It is unnerving to think we might have an enemy. It is even more so to think about the nature of the enemy that we have – one who desires the end of our body and soul. The disciple Peter said the devil is like a roaring lion, prowling around, seeking someone to devour. That someone could be me. Or it could be you.
The answer for Peter was simple. “Resist him.” Peter said we should be firm in our faith, and we should remember Christians across the world also are enduring suffering.
For Peter and for Daniel, the enemy entered into the life of God’s people through persecution. The early Christians were suffering because of their faith. Daniel was entrapped in his faith by those who opposed him and who knew how to work the levers of government.
This kind of persecution brings its own kind of temptation – the temptation to forsake the faith. Peter said we should stand firm in our faith in these moments. Daniel did this. His practice was to go up into his upper chamber, throw open the windows toward Jerusalem, and hit his knees. Even knowing the trap, Daniel kept doing this – “as he had done previously.” That’s a way of standing firm in the faith. We continue in the godly habits we’ve cultivated over the years.
What meaning, if any, does this have for us? We are only slightly persecuted at the moment. We are only jeered at (typically from a distance) and not flogged, imprisoned, or thrown to the lions. Still, perhaps we should continue with our godly habits that we’ve cultivated over the years – gathering, praying, reading, and the like.
The temptations we face today are of a subtle nature. We’re urged to slip back, to relax, to let down our guards. The temptation is to not stand firm. And the temptation is veiled. We are distracted by good things and good causes. We aren’t challenged outright to renounce our faith. Instead, we’re challenged not to make it the chief priority in our lives.
The enemies of Daniel knew all about his faith and the weight it carried in his life. Their aim was to use his faithfulness against him – to force him out of the picture. Their aim was the destruction of a man.
Jesus spent his time in the wilderness, with the wild animals, being tempted by Satan (Mark 1:12-13). The end goal was the destruction of a man.
As we struggle against the machinations of our enemy, we ought to remember our Savior – the one who did not succumb. He held firm in his faith and in the faith practices that he had cultivated over the years. And he is with us.