4/28/2017 Continuing with the blog theme of Retractions and Edits that I introduced a few weeks ago, in this reexamination, I must confess it was a misapplication of passages, a sort of one passage vs. another and neither in their appropriate context.
(Original publication 11/17/2009) It’s not difficult to follow the patterns of my life by simply reading the blog posts that I write. Recently, with a few exceptions, the focus has been on spiritual warfare and the fact that we are embroiled in the middle of a battle that seeks daily to destroy us, to not only impede our walk with Christ, but an attempt, albeit futile, to severe our relationship. In those posts we’ve discussed how this war isn’t one of the flesh, but of the spirit, that we are equipped with the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-20), and that non-participators in this battle are quickly seized by the enemy. This is an accurate assessment of the war in which Christians are engaged.
The Bible doesn’t under-emphasize this war, but instead is full of references and analogies to describe just how powerful this struggle really is. Perhaps there is no better verse in the Bible that describes our enemy as well as I Peter 5:8 ESV, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” This description is so profound; a lion, massive and powerful, just like in the picture above, capable of literally ripping flesh from the bone and devouring it, just like Peter alludes. The text tells us to “be sober-minded; be watchful”, a call for us to be alert at all times with our defenses ready, that at the slightest movement or sound we are prepared for battle. Again, helpful. Sometimes it seems we underestimate the influence and power of our enemy, that old serpent the Devil. However the imagery of a lion helps put this in a proper perspective.
I’m sure we’ve all seen movies where the frantic, scared, and helpless person is trapped inside a house or cabin, while the adversary is outside looking for any possible entrance inside. This is the same principle with a lion, they stalk their prey, looking to exploit any weakness they can find and so it is with the devil, searching for a foothold into our lives in order to attack and destroy us. But this scene needs to be different; we’re not the scared helpless victim. Don’t let the devil paralyze you with his stalking, because that’s exactly what he wants to do. Again helpful. This analogy of a lion, particularly as it has its victim in his sights is appropriate. Instead of fearing, we are called to resist him, as our Lord did in His wilderness temptation.
No, instead Christians we need to turn the tables on our adversary because surprise, surprise, we’re lions too! Proverbs 28:1b says, “but the righteous are bold as a lion.” This certainly changes the game doesn’t it? Lions aren’t cowardly (despite what the Wizard of Oz might portray) they’re predatory, aggressive, and relentless in their pursuit. This should be our approach toward sin, don’t sit back defensively while it stalks you, attack it with the boldness of a lion! “ Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7 The analogy of believer’s as lions, capable of equally battling the Devil is not helpful and in fact may be harmful. I do not think that believers should seek to actively engage the Devil. However, we are called to resist him. How or in what way? In the strength of God, by the power of the Holy Spirit, wielding the Sword of the Spirit, God’s Word. We are to be ready, vigilant, sober-minded because our enemy prowls around like a lion, but we are indeed weak in our flesh and experience to think that we can resist him on our own.
There’s one additional point we need to look at in this fight and it’s critically essential. In our verse from Proverbs we are told that the righteous are bold as the lion. This righteousness isn’t something we develop or are taught, but it comes through Jesus Christ when we accept Him as Savior (Romans 6:18, II Corinthians 5:21, Philippians 3:9). He is the source of our boldness; He is the Lion of Judah (Revelation 5:5). As we learned yesterday in the post from Charles Spurgeon, we need to recognize that without Jesus, our weaknesses are exposed and will be exploited by the enemy. Alone we have no power to battle sin, but with Him leading the way we have sovereign power. As the enemy begins stepping up his assault on Christians of the world, it’s time that we stand up and fight back against sin with the boldness of the lion that we were made to be in Christ. Stand up, be bold, be aggressive, be fearless as the lion, for “if God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31b ESV This is a helpful, clarifying summary, if albeit unrelated to the subject of lion vs. lion. If the righteous are to be as bold as a lion, as Proverbs states, it should be in our willingness to proclaim the Gospel, confront sin in our own lives, and live holy lives in a wicked and adulterous generation.
*Featured image credit – Atif Saeed Fine Art Photography