A resistance movement is a group or collection of individual groups, dedicated to fighting an invader in an occupied country or the government of a sovereign nation through either the use of physical force, or nonviolence. During WWII, there were resistance movements in France, Serbia, Italy, and other countries. The resistance movement has been popularized in the most recent Star Wars movies.
As the apostle Peter closes his first letter (1 Peter 5:5-14), he encourages his readers to join the resistance. He encourages us to resist pride and to resist the enemy. We resist pride by placing ourselves under God’s authority. We resist the enemy by standing firm our faith. When we place ourselves under God’s caring authority, we can stand firm against the enemy.
Resist pride by placing yourself under God’s caring authority (5-7). Peter begins verse five with the word, “likewise.” In doing so, he links his current instruction with his previous one. In verses 1-4, he focused on church leaders. Now, he is focusing on church members. Just as elders submit to the Chief Shepherd, Jesus, so church members should submit to their leaders.
Just in case we think we are exempt from this command, Peter instructs all people to clothe themselves with the garments of humility. There’s a good chance he is thinking of when Christ put on the apron of a servant and washed the feet of the disciples. Peter strongly believes that humility is an essential part of one’s wardrobe.
By putting on humility, we resist our natural tendency towards pride. Peter quotes from the psalms when he says that God stands against the proud but take delight in the humble. By acting with humility, we place ourselves under the authority of our leaders and especially under God’s authority. And we wait for him to promote us.
Another way we demonstrate humility is by giving our cares and concerns to God. When Peter says, “casting all our cares on him,” we tend to think of a fisherman. We cast our cares, and if we don’t catch what we want, we reel it back in. However, when Peter says, “casting,” he means “to abandon.” We give our cares to God and leave them there, knowing that he is a caring God.
Hudson Taylor said, “Let us give up our work, our plans, ourselves, our lives, our loved ones, our influence, our all, right into [God’s] hand; and then, when we have given all over to Him, there will be nothing left for us to be troubled about.”
Resist the enemy by standing firm in your faith (8-11). When it comes to Satan, we tend to go to one of two extremes. We either laugh about him or we ignore him completely. We are either overly concerned and consumed or we deny his existence and power. In contrast, Peter wants us to be alert and aware.
Peter uses several key words to help us recognize our enemy for who he is. “Your” means he is a personal enemy. “Adversary” reminds us he is our opponent. “Devil” is a word that means “slanderer,” who is one of his chief strategies. “Prowls around” tells us that he is seeking prey. “Roaring lion” warns us that he is ravenously hungry. “Devour” tells us that he is focused on our complete annihilation.
We are to resist the devil by standing firm our faith. This speaks of our confidence in God and his word. It points out the need for a solid foundation of sound doctrine.
When suffering comes, we tend to feel isolated and alone. However, Peter explains that believers all over the world and going through the same trials. He also points out that suffering is brief, but glory is eternal. Peter also encourages us that the God who called us will give us strength. He will restore—mending and repairing; confirm—making solid; strengthen—fill with strength; and establish—set on a firm foundation. Since nothing is wasted in God’s will, he will use our suffering to help grow and shape our character.
Peter closes this section with a doxology of praise. The one who planned and promised is the one who has the power to make it happen.
Stand firm in the grace of God (12-14). Peter ends his letter with the encouragement to stand firm in the grace of God. He explains the letter had a two-fold purpose—to encourage and to tell of God’s grace.
Join the Resistance. Resist pride. Resist the enemy. When we place ourselves under God’s caring authority, we can stand firm against the enemy.
This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on August 26, 2018. It is the final message in a series of sermons on 1 Peter. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.