I remember my dad sharing a story from World War II. He worked as a scout for an artillery unit and they had bedded down for the night. They had pulled back from the front line, so were expecting a peaceful night.
When they woke the next morning every one of the several men who had been posted to guard the camp during the night was gone.
There were no bodies, they had just disappeared. It is suspected that a Nazi commando unit had snuck up on the camp during the night, silently killed the guards and then dragged their bodies away.
The sentries were never seen again.
He said the fact they disappeared unnerved his unit more than if the Nazis had killed them and left their bodies behind.
It is the nature of warfare. A person must never let their guard down and it is no different in spiritual warfare.
Peter understood spiritual warfare and he gained that knowledge first hand through his own personal failure. And he used that experience to warn us:
8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour . (1 Peter 5:8)
When he writes that we are to be vigilant, Peter uses the Greek word “gregoresate” which means “to be watchful” or “alert” and includes the idea to be “fully awake.” It refers to the role of the night watchmen who are guarding the city at night. They cannot slumber, they must always remain attentive, peering into the darkness looking out for an attack.
The tense is also interesting because it means to be “continually or perpetually alert,” never let your guard down. We can’t be on guard one moment and then let it down when it seems quiet or safe.
Expect the unexpected at the unexpected time.
Then Peter tells us why, because our adversary, the devil, is on the prowl. The devil is always probing, looking for a moment when our guard is down.
The Greek word “antidikos” used for adversary is a legal term referring to a prosecutor or lawyer accusing a person of crimes or wrong doings in a court of law.
Peter is warning that Satan’s preferred method of attack is condemnation.
The Bible clearly says there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ (Romans 8:1), but sometimes Satan throws darts at us when we are least expecting them.
And Peter was fully aware of this, because of his own personal run in with the satanic realm.
Just before Judas’s betrayal of Christ, Jesus warned Peter:
31 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; 32 but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” 33 But he said to Him, “Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!” (Luke 22:31-33 NASV)
Satan had his sights set on Peter, but the boastful Apostle said that he was ready to go to prison and even die for Christ. And when Judas led the High Priest and his guards to the garden to arrest Christ, true to his word Peter grabbed a sword and lopped off the ear of one the High Priest’s slaves (John 18:10).
Peter was ready to die protecting Christ.
But Satan was on the prowl probing for a weakness.
After Jesus told Peter to put his sword down and healed the man’s ear, the apostle followed the group with the imprisoned Christ to the high priest’s home. Peter was braced for a fight. He had already shown his mettle in the garden.
As the members of the High Priests’ guards and others gathered around the fire late at night to keep warm, Peter joined them. He was undoubtedly keeping a wary eye on the soldiers, so Satan chose a different mode of attack.
He used a small slave girl to bush whack the apostle:
56 And a servant-girl, seeing him as he sat in the firelight and looking intently at him, said, “This man was with Him too.” 57 But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know Him.” (Luke 22:56-57 NASV)
The man who was prepared to battle soldiers was caught completely off guard by her accusations and denied knowing Christ. Luke writes that when others around the fire made similar accusations, Peter denied Christ two more times. The rooster crowed as Christ predicted, and Peter fled, weeping bitterly (Luke 22:62).
Satan no doubt hounded Peter with condemning thoughts about his failure long after Peter returned to serve Christ as an apostle. Satan loves to throw past failures in our face.
And years later, as he wrote his first letter, Peter understood that he had briefly let his guard down.
It is the same for us today.
Satan can throw insignificant ,even unsuspecting, condemning darts at us and we accept them. However, when we do this it creates a breach in our mind and opens the door to a bombardment.
Peter warns us to be vigilant.