2019 02 17 pm Preparation for Temptation 1 Peter 5:8-10

Congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ,

What words would you use to describe the Apostle Paul?  Would one of them be murderer?  I know that we cannot say for sure that he murdered anyone himself, but we are told that he approved of the stoning to death of Stephen and that Paul “ravaged the church,” dragging off men and women and committing them to prison.  It is why he calls himself a “persecutor” of the church, and also why, after his conversion, he speaks about being “the worst of sinners” and God’s amazing grace to him.


But of course, Paul has some stiff competition in the Bible for “worst of sinners.”  And I am not talking here about unbelievers but believers!  We know for sure, for example, that King David and Moses were murderers.   And King David was also an adulterer.

  • Abraham and Jacob were serial liars.
  • Rebekah was a deceitful and scheming wife.
  • Aaron and Miriam were jealous of Moses’ leadership position.
  • Rahab had been a prostitute.
  • Gideon put the Lord to the test, several times.
  • Samson visited a prostitute and married a Philistine.
  • Eli failed to discipline his sons who were corrupt priests.
  • Elijah abandoned his calling and wanted to die.
  • Jonah refused to obey God and got angry with God when God did not do what Jonah wanted Him to do.
  • And Peter denied Jesus, three times.


Have you ever thought to yourself, I would never commit this or that sin?  Well, this list of believers and their sins warns us against that sort of thinking and is a reminder of the power of temptation.  And another reminder of the power of temptation is the fact that the Lord Jesus taught us to pray: “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.”  And we are to pray this request because we are very weak and sinful.  But as we shall see, there is also real hope in the struggle against temptation through Christ our Lord.  And we see all this in the passage before us today.


Peter’s letter was written to believers who were suffering because of persecution.  And with suffering comes various temptations – despair, hatred, unbelief, jealousy, anxiety, and hopelessness, etc.  So Peter speaks to the elders from v1, then to young men in v5, but in the middle of v5 he begins speaking to all believers, as he says, “All of you…”   And his instruction to all believers begins with a call to humility and then a call to trust in the Lord in v7.  And then we come to vv8-11 where the Apostle prepares the Believer’s Mind for temptation.


Now, before we consider how Peter does this, I want to make a brief comment about the believer’s mind.  You see, the assumption in this sermon theme is that the believer’s mind is an essential part in the struggle against temptation.  But one author has said that the incredible “potential of the believer’s mind introduces the great scandal of today’s church: Christians without Christian minds.  Christians who do not think Christianly.”  Another author calls this “religious anorexia, a loss of appetite for growth in Christ.”  In short, fewer professing Christians today are readers and studiers.  And this is a problem because Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”  If we are to be less like the world, we must study and learn.  So the chief weapon in the believer’s arsenal against temptation is a biblically informed mind.


So let’s look now at how the Apostle prepares the believer’s mind for temptation.  And we will do that as we consider the three-part command in vv8-9 and the four-part promise in v10.


  1. So we begin with the Three-part Command in vv8-9. There are three imperatives or doing commands in vv8-9: “Be sober-minded,” “be watchful,” and in v9, “resist him.”  And each of these three commands surround the reminder that is said about the devil.  So the devil is a very real being.  And what’s more, he is our ‘adversary!’  The word literally means opposing lawyer.  It is as though we are the defendant and he is the prosecution lawyer.  And Peter then adds to this imagery by that the devil “prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour.”  I am sure you boys and girls have seen African wildlife documentaries where lions prowl around hunting wildebeest or antelope or zebra.  Well, that’s what the devil is like.  He ‘hunts’ you.  And note also from v8 that he is “your”  He has a particular strategy designed to devour you.  So, because the devil is like this, we are to be:


  1. sober-minded.”
    1. The word ‘sober’ is usually used in connection with drunkenness. I hope you have escaped drunkenness yourself but I am sure you have seen a drunk person.  They are so influenced by alcohol that they stagger around and fall down and you could slip the wallet right out of their pocket/handbag without them being able to do anything about it.  Their minds are foggy; they are not alert to danger.  But we are not talking here just about drunkenness.  A person can be sober (not drunk) but still not have a sober mind.  Back in ch. 1:13, Peter said, “Therefore, prepare your minds for action and be sober-minded.” same word.  1 Peter 4:7 says, “Therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.”  Again, same word.  What is in view here is a biblically informed mind that understands the devil and temptation and the power of the Holy Spirit, so the person is alert and ready and prepared for temptation.
      1. And let me just say here that temptation, in and of itself, is not sin. To be tempted, which is to think about or see something sinful, or to hear that first suggestion that you could do something that is wrong, is not sin.  James 1:14-15 says, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.  Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin.”  Temptation becomes sin when the thought or glance lingers, or you fan the flames of possibility, or you refuse to look away or to run away.  Hebrews 4:15 tells us that Jesus was tempted in every way, even as we are, yet He did not sin.  So He felt temptation but He never dwelt on it or gave into it.
      2. But let’s consider a biblical example of someone who was not sober-minded. And our example is King David and how he sinned with Bethsheba.
        • We know that David had many wives and concubines. So already this tells us that in the area of sexual desire, what David wanted, David got.  And this is called desensitization – you become so used to something that it doesn’t really bother you anymore.  And David was desensitized in the area of sexual sin.  And of course, in our pornography and sex on screen saturated society, this is a huge problem for many of us – we are desensitized to sexual sin.
        • But adding to David’s problems was relaxation. We read in the Bible that David should have been away at war with his army.  But he had chosen to stay at home and chill.  And it is often the same for, isn’t it; many temptations don’t trouble us while we are busy working.  It is when we are on a break or alone in the bedroom that temptations arise.  Right?
        • Well, noticing Bathsheba bathing may have been unavoidable for David. You can’t always help what you see.  But even then, David had a choice.  He could have been like Job who made a covenant with his eyes not to stare at anything he ought not to see and instead to quickly look away.  Some people call this having bouncy eyes.  Have you heard that expression?  Men – very sight oriented – adverts/shop windows/what women are wearing or not wearing.  You must choose to quickly look away.  But David did not choose to look away; he fixed his eyes on Bethsheba.  So David’s problems were now desensitization, relaxation, and fixation.
        • And then the rationalization He was king after all.  And her husband, Uriah?  Well, he was a Hittite – not Jewish.  And he was away at war.  And maybe David’s first thought was just to talk to Bethsheba.  No harm in that.  But soon he was imagining…
        • And in all this, David was not sober-minded. He was led by his feelings.  And so, temptation gave way to desire, which then gave way to sin.  And that’s how it goes, isn’t it people of God?  I am sure you can remember many instances of that same slide from temptation into sin in your own life.
      3. But we also read earlier about Joseph. Joseph was sober-minded.
        • There stood Potiphar’s wife offering sexual pleasure. No one would have known.  But Joseph quickly filled his mind with God and His commands.  He forced himself to view what she was offering as sin.  He chose to let the offense to God trump any fleshly desires.  He forced himself to remember the kindness that Potiphar had shown him.  He said to himself, “I must not do this; it would be wrong.”  So he refused her advances; he refused to give in; he was sober-minded.
      4. So knowing that there is a devil who has a strategy to devour you, be sober-minded. And what we are talking about here has a lot to do with prevention.  You must continuously fill your mind with what Christ has done for you, with the holiness of God, with the offensiveness of sin, and with what the Bible says about the devil and temptation, so that when temptation comes, this is what fills your mind.


  1. But not only must you be sober-minded, you must also “be watchful.”
    1. If we return to our African wildlife documentary image from a few moments ago, how do antelope drink from the river? Have you seen this, boys and girls?  Their heads keep popping up and their eyes scan around and their ears are twitching to keep a watch out for prowling lions.  For them, watchfulness is a matter of life and death!
    2. Well, if you know that the devil is a real being and that he is your adversary and that he is prowling around seeking to devour you, you better be watchful.
    3. And what this means for you is applying yourself to what are called the means of grace. The way that the Lord Jesus equips His people to watch out for the devil is by His word and Spirit.  Reading and preaching of the word in public worship.  Private Bible reading.  Bible study.    The diligent use of the sacraments – preparation for Lord’s Supper, remembering your baptism.  And all of this is why church membership is so important, so that we have elders to whom we are accountable.


  1. So, be sober-minded, be watchful, and thirdly, “resist him,” meaning the devil.
    1. The Greek word translated as resist means ‘to oppose someone, involving not only a psychological attitude but also a corresponding behaviour.’ It is ‘to be hostile toward, or ‘to turn one’s back on.’
      1. Think again about our African wildlife documentary image – when the lion attacks, what do the antelope do? They run away!  And if they are caught, they fight to defend and free themselves with everything they have.  I am sure you have seen Youtube videos of famous escapes?
      2. Well, unlike the antelope that must resist by itself, you cannot resist the devil by yourself. To be sure, you must flee from temptation – move to another room if your temper is rising, turn off the wifi, stop reading those magazines, etc.  And we have the promise in 1 Cor. 10:13 that God never lets us be tempted beyond our ability, “but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”  So you must look for and take the way of escape.  But the Lord Jesus gave us this prayer request to keep our focus on our need for our Creator more than to move us to act in a certain way.  Look how v9 continues, “resist [the devil], standing firm in the faith.”  The Greek word translated as ‘firm’ here is stereos.  And that word has come into English as stereo.  Stereo basically means balanced; a left and right track combine with equal volume to produce a stereo sound or a balanced sound.  So the picture here is of a Christian who is ready to resist the devil because he or she is balanced in Christ.  If you look within yourself for power to resist sin, you will fail; you must look to God.  By continually asking God to deliver you from evil, you become more aware of the need to look for escape in the moment of temptation.


  1. So, be sober-minded – be guided by God’s word, not by feelings, be watchful – make use of the means of grace, and resist the devil – pray this request regularly, look to Christ and His power, and seek the way of escape that God always provides. But secondly, let’s look now at the beautiful Four-part Promise of v10.  “After you have suffered for a while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”


  1. Congregation, you will suffer for Christ. The Bible is very plain that all who follow Christ are to take up their cross and follow Him.  And you will be tempted to sin.  So that is why your focus is pointed toward “the God of grace.”
  1. Oh people of God, don’t ever tire of that word grace. Don’t ever take the grace of God in Jesus Christ for granted.  What we sinners need above everything else is grace; undeserved favour, unearned kindness, unmerited love.  And to all who confess their sins and resolve to flee from sin, God is gracious.  He does not treat us as our sins deserve because He punished our sins in His Son.
  2. And that is why He promises here to restore
    1. The Greek word means ‘to make someone completely adequate or sufficient for something, to cause to be fully qualified, to mend, to repair, to equip, to make you what you ought to be, to make stable, to renew after a time of trouble.’
    2. Perhaps you know someone who went to hospital after an accident. They went in as a broken and bruised human being but they came after surgery and treatment completely restored, as good as new.  Well there you have a beautiful image of what God does with broken sinners; He restores them.  My friends, you may be in a total mess because of your sin and guilt.  You may feel dirty and stained.  You may feel unable to resist certain temptations.  But God says, If you come to me and confess your sin, I will restore you.  And one day, after this life, you will be perfectly restored and no longer even able to sin!
  3. But God also promises to confirm
    1. The Greek word here means ‘to cause someone to become stronger in the sense of more firm and unchanging in attitude or belief.’
    2. Believer, God wants you to have the assurance that you are a forgiven sinner and a child of God. I won’t do this right now, but if I were to ask you or any group of believers to rate how strongly you have this assurance, with 0 being no assurance and 10 being strong assurance, there would be some 10s, some 9s, etc, and some 1s and some 0s.  And often times this is because of our awareness of our sin and guilt.  Well, God is a God of grace who does not treat us as our sins deserve.  He wants us to be a 10!  But we are 10s only when we look not at ourselves but at Christ!  It is when we look at Jesus that we can say, I am a child of God.  Jesus died for my sins.  I have the Holy Spirit living within me.  And His power is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead!  That is what being confirmed means  growing in the assurance of salvation y looking at Christ!
  4. But God also promises to strengthen
    1. This Greek word means ‘to cause someone to be or to become more able or capable, with the implication of a contrast with weakness making persons more able to engage in or to undergo certain experiences.’
    2. And this word is closely related to what we said about being confirmed. The more we look to Christ and His Word and Spirit, the stronger we become.  Galatians 2:20 says, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.  The life I live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
    3. Our world calls many sins addictions/sicknesses. They tell us that we cannot help it; that we are genetically wired to do this, and that we will always be this or that.  But God offers us real hope because Christ is powerful and His Spirit truly changes us.  1 Corinthians 6:9-11 says, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”  But listen to these next words: “And such were some of you.  But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”  God promises to strengthen us!
  5. And finally, God promises also to establish
    1. And this Greek word comes from the world of construction. It means ‘to lay or construct a foundation, to establish or make stable.’
    2. In Ephesians 4 there is a very beautiful image of the ‘established Christian’ or the mature Christian. We are told, Then “we will no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.”   When waves at the beach hit small children, they are easily tossed about, but when they hit mature adults, they stand firm.  Well, the mature Christian is one who has attained unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, through the reading and preaching of the Word.  This believer is not easily thrown or tossed about by temptation.

At the beginning of this sermon I said that the chief weapon in the believer’s arsenal against temptation is a biblically informed mind.  If you are sober-minded, watchful, and determined to resist the devil, which means that you are filling your mind with Christ by His word and Spirit, then God will restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you.  That is His promise, believer.  So pray, regularly, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”  Amen.