. – If our mind is muddled with materialism it will be hard to offer our first fruits to God.
– If our mind is packed with pride it will be hard to keep from putting other people down so we look good.
-If stealing is a weakness don’t stay in a room where someone else’s money is lying around unattended. – If gossiping is a weakness stop hanging out with those friends who are quick to spread the latest rumors. – If you continue to let yourself be influenced by these temptations you only put yourself in the lion’s den and it will only be a matter of time before you are devoured.
It’s important to remove the clutter from our lives which hampers good judgment, and then shore up our weakness so you stand firm in the faith.
We especially can stand firm in the faith when we stand firm in God’s Word. Jesus proved that God’s Word could topple the Devil when He was tempted out in the wilderness. Therefore it is important to arm yourself with God’s Word. It is one of our most powerful weapons to protect us when the lion attacks. Memorize as many Bible verses as you can so that you can make quick use of it like Jesus did when Satan tempted Him.
While humility and self-control will prepare us against attacks by the Devil ultimately it’s only God’s grace that will bring us through these attacks. We need God’s grace because even though we know we should cast our anxieties on Him we often fail to. Although we know that we should stay out of the lion’s cage, time and time again we put ourselves in harm’s way. Thank God that he is a God of undeserved love and that he picks us up when we fall.
Listen to the promise that Peter extends to us. “And the God of grace who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”
When you fall, turn to Jesus for forgiveness because He has defeated the Devil by refusing to fall for any of his tricks and He undid the Devil’s handiwork by taking the punishment of hell we deserved.
Can you imagine how disappointed the Devil must have been at Jesus’ resurrection? He thought that he had us all because we all sin. He thought he destroyed the Son of God and no more would turn and pledge their allegiance to the Father. He thought he had defeated God’s Son but in reality, at the cross he was the one that was totally defeated.
Since the Devil could not and cannot defeat Jesus, he has gone to plan “B” – attacking us, the crown of God’s creation.
Luther said that where God builds a cathedral there Satan builds a chapel.
Be ready for those attacks. The Devil does not want you to believe that Jesus won forgiveness for you. He will bring up past sins and shake them in your face and asks how a just God could love anyone so filthy, anyone like you?
And the answer is the one that always topples Satan plan, He loves us because of Jesus and what He did for us.
– Through Christ the victory is ours. Through Christ, God will restore us to the glory He intended people to have before sin entered the world.
-Through Christ God has made us strong so we can carry out works that please God.
Yes, God loves us because of Jesus. If we remain in Christ then the lion’s roar will sound more like an annoying yelp from a little dog.
It’s true that “In the jungle, the mighty jungle the lion is waiting to nab us tonight…” so stay alert lest you become desert.
But don’t be afraid because after all it’s God’s jungle and He will keep you safe in Christ Jesus.
Therefore as you walk through the jungle, humble yourself under God’s mighty hand by casting all of your cares on Him. Trust that he is in control no matter what quicksand you run into. Remain watchful standing firm in the faith, armed with the Word. And the God of grace who has called us to eternal glory will keep you safe. Amen.