An important part of holiness is being sober minded. Again, 1 Peter 1:13 says, “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
This call to sobriety is found all through the New Testament. For example…
* 1 Peter 4:7 – The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.
* I Peter 5:8 – Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
* I Thessalonians 5:6 – So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.
* I Thessalonians 5:8 – But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.
* 2 Timothy 4:5 – As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
The opposite of sober is intoxication. It started off small, but now we need toxins to function, or distract us. I’m not just talking about drink. There are other things that intoxicate us, clouding our judgement. Here are a few.
One, Success. Success thrills. Coming in second is OK, but its nothing compared with number one. There’s nothing wrong with success, it can become all-consuming. So, we cut corners and twist the truth to get more of it.
Two, Self. There’s an intoxication that comes from being wrapped up in self, our hurts, wounds, bitterness, resentment, and past pains. We like to say, “Nobody knows the troubles I’ve had.” We enjoy feeling sorry for ourselves. We throw a pity party every day.
Third, Sin. Sin is a rush. The dopamine starts to flow. Sin is fun. Then like a vapor it vanishes and we’re left holding the consequences of our decision. Sin promises us money, success, happiness, and fame. Excited, we sign the contract and it takes our soul.
Fourth, Substance. Just one more drink. One more shot. A bit won’t hurt. No one has to know.
I think about Lot in the Bible. He was the nephew of Abraham, the father of faith, a man with a deep love for the Lord. Lot heard his uncle pray, and watched him build altars of worship. Their relationship made Lot a better person. But there came a day when he saw the city of Sodom. He was attracted by its beauty, wealth, and advanced culture. He left Abraham, and first pitched his tent near Sodom. Then, he sat at the gates of Sodom. And before long he was living in the city. Lot thought, “I can live here and not be affected. We’ll manage.” Living in Sodom was exciting. Years passed, and his senses became dulled. He didn’t see what the city was doing to his wife and children. He had no idea the Lord was coming in judgement. Graciously, God gave Lot a warning and time to run. But it was too late. When he told his children the truth they laughed. They called their dad a religious fanatic. The fiery day of judgement came, and he lost his children, grandchildren, and wife.
It’s time to get sober. Intoxicated we don’t think clearly. Here are two sobering thoughts. Your sins will find you out. Numbers 32:23 says, “But if you will not do so, behold, you have sinned against the LORD, and be sure your sin will find you out.” You’ll reap what you sew. What you thought was hidden will be shouted from the roof tops.
Most sobering of all, Jesus is coming back. 2 Peter 3:9-10 says, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you,a not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.” I don’t have any charts to show you. I just know we’re living in the last days. We find the New Testament writers talking a lot about the last days. When did the last days begin? With Jesus’ death and resurrection, and the coming of the Holy Spirit, a new and final epoch in salvation history began. The stage is set. We’re living in the last chapter, between the coming of the Holy Spirit and the Second Coming. As there was a day of judgement for Sodom there will be a Final Judgement. So, let’s get sober. There’s no time to waste. We have important work to do.
What does it mean to be sober? It means we’re fully present, alert, and aware. To get sober we’ll have detoxify ourselves. By God’s grace and with the help of his church we’ll have to let go of the stuff that’s clouding our judgement so we can focus clearly on what God has for us.