I have recently realized that I have misread and misunderstood 1 Peter 5:8 for my entire Christian life.
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” — 1 Peter 5:8
I have always taken this verse to say that Satan is a lion — a powerful lion, one that I need to run and hide from, who makes me stand frozen in petrified fear. Peter had seen the work of Satan firsthand. Jesus even called Peter “Satan” when he rebuked Jesus for saying He would have to suffer (Matthew 16:23).
But Peter also saw something greater than the works of Satan. Peter saw and experienced firsthand the works and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Peter saw that Jesus is greater than Satan and realized that Satan can do nothing more than try to mimic the work of God. And even when he tries, he falls short.
After Jesus spent 40 days fasting and praying in the desert, the father of lies tried to tempt and test Jesus when He was at His weakest point. The temptations Satan threw at Jesus show the desperate tactics Satan engaged as he spoke with the Son of God:
- “If You are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” — Luke 4:3
- “And he said to Him, “I will give You all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If You worship me, it will all be Yours.” — Luke 4:6-7
- “The devil led Him to Jerusalem and had Him stand on the highest point of the temple. ‘If You are the Son of God,’ he said, ‘throw Yourself down from here. For it is written: “He will command His angels concerning You to guard You carefully; they will lift You up in their hands, so that You will not strike Your foot against a stone.”’” — Luke 4:9-11
In each of these temptations, Satan tried to “play” God. But Jesus was keen to Satan’s scheme. He knew exactly what Satan was trying to do and resisted each temptation by relying on Scripture. Satan may have influence in this world, but he does not have dominion over it.
Scripture tells us that Satan is “like” a lion, while Jesus is the true Lion of the tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5). The Lion of Judah is an ancient symbol that represents of the 12 tribes of God’s people from the Old Testament. Each tribe had a different function, and the tribe of Judah is where kings would come from.
Jesus is the true Lion that is King over all of creation. He was never created but is from the Father. Satan was created by God and must submit to the authority of the true King — Jesus Christ. Although it is true that Satan is able to wreak havoc in the lives of God’s people, he is nothing but the great intimidator that one day will be destroyed by Jesus.
Satan may be roaring loudly in your ear, but all he can do is tell lies. “For there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). You do not have to cower in fear of his lies, because in Jesus, “You know the truth and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).
— Reza Zadeh, Denver Broncos chaplain
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