The Battle for Hope

1 Peter 5:5-8
And all of you must clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour.

In his final address in this letter, Peter tells us three important things to avoid: pride (v.6), anxiety (v.7) and the devil (v.8). Is it possible that Peter is changing subjects every sentence? No. In fact, Peter doing exactly what Paul does in Ephesians 4 when he says, “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger. Don’t let the devil have that kind of foothold.”

In other words, there is a battle for our hope. There is an enemy. A personal, supernatural force for evil called the devil. 

In his introduction to The Screwtape Letters, CS Lewis argues there are two equal and opposite mistakes people fall into when it comes to the devil: over-belief or under-belief.

It’s either an unhealthy, superstitious fear where people see the Devil behind everything. Or else they just laugh the idea of a devil off as part of a premodern, unscientific, ignorant view of the world. We’re either deathly afraid of the devil, or laugh him off as fiction.

But you never see the Bible really dealing with the devil in that way. Scripture teaches that the devil is not the primary thing you need to be concerned with, however the devil is wrapped up in almost everything wrong with you and the world.

The Bible says the devil has a foothold in our lives through sin. Satan and your sin are bound up together. Therefore, the way to deal with the devil is to deal with your sin. 

There is always more to your sin and your problems than meets the eye. Paul says, “We battle not only with flesh and blood but with powers and principalities” (Eph 6). There is always a demonological dimension to our problems. However, the primary way you deal with the devil is not through exorcisms, prayer rituals or formulas, but by getting rid of his footholds. 

Scripture says, deal with your pride, anxiety and resentment and that’s how you resist the devil.

Peter says in order to hold onto your hope and resist the forces of darkness in your life you must clothe yourself with humility (v.5) and cast all your cares onto God (v.7). In other words pride and anxiety make us vulnerable to the enemy. 

First of all, pride. Peter says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (v.5). Peter is defining pride as resistance to the grace of God. Pride, by its nature, is anti-grace. Pride thinks it is above the grace of God and therefore grace can not flow to the proud because pride blocks it.

The antidote is to clothe yourself with humility. Clothing yourself means you actively put it on. You don’t just wait around and say, “Man, I just hope I’ll be a good enough Christian that I’ll become humble someday.” You regularly remind yourself of the grace of Christ and act in accordance with it. 

A truly humble person is so satisfied with the grace of Christ and their identity in Christ that they are not thinking about themselves. They are not always so wrapped up in their own worries or their own problems and therefore they are free to think of others. To love others and serve others. Not looking for anything in return.

Clothe yourself with humility. It’s a daily discipline.

Secondly Peter says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (v.7). Anxiety is a refusal to see how much God loves and cares for you. Worry always stems from an overconfidence in your own opinion. You think you know how things in your life should be going. Therefore it is impossible for you to trust God when things aren’t turning out the way you think they should. 

That’s the reason why, the antidote to anxiety, is also humility. You learn to say, “God, I don’t know why this is happening, but I know you care for me and I know you are working all things together for good.” You learn to humble yourself under his mighty hand.

Hope is a battle and there is an adversary prowling around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him; resist fear and pride and resentment; resist his footholds; and he will flee from you. (James 4:7).