“Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith…” 1 Peter 5:8, 9
There are very few sounds as frightening as the scream of horses, and mine were screaming and running for their lives. I could feel the rumble in my body and they thundered across the pasture. Accelerating, they hurled themselves into a thick pole fence. I looked back in the direction they’d just come from and scanned the canyon rim. A tawny blur flashed across the edge of my peripheral vision as fear crawled up the back of my neck. Something was there… hunting, stalking.
Living in wild country has its challenges; encountering predators is one of them. Concerned for unsuspecting rock climbers, I called the sheriff’s office to report a cougar in the vicinity. A few days later, a pamphlet from the Dept. of Fish and Game arrived in the mail—a tutorial explaining the rules of engagement in the event of a mountain lion encounter.
The pamphlet warned that a person must be alert and careful to avoid an encounter with a cougar. However, if someone does find themselves face to face with a lion, there are things they must do and things they must not do…. if they want to survive.
How interesting that the image of an apex predator (a prowling, stalking, lion) is used in the Bible to describe the devil and his intentions toward us. We know evil is out there—we see the destruction, the broken lives, the sorrow… all evidence of the devil’s handiwork but, like the unwary hiker who unexpectedly encounters a lion, we, too can get caught off guard and find ourselves face to face with evil when we least expect it. After all, we live in lion territory…
- BE ALERT
It’s uncommon for someone to see a cougar in the wild but, make no mistake… if you’re in lion country, a lion’s out there. A master hunter, it knows how to be still, bide its time, and watch.
Like the cougar, the devil lies in wait, too; watching… following. Is he determining who is weakest among us and taking note of who’s been separated from the group, making the easiest prey? Probably. That’s what lions do. They’re opportunists. The devil is no different. He’ll attack if he can get away with it. So, “Be sober, be watchful.”1 Peter 5:8
- DO NOT RUN
The pamphlet explains that if you do see a cougar, you must never, ever turn and run. Why? Because running triggers the big cats instinct to chase. When the chase begins, accidental encounter becomes predator hunting prey. Scary as it seems, your chances of survival increase if you face the lion and stand your ground.
When the devil’s doing the stalking, the rules of engagement are exactly the same. The Bible tells us to flee evil but, resist the evil one. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” James 4:7
- MAKE EYE CONTACT
A cougar’s preferred method of attack is to ambush from behind. It’s patient and waits until its prey is preoccupied and unaware of its presence. Likewise, the devil is a master ambusher, attacking when our guard is down. According to the pamphlet, making eye contact with a cougar shows the lion that you are fearless. That’s dominance. How do you apply that spiritually? Take a good hard look at what is going on in your life. If all hell is breaking loose, chances are the devil’s involved. Stand firm against him. “…for we are not ignorant of Satan’s designs.” 2 Corinthians 2:11
- PICK UP ANY CHILDREN WHO ARE WITH YOU
When you’re out in wild country and you know there are predators around, you don’t let your children run off out of sight. As Christians, you don’t let new believers get too far out by themselves, either. Living in lion country requires that you keep the less experienced close so they don’t become casualties of the hunt. Keep an eye on them because they’re especially vulnerable to attack. And when they do stumble and fall, pick them up and get them out of danger. “… encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.” Thessalonians 5:14
- MAKE YOURSELF APPEAR LARGER THAN YOU ARE
If a lion is sizing you up as potential prey, but discovers that you’re larger than it thought, that you’re aggressive and unafraid, it might not attack. Spiritually speaking, there is just one way to appear larger than you are, and that is to be in Christ Jesus. What does that mean? When the enemy of your soul is stalking, remind yourself (and the devil) who you are… adopted into the family of God, redeemed from sin, transferred from the jurisdiction of the devil to God’s Kingdom, and joint heirs with Christ. You are sons and daughters of The Most High God and the brothers and sisters of The King of Kings. You are so much more than the devil can handle! “…for I will contend with those who contend with you…” Jer. 49-25
Loud noise can scare away a wild animal. In cougar country you are advised to speak loudly, sing, and even shout so that the predator will move out of the way when he hears you coming. I wonder if that’s how the devil reacts when the mouths of God’s children are filled with praise. “Shout, and sing for joy…for great in your midst is The Holy One of Israel.” Isa. 12-6
- RAISE YOUR ARMS ABOVE YOUR HEAD
So you’ve done everything to keep the lions away yet, there you are, face to face with one. Now what? Raise your hands above your head. Really. It might feel like surrender but, to the lion, raising your arms above your head is a threatening gesture… an aggressive stance… a fearless attitude!
Likewise, when the devil crouches to attack, lift your arms. The only One you’re surrendering to is God. Raise your arms in praise to God and declare victory over the enemy! And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. Ex. 17:11
- PICK UP ANY WEAPON YOU CAN FIND
In spite of what you may have heard on some nature show onTV, predators are not our friends. They are unpredictable and a very real danger. Those who live in wild country know this. Even though you’ve followed all of the pamphlet’s advice, it is possible that you may still find yourself in a do or die situation. If you do, find a weapon. In cougar country, any weapon you can find might be a rock or a stick.
The Bible tells us that when David faced a giant, all he had was a rock. When Moses faced down an evil Pharaoh, he wielded a stick.
We have something far more powerful—a spiritual weapon. What is it? The Word of God. Make sure you’re carrying and are adept at using it. “And take …the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God.” Ephesians 6:17
- REMAIN STANDING… FIGHT FOR YOUR LIFE
Fish and Wildlife makes it clear: Never let a lion knock you down. Your chances of survival are slim-to-none if you’re on the ground. Always fight to remain standing and fight for your life, facing the attacker.
It’s no different with the devil. Whether he comes out of nowhere, or you’ve know he’s been stalking, if he knocks you down, it may be just a matter of time before you’re unable to get up again. So, fight for your life. And stand. “… that you may be able to withstand in the evil day and having done all, to stand.” Ephesians 6:13
The image of a prowling lion to describe the devil in relation to us is a loathsome and fearsome thing… the sobering reality of life on a fallen earth. Until Jesus returns, this remains Lion country. Yet, there’s no need to fear because Jesus defeated the evil one on the cross of Calvary, and then gave us the weapons to defeat the devil. Our safety is always and only in Christ.
Be watchful, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong.” 1 Cor. 16:13