In 1 Peter 5, Peter wrote to church leaders who loved God and loved the people they were called to serve. He appealed to them not as “lords” (like a king), but as “shepherds” (like Jesus).
Then Peter encouraged all of them—all the believers he was writing to—by telling them
- Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God.
- Then, God will lift you up “in due time.”
- Cast your anxiety on God, knowing He cares for you.
- Beware of and resist Satan.
Let’s look at those again.
1. Peter implored them to recognize God’s power of protection over them. The church leaders needed humility, but in a very practical way. They needed to recognize the strong protective power of God’s mighty hand, understanding that they couldn’t do this work in their own fleshly strength. Why? It’s explained in #4. They were under attack—satanic attack. Not from within their own hearts, as so many churches want to teach. But from outside. For them, many of their worst attackers were the religious Jewish leaders.
2. Then the promise that “God would lift [them] up in due time.” When the time was right, they would be called upon to lead—with God’s hand not only covering them, but holding them up.
3. Standing out like that, they could naturally become anxious, because they would then become even greater targets of Satan’s attacks. But they could be assured that God would care for them—even through suffering.
4. And so, the next part follows naturally, that they will, in the strength and power of God, be able to beware of and resist the roaring enemy.
If you were to look for an Old Testament example of these truths, you wouldn’t have to look far.
By typical standards, David the shepherd boy, like those pastors, seemed inadequate for battle. But he loved God and had come to recognize and humble himself under God’s mighty hand of protection as he cared for the sheep and rescued them from two enemies, a lion and a bear.
David’s brother accused him of pride. But was his own pride his real enemy? Certainly not in this story. The real enemy was outside himself.
Can you imagine if David had been a typical modern-day evangelical Christian? “Yes, you’re right. I am. I’m too proud. What was I thinking? How could I have thought I could do such a thing as take on a giant? I’m so full of sin. I need to stop looking at that giant and just look at the sin in my own heart.”
But David dismissed his elder brother with a straightforward question or two and went head on with the adversary—who mocked him for even daring to fight. But David showed no evidence of anxiety, because he knew that God’s enemies would not prevail.
David was confidently prepared for that moment. He knew God would deliver Goliath into his hand.
And after that came to pass, David was lifted up, established in the hearts of the people as one worthy to be followed. Even Jonathan—Saul’s heir—confessed his determination to follow David’s God-directed leadership from that point onward.
This passage in First Peter is one that applies to any real Christian who wants to truly serve God and follow Jesus Christ.
I have heard from quite a few people who truly care and who want to help in the fight against the darkness. That is so heartening.
These are the things to remember.
1. Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God. This isn’t simply about acknowledging that God is supremely sovereign and powerful. It is more about knowing the strong protection of His mighty hand. And not just knowing it intellectually, but knowing it experientially, in the depths of your being. Know that. When you know that, really know it, you’ll be ready for the next step.
2. Then you can take your anxiety and spread it before Him—because this is the very same word used of the disciples spreading the coats before Jesus when He was on the donkey going through Jerusalem. It’s the same word used when we’re told that we’ll cast our crowns at His feet. Cast those concerns, those distractions, at His feet as a form of worship.
And prepare for the next step. Because it’s coming.
3. As you take on the Enemy with a capital E, as you come against the powers of darkness in the lives of those who have been made into prisoner (in a cult, by parents, in a pseudo-marriage, in trafficking, or in any other way)—either by literal chains or more likely by the prison that has been made in the mind—you will see that our enemy is far beyond the struggles with sin in our own hearts. We must trust our hearts to Jesus and do battle against the enemy that is taking souls prisoner right under our noses.
When we are to be on guard against and resist Satan, certainly we watch out for his attacks against our own souls. But if our own souls is all we’re watching out for, then we will fail in the rescue needed of others.
People need rescuing. Out of cults and trafficking, and out of the spiritually abusive thinking that arises from that. Out of the power of those who have sold their souls to the devil (but oh, they look so nice in a suit) and out of the demonic hold they have gotten their claws into the victim’s mind.
4. In due time, you will be lifted up.
Of course this won’t mean being lifted up to arrogance. Obviously not, since you’ve just been told to keep yourself in a low place under God’s mighty hand. It means being lifted up because somebody is looking for a leader.
When Saul wouldn’t take the lead in the battle against evil, when no other soldier would take the lead, the Israelites were longing, starving for a leader. It was so natural for them to lift up David.
When there are leadership roles that the assigned leaders won’t take, then some of the rest of us might fill those spots by default. That is a sad thing, in a way, but it’s not a bad thing.
It’s time, friends.
It’s time for many who love Jesus and love others to step up and say, “Yes, I want to do this. I want to understand the dynamics of abuse and help others. I want to help even in the darkest realms of child sex trafficking survivors and ritual abuse survivors. I want to help.”
You don’t have to be stuck in the “I’m too proud and just need to keep humbling myself” mode. Don’t retreat from the battle because someone tells you you’re proud or you’re untrained or you’re unworthy.
Of course, if you’re proud, stop being proud. If you’re untrained, get trained. (It doesn’t have to be formal training in school.) But if you love Jesus and love others and hate evil, you can be confident you’re worthy.
Don’t retreat! God is calling an army. Perhaps you truly should be among them.
Don’t allow yourself to be shamed into thinking you can never make a difference. Instead be inspired by Peter’s appeal and David’s example.
“I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day
to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth,
that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel,
and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear.
For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand.”
Go here to download your free Guide, How to Enjoy the Bible Again (when you’re ready) After Spiritual Abuse (without feeling guilty or getting triggered out of your mind). You’ll receive access to both print and audio versions of the Guide (audio read by me). I’m praying it will be helpful.