In the cankerous mind of the devil, there festered a fiendish scheme;
He called his cohorts around him, and designed the submarine .
“The Submarine” by Walter Bishop
World War II has been something of an interest of mine. Pearl Harbor, the D-Day campaign and naval battles have been the areas I’ve been reading about WWII. Recently, I picked up a book called The War Below by James Scott which covers the patrols of three different US submarines. In its most basic form, a submarine’s mission is to find a target, approach it by stealth and attack without the enemy ever knowing where the attack was originating. The resulting chaos from an unknown attacker makes any retaliatory action by the enemy less effective.
Submarines were so different in their approach to warfare that as late as early 1900’s submarines were considered immoral. In a New York Times editorial dated April 13, 1916 stated, “Submarine war is inherently inhuman and for that reason should be prohibited.”
These are the days before nuclear propulsion and GPS systems. Those WWII subs needed to surface on a regular basis to charge their batteries. While submerged, they often needed to have their periscope above the waves to navigate (they still used star charts to plot their position) and see their enemy to fire torpedoes. This was a weakness of the subs and therefore the prevailing way to combat submarines was to constantly be looking for them. Look outs would be dutifully watching the sea for the telltale sign of a periscope peeking out of the water. Of course, that is easier said than done since a periscope is a rather small item to look for on a vast ocean.
Like a submarine, our enemy tends to approach us by stealth and fire at us when we least expect it. Peter tells us, “Be sober, be vigilant because your adversary, the devil walks about like a lion looking whom he may devour” – 1 Peter 5:8. But what does it mean to “Be sober, be vigilant…” beyond just not being intoxicated? Is there more to this warning?
The first word is more than just not drinking too much. It refers to the “intoxicating influence of sin.” It refers to “having a presence of mind” and a “clear judgment.”
The next word, we translate as “vigilant” means to be watchful or “on the alert.”
So when Peter puts these words together he is warning us in the strongest language to watch out, pay attention, BE ON THE ALERT!!!! Our adversary is on the prowl and it’s only the wise and prudent believer is prepared to do battle. Like the submarine, he approaches by stealth, waits for the perfect time and strikes without warning.
Jesus, referring to the devil said “The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy” -John 10:10a. James tells us “But each one of you is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed” – James 1:14. The devil is very real and he is out for our destruction.
Further, we have defensive methods available. We are to be on the alert, look out and pay attention because of Satan’s presence. As Christians, we have God’s Word as a weapon (Hebrews 4:12) and unique armor (Ephesians 6:11-16).
We are in a battle. It’s not one fought off small islands in the Pacific Ocean, but it’s a very personal and constant spiritual battle. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 10:4, “The weapons of our warfare are not carnal but are mighty in God..” (emphasis mine).
It is a battle, everyday. But it’s a battle where we need not to succumb to defeat. Arm yourself. Get in His Word and pay attention. He’s out there looking to deceive, discourage and defeat you.