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Alert and Sober!

October 11th, 2016

So then we must not sleep as the rest, but must stay alert and sober. (1 Thes. 5:6)

The spiritual mind of the Christian sees the spiritual dangers in the world, understands the reality of the Lord’s strength in his life, and walks alertly and cautiously in his daily life. The superstitious minded person walks in fear with no assurance of anyone’s help. The Christian walks in confidence but is also aware of the threats to his spiritual life.

The fool, on the other hand, denies that there is anyone “out there” to get him, that there is no “god” in his mind, thinking that he and he alone is responsible for his life. That might sound wise to some people – to be responsible – and there is a certain kind of responsibility that we must claim and live by. But just as our cities are lined with roads and passageways that we as individuals did not build, so the spiritual world around us also possesses such paths, with spirit beings passing back and forth.

The carnal Christian, though trusting in Christ on some level, lives for himself more than for Christ and is possessed of a great delusion – that his life is his alone. So his selfishness blinds him to God and his duty to God and the life of God that could be in him.

Petr used this world “sober” three times in his first epistle, the last use reads, “Be sober and alert. Your enemy the devil, like a roaring lion, is on the prowl looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). We have an enemy in the world and the wise are aware of him.

These are the “sleeps” that we must avoid – the sleep of selfishness, of superstition, of moral compromise, of worldly distractions, of falsely based confidence.God puts us in company with these things so that we might understand the difference between wisdom and foolishness. Just as someone must learn to drive an automobile in a world full of real dangers, so we learn to follow Christ in the midst of spiritual enemies. The psalm does not lie when it says, “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” It is learning to eat in peace the table of grace the Lord has prepared under such circumstances that is difficult in the Christian life.

It should not surprise us that this leads to times of discouragement in us, times in which the enemy has sought to shroud the reality of God. Sometimes God even tests us so that we might become stronger ourselves. He does not put the evil thought in our heart to sin, but He does allow us to be in certain conditions to test us.

In the development of Christian character there sometimes come moments when darkness seems to fall, the sun seems to set, and to the man [of God] himself everything seems lost. Other people observing his life, wonder if he is sinking beyond all hope of recovery… So often the providences of God seem to run completely counter to His purposes, but only that He may test our faith, only that He may ultimately accomplish His purpose for our lives in a way that He could never do if the path were always smooth. It is when problems and difficulties seem to be overwhelming that the man of God learns some lessons that he could never learn otherwise. (Alan Redpath, The Making of a Man of God, p. 82)

So the Lord may put us in circumstances that are difficult, that are filled with spiritual enemies, so that we might in the end be stronger and more confident in Him. We should take care not to run into those circumstances ourselves, for that will lead to our spiritual failure. But we should not be surprised when God lets us be there. He is teaching us to trust Him.

To be sober means to be confidently alert and awake, not lulled into a false sense of security, but neither overwhelmed with fear. We may live confidently in the power of God, without fear, looking to Him for His power and strength.

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