1 Peter 5:8 – “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
What does it mean to be sober-minded? Are we sober-minded? We’ve assumed a lot about our minds when we relegate this charge of being sober-minded to the avoidance of alcoholic drunkenness. Sure, our charge is to not be drunk on wine, but to be filled instead by the Holy Spirit; but to be sober-minded means being more than just not drunk! The Greek work for “sober-minded” speaks to being temperate, dispassionate, and circumspect. John MacArthur describes being sober-minded as “ordering and balancing life’s important issues, which requires the discipline of mind and body that avoids the intoxicating allurements of the world.”
The sin and lawlessness and evil in this world are bad. They are really bad. I tend to preach about sin a lot, but I don’t think I’ve really understood just how evil and corrupt this world really is. I don’t think we’ve even begun to scratch the surface of the evil and web of corruption that exists in this world. Our three great enemies are much closer to us than we might think. Satan is prowling around like a roaring lion seeking to devour. The world is caught in this web of corruption and evil and lawlessness more than most of us in the United States understand; and our flesh longs to be caught up in the web of deception and lawlessness that has trapped it. The sin and evil in this world is far worse than we even realize.
As I spent time in the Middle East among a people group who have suffered under the hand of an evil dictator, I found myself overwhelmed by the reality of the evil in this world. At the same time, returning to the United States where life goes on as normal, I found myself once again overwhelmed by the reality of the evil in this world. Not only are there evil dictators in the world torturing and murdering, but these so-called innocent people who are enduring this suffering are also the ones rejecting the truth of Jesus Christ. Maybe they are rejecting the truth because they’ve not been exposed to the truths of the gospel. Maybe they are rejecting the truths of the gospel because they are caught up in a worldview and religion that worships a god who is not the one true God. Whatever the reason, for them, sin and evil dominate.
As I return to the United States, the so-called “promised land,” I see a people caught up in the same web of corruption and evil and lawlessness. The same sin that leads dictators to use chemical warfare to murder children is the same sin that leads Christians to be apathetic toward the Great Commission. The same sin that leads millions around the world to reject Jesus Christ and follow Allah is the same sin that leads us in the United States to live in certain cultural comfort, while actually just being intoxicated and blind. We are living in a web of deception, a web of corruption. The goal of Satan, the world, and the flesh is to cause us to be blind and unaware instead of “sober-minded” and “watchful.”
To be sober-minded and watchful is to pay attention by the Holy Spirit’s work to the ways in which evil and sin are seeking to control us. We are in a war! We are on the front lines of a battle. As long as we live as if we are not in a battle, we will be on the losing side of that battle. Sin and lawlessness and evil in this world are bad. They are really bad. Praise God that the promise for us is that we are “more than conquerors” if we are in Christ Jesus! (Romans 8:37).