The third of our statements deals with the relationship of Satan toward believers—“I will snatch them” or “I will steal them away.” While we would affirm in our theology that the believer is held by Christ and can never be separated from his hand (John 6:37; 10:28; Romans 8:37-39), the reality of Satan’s eventual failure does not dissuade him from this attempt to make us stumble and fall away from our Lord and master. He is a persistent foe. This phrase could be embellished with some of the means that our enemy employs: Ego Territabo (“I will intimidate”) or Ego Onerabo (“I will weary” or “I will oppress”).
In contrast to Jesus, who gives life and life abundant (John 10:10), but the thief, which is Satan, only comes to kill and destroy. He comes to undermine the work of the fellowship and to frustrate our labors. Though he knows he cannot win, he strives toward that end. Peter describes him as a roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8) seeking someone to devour. Jesus describes him as a wolf, seeking to prey upon the weak sheep (John 10:12). John describes him as a dragon who deceives the world and seeks to lash out and destroy the followers of Jesus Christ (Revelation 12:9,17).
So, what is our response to this kind of wild enemy. Peter says that we are to be sober-minded and watchful. Being sober-minded means that one’s mind must be clear from distractions and from all of those things that would flatter us so as to lead us astray. As the man who is drunk acts in a way that is both unwise and unlike his character, so the man who is sober-minded should act in a spirit of wisdom and in a way that is consistent with the Godly character that the Spirit has instilled in us. It is to remain self-controlled even in situations where threat arises.
And to be aware of those threats, we must be watchful. This is a military term reflecting the guard that we must have on the wall to warn us of the temptation of sin (Ezekiel 3:16-21). We are not to be like the ostrich burying its head in the sand. We must not be found asleep at the post. The Apostle Paul even uses this term of watchfulness as an analogy of being alive (1 Thessalonians 5:10), a reminder that life and death are the matters with which we are dealing; a serious reminder indeed, particularly in a world that rarely takes seriously the warnings that scripture sets before us.
Though Harry Houdini may not be a model example of Christian faith (his heritage was Jewish), he is an example of what it means to be sober-minded and watchful as a Christian. Many of his stunts, from the perspective of an outside observer, were death-defying, reckless, and foolish. Yet, when you realize that Houdini never performed a stunt that had not been planned out and rehearsed many times with many safeguards in place, you must confess that reckless is not a term that can be properly applied. From the perspective of a non-Christian, sometimes the work that Christians do seems equally reckless and foolish. Christians regularly go and minister to people in plague infested areas knowing that they too might contract the disease, but doing so for the sake of the Gospel. My favorite missionary, John Paton, went to Tana Island in the New Hebrides which was populated by several cannibal tribes and his life was at constant risk. Yet, he went anyway. I have worked with inner-city drug addicts in a place where at one time the shelter’s director was stabbed by a man staying there. The Christian goes, though, because the Christian understands that the call of God is more important than the risks. At the same time, the Christian goes knowing the risks that are present and does not ever go until one has bathed himself in prayer and sought the prayers of others. Like Houdini, there are risks certainly, but the risks are approached in sober preparation.
The Devil seeks to snatch you out of the hand of God. That cannot be done, but that does not mean that the resultant tug-o-war on your life will always be a pleasant thing. At the same time, in knowing who the victor will be, it enables you to stretch beyond your limits and grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Given our fallen and sinful state, there is a great deal of stretching left to be done to prepare us for God’s heaven—what are we waiting for; step into the call that God has placed upon your life.
Posted on April 05, 2011, in Pastoral Reflections, Pensees and tagged calling, Ego Eripiam, Ego Onerabo, Ego Territabo, Eternal Security, Harry Houdini, I will snatch, I will snatch out of his hand, John Paton, sanctification, sober-mindedness, spiritual sobriety, the Christian life, watchfulness, watchman on the wall, worldview. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.
I have been reading 1 Peter lately, and today I started reading 2 Peter. I have decided that I will study more this word knowledge he uses(in Ch. 1:2,3), which seems to be the key to godliness and escaping the corruption that is in the world–and the devil. I suppose this knowledge means to really get to know God intimately, to know His charater, even to know what He is thinking, His desires.
Anyway, I appreciate your post and I am writing more myself. I don’t think many are reading my posts, but I have decided just to write for myself, because it helps me to get my thoughts straight. I pray more people would read your stuff because you have so much good to say. Sometimes I suppose you feel like Noah if no one makes a comment or gives any indication that you have said anything of value. That’s how I feel sometimes. But I am taking comfort in the fact that others besides me are going through the same trials. I am refering to 1 Peter 5:9. So keep resisting and be steadfast in faith.
The key always, as we have discussed before, is to be faithful to doing what God has called you to do. You are never “just” writing for yourself, though writing for yourself certainly helps to organize thoughts and gather together ideas. One of the things that business executives are talking a lot about now is the importance of their CEOs blogging, all for the same reason. The more we communicate, the better we will be at communicating. But you are writing primarily for God and for his glory, therein is the key. Also, to write for children and grandchildren to know your heart is valuable. And then in this online format, you never know who will stumble upon your blog site and you will bless them.
I think that the key to getting people on the site to read your material is to focus on things that will be useful to others, minimize personal catharsis, and to use well the tag lines. Put as many tags as you can humanly consider applying to your particular article, and then to post regularly. When I began posting blogs, I aimed for 4-5 new posts per week (some weeks I had more). The bigger and broader your footprint, the more chance of folks stumbling on your material and finding something that they will find meaningful.
In terms of knowledge, there is some debate as to just how we are to understand the term. Since Peter is Jewish and it is my persuasion that Peter is writing to a predominantly Jewish audience (he is the Apostle to the Jews according to Paul), I understand this idea of knowing that Peter uses in his second letter in a Jewish way. And that means not simply an accumulation of knowledge, but knowledge in relationship. For example, I know lots of things about my wife, but it is those facts in conjunction with our relationship that causes me to “know” her in a Hebraic way.
In 2 Peter, I take the list in those verses of chapter one as being progressive. To begin with, he says, add virtue and knowledge and self control, etc… In other words, start with virtue and then go up from there. The end goal, of course, is the kind of sacrificial love that is modeled by Jesus in his earthly ministry and on the cross…agape love. Ultimately, I think that it is this kind of godly, agape love that helps us to escape the “corruption of this world”, though agape is built upon a foundation of knowledge.
Be encouraged in your writing. I began several years ago when a student of mine (at the time, I was bi-vocational, also teaching at a local Christian High School) challenged me to begin blogging. I have enjoyed the medium and have been very humbled by the response. The site is nearing 80K hits, and while there are lots of sites with a lot more hits than that, the number humbles me when I think that our Father has chosen to use my reflections here to bless the lives of some and to challenge the lack of faith of others.
May God bless you in your continued study of His word,