Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. 1 Peter 5:8
In this place Peter shows to the Christians how the enemy goes about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour and as it was then, so it also happens now. We see that the devil even now walks around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. No doubt the hungering wolf is dying of hunger when he, like a roaring lion, travels those dry places seeking rest and finding none. Wherever and whenever he gets the scent of sheep, there he howls, when he cannot quite after his own desire get to tear and ravage the sheep. The wolf whelps have the same nature as the mother wolf, they ravage the sheep wherever and whenever they meet them. We know that the wolf whelps are born blind and as long as they are blind they nurse the teats of the female wolf; they cannot in that blindness yet ravage the lambs. But as soon as they begin to see, they begin to hunt the sheep, but as long as the shepherd protects the sheep, the wolf whelps can go hungry and can howl in their dens. But now that time has come of which Peter writes, that the enemy goes around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. And now the eneny begins to roar and shows his teeth, he tempts the Christians not only with the inward battle, but outwardly also he incites his crowd to go around. They are the wolf whelps, some bigger, some smaller, who have begun to go around in groups; for a lone wolf is afraid if the shepherd shouts in the forest, but when there are many in a group, they no longer fear people but come boldly upon them. Nevertheless the wolf whelps cannot do great harm to the sheep but when the larger wolves come, then they can certainly ravage the sheep, if that Good Shepherd does not protect them.
But Peter also writes to the Christians in the afore mentioned place, namely 1 Peter 5:8, and advises them in what way they must war against the devils; he says namely this, "be sober and watchful", for if a Christian is not sober and watching, then the enemy will come upon him as a roaring lion and will ravage his conscience and also take away his life. We know that sober is such, who does not taste liquor and we have now heard from the mouth of Peter, that a Christian must be sober; and therefore all drunkards are far from the Christianity. The watching of the Christians seems to be poor, if they do watch sometimes, so also sleep cones too. The Christians can certainly somewhat avoid those outward enemies but those hidden enemies, these Christians cannot so easily avoid, because they are often sleepy, especially the sleep forces then, when they must watch in the garden. The love of the world appears to be one evil and cunning devil to stealthily sneak upon them. And when they are on the way to the garden, a quarrel comes up between then, who of them appears to be the greatest. But Judas is not with them, he has gone completely into the group of the high priests, scribes and pharisees, with then he has agreed and no doubt they will give him the set amount, when he has now gone to urge them that they would soon come to take a hold of that disturber of the people, before His doctrine would get to spread, so that the last wildness would not be worse than the first. When now it is such a time, as Peter writes that the devil goes around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour, so now all Christians should begin to watch better and to pray to that great cross-bearer, who was also tempted by the devil, that He would battle in behalf of those in that great war and strife when that roaring lion attacks them. For now that great dragon, who is called the devil and satan has become terribly angry at the seed of the woman; now he watches carefully, when that woman who cries in pains of birth has delivered a man-child, that he would get to swallow him. But God takes that man-child to himself and protects that woman from that slime of dead faith, which the dragon spews out upon her, for this woman has been able to flee into the wilderness where the dragon cannot get along very well. Perhaps in that wilderness are many of those smaller serpents which sting the children of Israel and the seed of the woman in the heel. So then be sober and watchful, you few souls, who are traveling through the wilderness of this world to the Fatherland. Although that roaring lion goes about, seeking whom he may devour, he can do nothing to you as long as that great war hero battles in your behalf. But do not quarrel on the way to the garden and do not sleep in the garden, where the heavenly parent sweats blood. Who knows how long you can rest before Judas comes with the crowd and gives Jesus a kiss. Then you will have to wake up from your sleep and flee, if it were not so that you intend to follow Him to the hall of the high priest. Do not give yourself to temptation, Peter, do not go to the hall of the high priest as long as you have such a faith that you deny Jesus; do not go amongst the chief priests' servants to argue before you get to know yourself better; who knows, they will spoil your Christianity, and you will find yourself lying before the world. The Lord looks upon you, Peter, and remember now the Lord's words, "before the cock crows twice, you will deny me thrice." And when you remember the Lord's words, then you must go out and weep bitterly. Hear, you great war hero, the sighs of the sorrowful and penitent. Our Father, etc.
The gospel, Matthew 4: 1-11.
In today's holy gospel is spoken of the enemy's temptations, and how the enemy could not be without tempting the Son of God; so it is to be surmised that he tempts other children of God awfully, but that was more strange that the enemy dares to begin to tempt the Son of God. That the enemy tempts the Christians, that is not strange, for he has that hope to get them to fall, as is seen in the book of Job; and so the slaves of the enemy still now think, that the Christians will forsake God as soon as the enemy gets permission to touch their skin. But the tempter has not known the nature of the Son of God rightly, when he makes a bold attempt to tempt Him, for if he had known the nature of the Son of God, he would not have gone to tempt Him at all; he should have guessed that it is a vain work, to begin to tempt the Son of God. But it appears so, that the chieftain of this world is not so very vase since he goes to do such work from which no joy or gain cones, only shame.
Let us observe now through the grace of God how the eneny tempts the children of God. 1. Cares of this life or through love of the world. 2. Honor of the world. 3. Conceit or self righteousness. May all of God's children take heed of all the temptations of the devil, for the devil is not such a lax man, that the Christians can overlook him, although sometimes he pretends to be so poor and unworthy as one hungry wolf, who rolls and plays in the yard when he wants to entice the pups of the household with his deceit. Do not go to the wolf, you pups of the household, no matter how weak and powerless the wolf pretends to be.
1. The first consideration shows how the enemy tempts the children of God with sorrow of the colon or the love of the world. The Son of God had fasted for forty days and did not feel hunger, as long as he was in deep meditation, as to where he should begin to preach repentance, and we have seen that some penitent have the same spirit as the Son of God, who was led by the spirit into the wilderness, that is into solitude, where they can be in peace from the bustle of the world and the foolishness of the world, nor in that condition do the penitent have a desire for food, when they are in these deep thoughts and in the sorrow of penitance. So it was with the Son of God, a desire to go into solitude, where he could be at peace in deep meditation, how and in what way he should begin to preach repentance and redeem people's souls. And when he was in these deep meditations, he also forgot the natural food and did not feel hunger for a long time. But when he had thus fasted for forty days, finally the natural hunger began to be felt, and then the tempter came to him and said, "if Thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread." With that temptation the enemy had two objectives; first he wanted with the sorrow of the colon to arouse in him, so that with that sorrow he could confuse his thoughts and turn his sorrow away from the heavenly to natural matters. So the enemy has succeeded in confusing the thoughts of many penitent souls, when he forces the sorrow of the colon into the mind with this kind of a thought, "How will you get along now when you've began to be deliriouss," and the slaves of the world also say to this penitent soul, "he reads so many books, that he will become crazy, and now he even ceases from working and becomes delirious with those wild spirits." And yet say the slaves of the world, "Is that how a person lives, that he goes into deep meditation into the woods, and speaks of repentance, it is not fitting." It is nevertheless one time when the penitent are not able to do so much work nor have they had a desire of food, but the tempter has been able to confuse the thoughts of many penitent souls and through sorrow of the colon disperse that sorrow which is after the mind of God. And he has also offered to the Christians the love of the world and sorrow over the colon, through which he has gotten many to waver and fall away again. Now the tempter thinks, who has gotten so many penitent and graced ones to waver and turn here and there after the world, through which he has spoiled their Christianity, the tempter, I say, thinks thus, "Does not the Son of God also have sorrow of the colon, when he has become hungry and food is not to be had." But of that place such troubles come to the tempter, so he had no room anywhere. The Saviour struck him with the sword of the spirit so that the tempter did not dare to tempt the Son of God anymore of that place. It is written, "Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word which proceedeth out of the mouth of God."
So it has also been experienced that penitent souls live partly on the Word of God, especially then when they are in these deep thoughts and in the right sorrow of penitance. But the Christians no longer appear to be desirous of considering the word of God, just so the enemy could not get them in some fork of the road thereby, it is troublesome for the old adam to consider the Word of God, old adam wants to eat only the prepared. For that reason Paul had to write to the Christians, "For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk and not of strong meat." (Hebrews 5: 12) And it was also another reason why the tempter commanded the Son of God to make bread of stones. If the Son of God would have begun to make stone cakes accorcing to the command of the enemy, He would have begun to love Himself and to think, am I not something, who can make breaf of stones. But a Christian need not give in at all to that which the enemy commands, no matter how sinless and innocent a work, for if he would do in a smaller matter as the enemy commands, surely he will soon do so in larger one also. If the slave of the enemy says, "Taste a little red wine, it won't hurt you," then do not taste it at all, for then he will ge to say afterwards, "So, even that innocent man drank wine." Why should a cristian begin to do according to the command of the enemy such work, of which there is not sure knowledge, whether it is right or wrong?
2. The second consideration shows how the enemy tempts the children of God with honor of the world. If the place of sorrow of the colon is a firm place, by which the enemy has effected waivering in many, then honor of the world is no less a temptation. When the enemy took Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple and commanded Him to cast Himself down from there, it was his intention, that the Saviour should show to the world His godly power that the people would better believe upon Him. But the Saviour did not agree to that, for He did not want the vain honor of the world. Truly the enemy has not gotten the Christians to pretentious display, but that is yet another place which the enemy offers to some Christians, namely that honor of a Christian or the best Christianity, which elevates them to the pinnacle of the temple, by which they become fathers in the Christianity and begin to love themselves, especially if some also begin to believe that he is the best Christian and a leader in the Christianity. This honor of a Christian is one pinnacle of the temple to which self love and the devil of self righteousness exalts some, and for that reason the daughter of Zion is reproached in the sixteenth chapter of Ezekiel saying, "You trusted in your own beauty," you began to love yourself. What the honor of the world otherwise accomplishes in the minds of the penitent and Christians is often explained and I believe that the Christians know his deceitfulness both in the confession of sins as also in the matter of speaking. Honor of the world presses the sorrowless to wrestle and compete doing work, through which they ruin their health and become sickly in middle age, when they have abused their bodies because of worldly honor and ostentation. Some because of worldly honor hold christenings and funeral feasts, some build beautiful buildings, buy beautiful horses, prepare nice serge clothes and silk kerchiefs and thereby waste their own. But the greatest honor of the world is with the lords, who rule over others and want the whole world under their rule. This is that exceeding high mountain to which the tempter took the Saviour. He thought that the Son of God should have the greatest power on the earth, that all kings and great lords should bow themselves down before Him. That same place of honor is so great in the lords of the world, that because of the honor of the world they will do most anything, only that they would be thus exalted. But the Christians now do not have such temptation that they would want to be lords of the world, although as to many in appears that lordly Christianity is in the mind, and some want to be free lords. To that does not pertain much honor of the world but laziness and fleshly freedom, that they do not want to be slaves to other people as the Jews said to the Saviour, "We have not been slaves to anyone, we were born free." The whole world now runs after this fleshly freedom, all want to become lords, and who knows where such free lords will finally become lords. I fear that they who want to be free lords in the world, in the end can be lordly in hell. But the devil makes some sins allowable through the Word of God, for he brought from the scriptures verifications that it is allowable to cast one's self down to the ground from the pinnacle of the temple. From that is heard now that the devil reads the scriptures and if the Christians are not careful to consider the scriptures, so that they could particularly bring to the devil another place from the scriptures in answer, then ho could cause them distress. The Saviour brought immediately from another place such an answer that the tempter could get nowhere.
3. The third consideration shows how the eneny tempts the children of God through self love or self-righteousness. Especially since he cannot get the Christians to give in or to consent to one or another sinful act, then he changes himself into an angel of light and says to the penitent, "There is so much evil in you, how can you come as such to the Saviour!" He does not receive such ones who are full of devilishness and filth. The devil of self-righteousness could not tempt the Saviour so much, because he was free of all inward and outward sins, but the penitent and Christians he tempts terribly, especially when they do not always have that understanding, that they could recognize what self-righteousness effects in then. When self-righteousness changes himself into an angel of light and pushes this kind of thoughts into the mind of the penitent, "God demands a pure heart, but you do not have a pure heart, therefore you do not need to think that you are acceptable to God as you are." And in that way he prevents the penitent from coming to that great Healer, who can cleanse their hearts. And when evil thoughts, lusts and desires also come to a Christian, then he causes them to think, these evil thoughts come from the heart, how then can the heart be pure, when all evil surges up from it. And for that reason the Christians begin to doubt of their condition. But the devil shoots burning darts toward the heart and from them come the evil thoughts. Behold now you fev souls, who have the desire of the heart, with fear and trembling are following the bloody footsteps of that great cross-bearer, ana with a heavy heart, behold that crucified and thorn-crowned king, behold how the enemy has tempted the Son of God, although He was righteous and innocent of all sins. What will he then do with you, who are in many places so wavering, and halting on both sides, partly through unwatchfulness and partly through love of the world. When the enemy has dared to tempt the Son of God, of which there was no hope that he would win anything, how much more he tempts you who are also in so many places lacking and wavering. But perhaps the enemy has always desired to sift your soul as wheat, with that hope that he can win the Christians with outward and inward temptations and that all would become like Judas. So we yet have that hope and trust in God that the aevil's angels will not receive joy over the fall of the Christians as long as that great War Hero is alive, who has won over all temptations. He battles in behalf of those nouls who are able to believe upon Him, although the prince of the world, the devil goes around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he cay devour. Although this roaring lion yet would tear and ravage the Christian's body, he must anyway with annoyance and great wrath see the children of God die with joy and rejoicing, and with great boldness give their spirits into the care of God. When contrary to this, the persecutors and enemies must confess at the moment of death that they are going to hell. The devil does not tempt his slaves, who serve him faithfully, surely he lets them go to hell in peace. For what reason would he have to tempt his friends? It has not been heard yet that the sorrowless and thieves of grace would have lamented that the devil tempts them. But all saints have been tempted, all awakened and graced souls have been tempted, all who do not want to comply with the desire of the devil become tempted. Luther has lamented how the devil tempted him but the slaves of the enemy they can be in peace, free of all temptations and the grace thieves can also be in peace, free of the enemy’s temptations. But the Christians, to whom the devil has become angry, to them the devil gives no peace, them he tries to boil and roast, their hearts he wounds. For that reason St. Paul writes to the Christians, "Put on the whole armor of God that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. Stand therefore having your loins girt about with the truth and having on the breastplate of righteousness. Above all taking the shield of faith, whereby ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God." Here that valiant Apostle has shown all those weapons of war with which one brave warrior of Jesus Christ must be equipped. And all these weapons of war are needed now; when the enemy has started to attack the Christians so terribly. Now everyone who wants to become saved and to save his life, needs to be equipped both against the world which has begun to hate and persecute Jesus' disciples and also against one's own flesh, from which the devil shoots his darts. But may that great War Hero, who has won over the power of the devil, support the feeble knees, strenghten the weary hands, raise up the fallen, put oil and wine in the wounds, and drip blood when wounds come into the heart, and be their Healer to those who lie sick. Hear, you great War Hero, the sighs of all the wretched and oppressed and redeem all prisoners, that they could thank you eternally in that new Jerusalem. Amen.