We Have an Enemy

1 Peter 5:1-5 ESV

“So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’”

Who are the elders among us? They are men of God within the true church who are given the charge to shepherd God’s flock, to nurture us in the Lord, and to counsel and direct us in the ways of the Lord. Another name for them is pastor, but not all pastors are elderly, and not all elders are what we typically refer to as pastors. But they are spiritual leaders in the church.

These elders are to exercise oversight over the church (the people of God) as God would have them do it, but not domineering over those in their charge. They are not to use their positions of power and authority in an abusive manner, in other words. They are not to lord it over the people in an oppressive manner or to browbeat or to persecute the sheep.

Instead, they are to rule or to lead by example. They are to live what they preach. They are to show us by their actions how we should be living our lives instead of just preaching it, especially if they are not living it, and especially if they are knowingly living the exact opposite of what they preach. So, this requires that they be both humble and honest (sincere).

We who are under the rule of elders are to submit to those in authority over us as we would to Christ, but never to submit to sin or to disobedience to our Lord or to compromising our faith so that we don’t offend people with the truth. God’s laws, i.e. his instructions to the church, are to trump any human authority if that human authority tries to persuade us to disobey God. And there are many pastors out there leading people to disobey God.

Regarding how we are all to treat one another, we must be humble, which is the opposite of being proud and arrogant. For, it has to do with having an honest evaluation of oneself in light of God and his word, and it is not taking credit for what God does in our lives, either, or bragging on oneself. It gives all the glory to God for anything good that is accomplished in our lives.

1 Peter 5:6-11 ESV

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

Most importantly, we are to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God. We are to bow before him, surrender our lives to him, do what he says to do, say what he says to say, and to whom, and go where he sends us. And this does require much humility, for we will be rejected, opposed, accused falsely, called names, and persecuted for following our Lord.

If we are looking to be exalted in this life, then we are doing what we are doing for the wrong reasons. We are not to seek the praise of other humans. We are to do what God says to do for his glory and praise. And we should do what is right even knowing we are going to be opposed and rejected.

We should never shy away from obeying our Lord out of fear of rejection. If we are persecuted, we get right back in there and we keep pressing forward. We may have to cry it all to the Lord first, for it hurts to be mistreated, but then we don’t let that keep us from ministering God’s love and grace to others. We just lean on God’s love and support.

But we don’t throw ourselves into situations unwisely. We enter into situations prayerfully, seeking the Lord’s counsel and wisdom, and we take God and his word seriously, even if others mock us or oppose us. And we are watchful against the devil’s schemes against us and for those who would desire to trip us up with our words in order to accuse us.

For, we have an enemy (our adversary) who opposes us day and night who is out there just waiting for the opportunity to take us down. He goes by the name of Satan (or the devil, or Lucifer, or the Dragon). So, we have to resist him, not just resist him when he tempts us to sin, but in all ways.

And we must stand firm in our faith, and oppose Satan’s lies, and speak the truth even if we are cut down for doing so. We are never to let fear of man keep us from standing on the truth of God’s word. And we are not talking here about mere opinions or discussions over trivial matters, but we are talking about what truly matters for eternity. We must not bend.

And the encouragement here is that we are not alone in this battle. All those who truly are following Jesus with their lives, in holiness and righteousness, are going to be opposed and persecuted, and Satan is going to try to take us down any way he can, and that is why we must resist him.

The other encouragement here is that the suffering we are now being called upon to endure is not going to last forever. It has an end. And Jesus is there to comfort, encourage, strengthen, and help us through it all. Through it all he will mature us in our walks of faith and strengthen us so that we are prepared for even harder trials yet to come. And he will be conforming us to his likeness through it all, too.

Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer

Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897

Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.

O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.

O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.

Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.

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