“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8
Interesting, isn’t it, how some childhood experiences are permanently seared into our memory banks? One of my unforgettable memories is of watching my boyhood friend Bobby getting hit by a car. After church one Sunday morning, he and I were standing on the front steps talking. Why he decided to bolt into the street between two parked cars I’ll never know. But that is exactly what he did. As Bobby ran between the cars, his mother, who could see a car coming, screamed: “Stop! Bobby, Stop!” Whether he didn’t hear her or didn’t care I’m not sure. He just kept running. What haunts me to this day is the memory of the sound of screeching brakes and the thud of his body against the car’s fender. I need to tell you that I am tired of hearing the thud of fellow followers of Jesus getting hit by Satan. Like friends who thought that the most important thing in life was career advancement, only to hear the thud of the long-term damage to their kids and spouses. Or of those who sold out to the allure of an affair—or to the addictive seduction of porn—and are now left with the regrets of the collateral damage of their choices.
It’s easy to think you can get ahead by putting other people down or that intimidation and manipulation are handy tools for staying in control. But the thud of ruined relationships and reputations is a big price to pay for doing whatever is necessary to keep yourself on top. Lying to weasel out of a problem erodes the trust factor and compromises the strength of your character. The list of thud-able choices is long and the consequences are often irreversible.
Granted, we are sometimes blindsided by our ignorance or instinctively wrong about our responses to life. But thankfully, God is never blindsided. And, He’s never wrong. From His vantage point He has a clear view of Satan’s destructive attempts to thud our lives. So, like Bobby’s mom, He warns us with clear and unmistakable shouts from His Word. God’s Word is full of warnings about things like greed, selfishness, lying, lust, gossip, hatred, bitterness, envy, argumentative attitudes, stealing, murmuring, oppression, and ignoring the needs of the poor and underprivileged. So, it’s not that there is a lack of clarity in His voice. The problem is ours. Too often, like Bobby, we either are not listening, or we just don’t care.
The warning shouts of Bobby’s mother came from a heart of love and concern for Bobby’s welfare and safety. God warns us as well because He loves us deeply and wants to rescue us from the impending disaster of that thud in our own lives. It’s easy to think of God’s warnings and prohibitions as His attempt to take all the fun out of our lives, but that’s so wrong. In fact, nothing would give Satan more joy than getting you to think like that, because the more you think like that, the easier it is for him to “devour” you. And that’s a thud that I never want to hear!
- Think of a situation when you ignored God’s warnings and experienced Satan’s damage in your life. Envision what you could have done to heed the warnings. How would your life be different today if you had listened?
- Is there an area of your life where Satan has so controlled you that you habitually repeat the damage of his devouring desires for your life? Be specific.
- Look through God’s Word and memorize at least three warnings about that area of your life, and pray that every time you are tempted to fail you will remember the warning and avoid the thud of a disastrous consequence. What positive habit of righteousness could you put in its place?