8 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. 10 After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. 11 To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Peter talked earlier about being sober in spirit. Here he gives a little more reason why we need to be. We cannot give the devil a foothold. Like a century posted in a guard shack in the middle of the desert at 3am, we must be always vigilant, always on high alert, always ready for attack. Additionally, we must also know what to do once the enemy attacks. I worded that specifically to indicate that yes, we will be attacked, we just don’t always know when.
Sometimes we know exactly how, where, and when the enemy will attack. In Iraq, we used to avoid the shortest route to cross Anbar Province because it was a hotbed for ambushes and IEDs. Of course, it took us hours to get where we needed to go instead of 30 minutes, but it was worth the extra time because lives were at stake. This is the same type of vigilance and preparation we must take in dealing with our spiritual enemy. In relation to my military experience, I love what Peter says in verse 9, regarding others that are in the same battle. When I went through boot camp, the biggest thought that helped me “survive” sometimes was, “I’m not the first one going through this and hundreds of others are going through this very thing right now and we are surviving together.” One of the biggest weapons the devil uses against us is the thought of loneliness. Not only are we united in spirit with other believers, but Jesus told the disciples before He ascended, “16 I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; 17 that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” The Spirit of Truth (ie the Holy Spirit) is with us always. This is what the devil tries to convince us against, that we are all alone and we might as well give in and lose hope.
Sure, we are going to go through trials of many kinds. Peter, writing to the Christians scattered all over the world, is encouraging us that even when it seems like we are alone and beaten down, don’t lose faith because we are all suffering together. When one part of the body suffers, the whole body feels it and works to repair that part. Paul maintained this kind of faith throughout all his physical loneliness. But he clung to the hope that is in Christ Jesus knowing that there were others suffering with him and praying for him. Why did he maintain that hope? Because he knew that God would do for him what He will do for you: perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.
Peter’s signoff can be easily swept aside by thinking it is a normal thing to say. However, knowing Peter by studying the bible, I think this statement is a bit more profound than what we usually see it as. Peter isn’t talking about “God is Lord over all,” rather He is talking about how he wishes for God’s dominion over our hearts. This is where the Kingdom of God resides; it is the reign of God in our hearts. We generally think of the Kingdom of God as heaven, but a kingdom is where a king reigns, isn’t it? A kingdom is the scope of influence and power that God has. While He is able to exercise His power wherever and whenever He wants, the point here is the Peter desires for us all to turn over our hearts for Him to reign in them. It is through this that He is able to perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. If we don’t, well then we are giving dominion to the enemy over our hearts. Remember, the devil doesn’t need or want us to believe in Him, he only desires that we don’t believe in God and give Him dominion over our lives.