We spent the last week hosting conferences by two visiting pastors from Texas, Bard Letsinger and Chad Barrett. Since I was translating for Bard, I have told this illustration once or twice a day all week, and I still think that it is great!
Bard starts out the conference showing the people a little stuffed lion named Leo that his 6yo daughter sent with him to keep him company. He and his daughter play a game with this lion--she hides him and says she can't go to bed unless the Leo is found. Then Bard finds the lion and puts him on his head and says "I don't know where he is. You'll just have to go to bed without him." Then she sees him and they laugh and she gets tucked into bed with Leo, because he is a cute cuddly little stuffed animal.
But what is a real lion like? It's a ferocious beast with sharp teeth and claws. It would rip you to pieces. You would never tuck it into bed with your 6yo daughter.
1 Peter 5:8 says that the devil is like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. But when Satan tempts us to sin, he doesn't present himself as a ferocious beast. Instead he presents himself and the temptation as harmless and enjoyable--something to embrace that will make you feel better. But the reality is that sin is the lion that will devour you spiritually, and ruin your life.
The verse starts out with the answer--be sober and alert. Be on the lookout for the real lion disguised as a cuddly toy. Don't be fooled! Verse 9 says resist and stand firm in the faith. Trust God's word to show you what's right and wrong.