Jaguars, Lions, and Other Big Scary Things
mebrooks, December 20, 2003 2:15:00 AM GMT
By Michael E. Brooks
"Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour" (1 Pet. 5:8).
Our team had been in Parimaribo, Suriname for only a day or so when we saw the headlines in the newspaper, "Jaguar escapes from local zoo." Since Parimaribo is not a very large city, some of us were understandably concerned about the possibility of a confrontation with the animal. When we mentioned this to local people, their reaction was a casual dismissal. One said, "Don't worry, it will turn up." In fact it did, inside a house, making a meal of the family dog.
A few years ago I read an interview with a prominent humanist. This agnostic was asked about the possibility of life after death. The response was another casual dismissal. "Let the future take care of itself; if there is life after death we will deal with it then."
Common to both these situations is the undeniable fact that if one waits until the beast "turns up" every advantage is given to the beast. Do you really want to walk into a dark house where a hungry jaguar is waiting? In the same way, if Biblical teaching of eternity, judgment and responsibility is true, then should we wait until we verify that truth after death before we attempt to prepare? We cannot; it will simply be too late.
I am reminded of Peter's description of Satan as a roaming predator. He is real, he is "out there" and he is looking for us. Peter's command is that we be ever watchful and prepared. Don't be taken by surprise. What pertinent and appropriate advice. No human is equipped to take on a lion unprepared or unarmed. We need all the warning we can get. In our confrontations with the "powers of darkness" we are even more overmatched. We must be prepared, and we must have help. The New Testament is filled with exhortations and instructions designed to help us survive such encounters. Some representative verses are:
"Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good" (Rom. 12:9b).
"Abstain from every form of evil" (1 Thes. 5:22).
"Pray that you may not enter into temptation" (Lk. 22:40).
"But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness" (1 Tim. 5:11).
"Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you" (Phil. 4:8-9).
"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord" (1 Cor. 15:58).
"Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary" (Galatians 6:9).
Preparation to confront Satan is of two kinds. First there is the defensive watch. Don't let him surprise you. Be aware and alert at all times. When he appears, run! Avoid danger, flee from danger, watch for danger. These are sensible and necessary precautions. But they are not all of our preparation.
The second kind of preparation is offensive in nature. It consists of learning and doing God's will and of being continuously busy in good works. In sports there is a truism, "the best defense is a good offense." In Cricket, as long as your team is batting, the other team cannot score. Similarly in soccer, if your team is controlling the ball on the opponent's end of the field, they cannot put it in your net. So it is in spiritual matters. Idleness gives Satan great advantage. No victim is easier to attack that one which is asleep. However, when we are actively involved in doing God's will and in maintaining close relations with him, Satan has no opportunity to harm us. Danger is real, but we can survive and triumph if we remain alert and if we remain in service to Almighty God.
mikebenson, 12/20/03 8:15 PM
Sometimes an illustration really helps a reader "put flesh" on the Scriptures. Your piece was very helpful. I'll use this in an upcoming sermon. Excellent work, brother.
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