For the past several days, our area (Upper Cumberland region – Cookeville, TN) has been abuzz from the sighting of at least one, and maybe more, black bear(s). Normally, these animals live farther east in the Smoky Mountains and higher elevations of our state. Apparently, they have migrated down from the mountains and are now being spotted in the city and rural areas of our region. Someone, with image altering software and expertise, has hilariously superimposed the bear in other iconic regions of our area. My favorite is the bear joining in the celebration pile as the TTU Golden Eagles baseball team reacts to a victory over Ole Miss. Others are posting actual video and pictures of the creature on all forms of social media. Authorities are warning the public to not get too close or engage in other behaviors that might frighten the bear(s) and cause it/them to attack.
This article is not about bears. It is about a far more dangerous threat that is loose in our community and has the potential to destroy anyone whom it crosses. Peter described the enemy this way in 1 Peter 5:8: “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” A roaring lion, now that should get your attention. Imagine living next to a zoo and hearing a report concerning a lion on the loose…would be scared? I would! I do not believe I would rest peacefully in an African hut knowing the king of the jungle was on the outskirts of the village.
Peter makes clear our adversary or enemy is the devil, the one who slanders and deceives and stands opposed to all God has ordained. It started with our parents Adam and Eve, and he continues to tempt each person on the planet. His desire is not innocuous, as Peter notes he desires to devour or swallow down and destroy us completely. Sadly, some do not think sin to be a big problem for them and suppose it has no negative eternal consequences. Scripture plainly declares otherwise: “For the wages of sin is death,” Paul declared in Romans 6:23.
Unfortunately, we live in a time when our enemy may be hiding in plain sight. In the wild, a lion must creep, sneak, and wait for just the right moment to pounce on the unsuspecting prey. Certainly, there are times and situations when the devil will mount his attack to do the most damage to us. Even after Jesus rejected the severe temptations that Satan solicited him within Matthew 4, we read this important detail supplied in Luke 4:13: “when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.” The devil continued to tempt the Lord at various times and in various ways we are not privy to knowing or reading about in the Holy Scriptures. Today, the devil has succeeded at desensitizing the minds of the masses to the point they do not even recognize sin or solicitations to transgress the Law of God like previous generations might have. Our time is not unique in this way, as Jeremiah 4:16 described the tenor of the people of God prior to their destruction in a way which sounds eerily similar to our own day: “Were they ashamed when they committed abomination? No, they were not at all ashamed; they did not know how to blush.” No behavior or belief or practice is considered shameful anymore. Why? There is no way to pinpoint only one causative factor, but here are just a few of my observations.
Media such as TV, movies, internet, and social platforms (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), have presented “alternative” lifestyles/behaviors as normative for so long that many think they are just that – normal. When you couple this with a decrease in exposure to God’s Word and the principles contained therein, it is easy to predict the sad result. Ignorance of the Bible allows the roaring lion to capture and destroy many without their awareness. Prosperity and wealth have created a culture where God is supposedly not needed because of the abundance of financial resources. Overworked and overscheduled people refuse to make time for God and instead spend whatever leisure periods they are allotted on selfish purposes.
Yes, there is a roaring lion in our area and all throughout our world and he is gobbling up people daily. Are you watching for him? We must resist him, and with Christ, we can defeat him!