As Peter draws this letter to a close he gives some final instructions to the believers. These instructions deal with relationships within the church, with God, and with our adversary. But submission to God, humbling ourselves under the hand of God, would seem to be central to Peter’s conclusion.
Submitting to Church Elders
In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,1 Peter 5:5 NIV
“God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.”
In the previous four verses Peter had given instruction to the elders of the church. Here he changes and focuses instead on those who are not elders. While Peter specifically calls out younger people, what he says is just as true for older people.
Younger people have a tendency to think they know better than their elders. I know at least I did. I can’t tell you how many times, as a younger man, I found myself frustrated with those leading the church I served in. And while sometimes that frustration may have been justified, many more times it was not. They had gained much wisdom along with their years and experience. Wisdom that I did not yet have.
It is important that we learn to trust those God has placed over us in the faith. That does not mean that we blindly follow them into sin or heresy. But so long as they are faithful to our Lord and his word, we need to humble ourselves under their leadership.
The passage that Peter quotes should be a warning to us against setting ourselves over, or against, those God has placed over us. When we do, we are actually opposing God.
Submitting to God
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.1 Peter 5:6-7 NIV
God resists the proud and shows grace to the humble. Since that is the case, it only makes sense that we should humble ourselves under God’s might hand. And the promise is that when we do, he will lift us up in due time.
And that is the problem. Due time; some unknown time in the future. I live in a culture that expects instant gratification. We don’t want to wait. Fast food, drive through banking, 2 day delivery, and on and on. I don’t want to have to wait for God to lift me up. To deliver me from all that I am going through. But that is what he calls on me to do.
To trust him with all of my burdens, concerns, frustration, and anxieties. He cares for me more than I can hope to understand. I may never know the reason for much of what happens to me. But I can trust him to grow me and deliver me through it all.
Resisting the Devil
Be alert and of sober mind. 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 the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.1 Peter 5:8-9 NIV
But God is not the only one interested in my well being. There is another. But his concern is just the opposite of God’s. Peter describes the devil as a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. He is my enemy. An implacable enemy who will only be satisfied with my destruction.
How should I respond to him? First of all, by being alert and of sober mind. Be aware that he is lurking, looking for an opportunity to pounce. Be aware of his schemes and don’t be caught off guard. That is not to say that every bad thing that I experience in my life is an attack of the devil. But, as Hal Lindsey said, Satan is alive and well on planet earth.
The second response Peter gives is to resist the devil. Resist the devil and he will flee from us (Jas. 4:7). Stand firm in the faith (1 Cor. 16:13). It is when we wander away from good doctrine, and a godly life that we are most susceptible to Satan’s deception and attack (1 Tim. 1:19).
It is sometimes tempting to think that Satan is focusing all of his efforts on me. But that is not the case. What I am facing is not different than what believers all over the world are facing. You are in good company. So continue to resist.
Your Suffering is Only Temporary
And the God of all 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. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.1 Peter 5:10-11 NIV
Peter closes with a promise. What we are facing in this life is temporary. It may seem endless. But it is not.
God has called me to his eternal glory. And nothing that the devil, or any other person or circumstance, can do will change that (Rom. 8:31-19). The one who has called me to himself, will also lift me up. I can trust him to make me strong, firm, and steadfast. Attributes that are often times sorely lacking in my life.
I may be suffering here for a while. And maybe throughout this lifetime. But it is temporary. God has prepared something for me, for all believers, that far surpasses what I experience here.
Call to Action
You should expect to suffer for your faith; if you are being faithful. We are engaged in a conflict with the forces of spiritual darkness (Eph. 6:12). Don’t be discouraged by it. God will be using whatever happens in your life to further your development.
In the midst of the struggles of this life, humble yourself under the mighty hand of God. Submit to those God has put in authority over you. And resist the attack of your enemy the devil.
- Why do I need to submit to my spiritual elders? What if they are not worthy of that submission?
- How can I patiently wait until that ‘due time’ comes and I am rescued from my struggles?
- How much damage can the devil do to one who is the Lord’s?
The views expressed here are solely mine and do not necessarily reflect those of any other person, group, or organization. While I believe they reflect the teachings of the Bible, I am a fallible human and subject to misunderstanding. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions about this post in the comments section below. I am always interested in your feedback.
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