Dealing with the Devil - Bible Study

by Tom Bulick and Stephanie Thomas on

Bible Studies 1 document
1 Peter 5:8–11

  • Dealing with the Devil | The Scrolls | June 9, 2024

    Copyright Central Bible Church

The Scrolls is a weekly Bible study written by pastors and other leaders at Central Bible Church, based on that week’s sermon topic. Use The Scrolls as a personal Bible study tool, for family devotions, and for small group discussions. You can read part of it below. The downloadable PDF also includes discussion questions, more in-depth commentary, end notes, and a kids’ page designed for families to study the topic together. This lesson goes with the sermon "Dealing with the Devil."

If you remember the cop show Hill Street Blues, you no doubt remember the prescient advice that Sgt. Esterhaus (played by Michael Conrad, who died three years into the show’s run) would give at the end of every roll call: “Let’s be careful out there.” The apostle Peter gives similar advice to his readers near the end of his first letter: “Be careful—watch out for attacks from Satan, your great enemy. He prowls around like a hungry, roaring lion, looking for some victim to tear apart” (TLB)—words reminiscent of Ps 22:13.

Satan was certainly prowling around on the night Jesus appeared before Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin, following his arrest, during which time Peter denied Jesus “thrice” (Mk 14:30 KJV)—something he vehemently denied he would ever do (Mt 26:33; Mk 14:29). “This very night you will all fall away on account of me,” Jesus told his disciples (Mt 26:31), but Peter declared, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will . . . Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you” (vv. 33, 35). But on that night, Satan tore Peter apart (see Mt 26:69-75; Mk 14:66-72; Lk 22:54-62; Jn 18:15-18, 25-27). Peter saw no roaring lion that night, only an unassuming servant girl.

On Peter’s famous failure, one author writes: “The denial portrays Peter in a very bad light. He is a coward and a liar. No serious attempt is made to provide an excuse for him. If the Gospel writers had wanted to defend Peter, they could have highlighted the fact that only he and another disciple (Jn 18:15) followed Jesus when he was arrested. Whereas the other disciples simply fled [apparently, Satan devoured them all!], Peter was brave enough to follow Jesus even into the courtyard of the high priest. Emphasis could have been made on the darkness, the confusion, the helplessness and so on. But nothing like this is done in the Gospels. Peter is simply described as having been intimidated by the situation and denying Jesus. He even began to curse and swear an oath (Mk 14:71).

“The Gospel writers conclude this story by stating that ‘the cock crowed’ and that upon hearing this Peter broke down and wept. Luke adds that at this precise moment Jesus turned and looked at Peter, although he does not tell us how that was possible (Lk 22:61). For Peter, there would be forgiveness and restoration (Mk 16:7). He would go on to lead the church during its infant years, and tradition tells us that when given the opportunity once again, he made the great confession with his own life as a martyr in Rome” (Robert H. Stein, Jesus the Messiah, 229-30). 

Peter’s experience comes as both bad news and good news to other disciples of Christ. The bad news is this: we are all liable to fall. We all run the risk of being attacked by Satan like Peter was. After all, if Satan pounced on Peter, as well as the other disciples, he could certainly pounce on any one of us. The good news is this: Peter was forgiven and restored. Peter’s letter comes as even better news. Christ’s disciples can avoid spiritual failure by guarding against his attack. Eugene Peterson paraphrases Peter’s advice in 5:8-9 this way: “Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does.” Believers can frustrate the attacks of the devil.          

Central Message of the Text: 

Be self-controlled and alert to resist the devil, standing firm in the faith, knowing that your gracious God will sustain and ultimately vindicate you.

Family Talk:

There’s a picture in my office from a summer long ago of my three youngest kids at a neighborhood pool. Every time I look at it, I’m transported to a time of sticky fingers and chubby belly rolls and sun-kissed faces. Somehow my toddler daughter is missing one of her pink flip flops and that always makes me laugh. I can smell the tropical sunscreen and hear water splashing and squeals of delight. I’d bet money that Goldfish crackers and fruit snacks were spread over a collection of beach towels and Mom was solving all the problems of the world—naptime and potty training and how much TV is too much. All the while, there is a constant inventory of the neighborhood kids. Our heads are on a swivel and we’re vigilantly checking to make sure our littles are accounted for. City pools are fun, but we know in an instant a child can disappear into a dangerous parking lot or unattended bathroom, not to mention the hazards of being around water. We are alert and sober-minded. As my kids have gotten older, I’d like to say the vigilance has relaxed, but in fact, the danger has increased and I’m even more aware. I’m no longer only aware of their location, but I’m noticing who they’re with and what they’re doing and watching and experiencing. There’s a tension my husband like to call “catch and release.” As our kids have aged, we’ve let the line out a bit but remain ever vigilant. We know there’s an enemy but firmly trust God and remain steadfast in prayer. Parents, stay alert and firm in the faith!