Faith in the Furnace

There Is A Lion (1 Peter 5:8-11)


The apostle Peter wrote his first letter to Christians who were suffering for Jesus’ sake. Peter writes to encourage them to remain holy and live righteously during difficult times. I want to spend this lesson looking at how he ends his letter to these suffering servants. This book is intended to open our eyes and see what we should expect as we try to serve the Lord. Peter starts with a vivid image in 1 Peter 5:8.

The Roaring Lion (5:8)

Peter begins by telling us to watch out and be sober-minded. The warning is the need to be alert. Be careful. Be watching. Pay attention. Be clear-headed. Have clear thinking. Why? Why do we need to be aware of what is going on? Why do we need to be alert? Why do we need to be watchful and pay attention? Listen to what Peter describes in 1 Peter 5:8.

Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8 ESV)

What a visual! Please picture in your mind how Peter describes the devil. The devil is not a cute, cuddly kitten. The devil is not an innocent pet. The devil is like a roaring lion, prowling around. I recently took my daughter to Lion Country Safari that is just a little west of here. They have a lion exhibit that you can drive through. I took her a couple of months ago and we were fortunate to see the lions out. Typically they are laying down due to the heat and hiding in the shade. But this time they were all out. There were a couple on one side of the car and a few on the other side of the road. Not only were they out, they were prowling. They were pacing back and forth along the fence line, staring at each other. Then they starting roaring. It was amazing and it was terrifying. If the lions were not behind fences and we were not secure in our locked car, those lions were ready for attack. They were not sleeping. They were roaring. They were not laying down. They were pacing back and forth.

Peter wants us to open our eyes to the spiritual world. Be alert. Watch out. You better have a clear mind and clear thinking because you have an adversary. You have an enemy and he is pacing like a lion. He is looking for someone to devour. He is not asleep. He is not resting. He is not in the corner in the shade. He has his eyes on you. He is looking to destroy you. He wants to devour you. Now do you think Peter had a good understanding of this idea? Do you remember what happened to Peter? Do you remember what Jesus taught Peter about this? Listen to what Jesus told Peter.

Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. (Luke 22:31–32 ESV)

I want you to pay attention to the wording. Satan has demanded to have you. Satan is pictured as capturing his prey. He has demanded to have you. By the way, the “you” is plural. Jesus is referring to all the apostles while addressing Peter. Satan has demanded to have all of you, to sift all of you like wheat. Now think about this imagery. Sifting wheat was an action to sort between what was wheat and what was chaff after harvesting. Sifting was an idiom for severe testing. You are going to be put through something hard. This is what Peter is teaching in his letter. The devil is trying to destroy you. The devil is trying to show that you are false by making your life hard. The devil is looking to destroy your faith and destroy you. The devil is using your suffering to destroy you. So what are we supposed to do?

Resist Him (5:9)

Peter says to resist him. Now I want us to think about how encouraging this is. You can resist the devil. You can stand against this roaring lion that is trying to devour you. You are not destined to be ruined by him. How do you resist him? When it seems impossible to stand against this roaring lion, what are we supposed to do? What does resisting look like? Look at what Peter says in verse 9. “Resist him, standing firm in the faith.” Hold on to your faith. Hold on to your salvation. Hold on to the truth. Do not give up on what you have in Christ.

Now listen to what Peter says next. You can resist the devil, standing firm in the faith, “knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.” Friends, when you are suffering, you are not alone. Now notice that Peter does not say that everyone is going through the exact same thing as you. That is not the point. The point is that you are not the only one who is being attacked by this roaring lion. You are not alone in your suffering. You are not alone in your pain and your hurt. I am blessed that I am asked to preach at other congregations in gospel meetings. During that time I am allowed to get to know people and hear about their pain and their hurts. The last gospel meeting I had was at a larger church and there were so many people who would tell me about how they needed to hear about hope because of what they lost and how they suffered.

So what is the picture? The picture is that you can stand firm in your faith, resisting the devil who is trying to devour you because you are not alone in resisting him. There are other people in this church who are doing the same thing through the suffering. There are other people in this county doing the same thing. There are other people in this region doing the same thing. There are other people in this state doing the same thing. There are other people in this country doing the same thing. There are other people all over the world who are standing firm in the faith even though the devil is trying to devour them. Now here is the sad thing. The more we choose to not assemble together, the harder it is to see that we are all suffering and holding strong. As churches eliminate opportunities to get together, the harder it is for us to connect with each other and see that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by others. Why did the Lord tell us we need to get together as much as possible? He told us so that we could stir each other up to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24-25). We need each other because we are going to be tempted to give up. We need to encourage each other all the more as we see the day approaching, not all the less (Hebrews 10:25)! Unfortunately, we can forget one of the important reasons we need as much time together as possible. We need encouragement. We need to share our struggles and our suffering so we can know that we are all together standing firm against this lion who is trying to destroy us.

The Hope (5:10-11)

Look at how Peter ends this thought in verse 10 with great hope for us.

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. (1 Peter 5:10–11 ESV)

Notice the time frame given. After you have suffered for a little while… No suffering feels like a little while. Suffering feels like forever. Suffering feels like it is never going to end. The dark days in our pain swallows us up because it seems like life will now always be this way. But Peter reminds us that what you are experiencing will not always stay that way. Notice the promise God makes at the end of verse 10.

The God of all grace who has called you to his eternal glory will restore you, confirm you, strengthen you, and establish you. The God of all grace can get you through to the other side. He can restore your broken heart and shattered spirit. He can support you and firm up those foundations in your life. He can give you the strength you need to keep going forward. He can establish your life and make it solid again. This is the essence of the God of all grace. He will give you the grace you need in the moment and carry you through to other side if you will resist the devil and stand firm in the faith. The Lord told the apostle Paul this as well in the midst of his suffering.

Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:8–9 ESV)

Notice that Paul received the same answer. God’s grace is enough for you to get through this time of suffering. God is there for you in this season of suffering and he has promised to restore you, support you, strengthen you, and establish you.

Look at verse 11. He has the power to do this. He has the dominion and the rule to change everything. Trust him in your suffering. Do not forget that the devil cannot do anything without the knowledge and allowance of the Lord (see Job 1-2). God is in charge and you can trust him to support you and restore after you have suffered for a little while.


I want to conclude with four summary reminders from our lesson. First, we need to know our enemy. Our enemy is trying to destroy us through our suffering. His purpose in our suffering is our destruction. He is looking to wreck you and devour you through the pain you experience. So when you suffer, know what is happening. The enemy believes you will give up your faith and give up on God if he can just take away enough things in your life. The enemy believes that if he can hurt you in just the right ways, you will not continue to serve the Lord. So he is looking for your weak points so he can consume you.

Second, you are able to resist the devil in your temptations and trials. You do not have to obey him. In fact, we are commanded to resist him. If you do not resist, then you cannot win. If you do not resist, then you cannot enjoy the promise of verse 10. With God on your side, you have the power to resist him. With the armor of God worn, you can stand strong when your life crumbles.

Third, you are not alone in your suffering. We feel alone. We feel like no one understands. We can feel like we are just sitting in the pit of darkness. You are not alone. The devil is attacking them too. I am sure that if I asked everyone to share how the devil has been attacking them this week, no one is going to say that he is not attack them and they have been left alone. We often do not have much time to get to know each other’s stories and what we have gone through and what we are presently going through. But we all are, to varying degrees, experiencing trials. You are not alone in your suffering.

Finally, your suffering will end and God will give you the support and strength you need. God has the grace you need to get through today if you will seek him. Do not worry about this week, this month, or this year. We look too far down the road and miss the grace that we need to get us through the day.

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