“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8
Our enemy, Satan, has two powerful allies—the world and the flesh. These three work in partnership to obstruct our spiritual growth and effectiveness. They’re most successful when we aren’t thinking clearly or being watchful. But we need to know what we’re looking for in order to be on guard. So how do we stay alert to the enemy and his allies?
First, recognize how the world thinks. When Scripture uses the word world, it’s often referring to the anti-God system led by Satan. “We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). That’s why things that make sense to the world seem foreign to us and vice versa.
Believers are to think and live differently. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). There’s a lot of pressure these days for cultural conformity. This clash between worldly and biblical thinking isn’t new. Jesus said, “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you…but because you are not of the world…the world hates you” (John 15:18–19).
We also need to recognize how our flesh thinks. We’re all born with a sin nature. This old rebellious nature conflicts with our new nature, which is why we experience spiritual warfare (Romans 7:14-20). When a committed believer is tempted, it’s usually subtle. The enemy appeals to our old way of thinking, such as holding on to anger (Ephesians 4:25–27), bitterness, jealousy, or pride (James 3:13–16). And whatever sin we tolerate he can use to manipulate.
As believers, we can live in the power of Christ by removing worldly and fleshly thoughts, “clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh” (Romans 13:14 NIV). And by yielding our thoughts to the Holy Spirit. “But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16).
Has your thinking been influenced by the world or by your old nature? Be careful—how you think determines how you live. While we need to be alert to the enemy and his allies, we don’t need to be afraid. Our Lord has already won the war! Meeting with Jesus daily in His Word and in prayer helps us to think clearly and remain watchful until we meet Him face-to-face.