If you have ever faced a sudden and unexpected danger you know how terrifying the moment can be. Like the shock and panic of a car pulling out in front of you or someone scaring you by jumping out from a dark place. When startled like this, we may feel a burst of energy and react quickly to the threat. This is known as the “fight or flight” response where we will stand our ground or run away from danger.
Unfortunately, we cannot always predict our action in unforeseen moments or know if we will make the right choices. I think most of us would rather know when and where we will face dangers so we can be ready. If I knew a car was going to pull out I would slow down. If I knew someone was lurking in the dark I would go another way.
While I cannot foresee every possible danger, that does not mean I should stop looking. We need to keep our eyes and ears open when driving. Stay aware of our surroundings when walking in dark places. Recognizing danger earlier gives us a better chance for a good result.
What if I do not know danger is lurking; does my ignorance keep me from getting hurt? It would be like an innocent child touching a hot pan. The burn and pain are still real even if he did not understand the threat.
These same points are true for Christians as they try to live right before God. We can face sudden and unexpected dangers. (Acts 7:57-58) Trials and sinful cravings may come on us swiftly. (2 Samuel 11) In these moments, danger threatens our souls and we ought to tremble with fear. Do not think ignorance is bliss and not knowing protects us. If we are overcome, the result is everlasting and not knowing the danger changes nothing. (Matt. 7:21-23)
Just like we cannot steer clear of risks in life, it is not possible for Christians to avoid all tests to their faith. (2 Tim. 3:12) That does not mean we should do nothing. We can increase our chances for success by seeing danger a little earlier. Perhaps we can escape a few trials or better prepare with some extra time.
The Devil is never going to give-up on trying to catch Christians off guard. Satan is our enemy and bent on destroying us. The key to overcoming him is by having a sober mind and watchful nature.
1 Peter 5:8-9 – Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.
The Greek word translated “Sober-minded” carries the idea of abstaining from wine. Why should Christians avoid drinking alcohol? Because drinking any amount disrupts the mind’s power to think and reason fully. Satan wants us mentally weak and our willpower down since it gives him the best chance to “devour” us.
Alcohol is not alone in corrupting the way we think and act. In fact, it is just one of many worldly cares that enslave us if we are not careful. Many people believe the way to happiness is a carefree and do what you want life. They do not understand what they call freedom is doing nothing more than bringing them into the bondage of sin. (Gal. 4:6-9)
A sober-minded person will try to be calm and cautious every moment of every day. We might say it this way, “We need to keep our wits about us at all times.” This is why Christians hold on to a sincere and motivated heart by serving God and putting Him first. We focus our minds on heaven and what we need to do to please our Father. (Col. 3:1-10)
There needs to be a serious approach to life and the time God has given us. I am not saying we cannot enjoy ourselves as Christians, because we can and should. However, true joy comes from faithfully serving the One who loves us the most. (Rom. 15:13) God wants the best for us, He has done the most for us, and He has prepared a home that is best for us. We had better take our service to Him seriously. (1 Peter 1:13-16)
Peter’s second warning to Christians is to be watchful. The idea is of a soldier on watch in a dangerous time or perhaps a shepherd guarding his sheep from wild animals. Paul says one cannot sleep and watch at the same time, so he warns “let us not sleep, as do others.” (1 Thess. 5:2-8)
If we knew the exact moment danger was going to present itself, we would have no problem staying awake. However, though we know danger is always near we do not know its precise timing. Satan knows this about us and he is patient. He can wait for an hour, a day, or a week to attack our faith. We cannot ever afford to sleep spiritually.
The Devil has so many ways to entice or test us it is hard to always be ready. He may use our family against us, the people we love the most, to draw us away from God. (Matt. 10:21-22) Perhaps it is the offer of our dream job making more money than we ever thought possible. (Matt. 6:19-21) Maybe it’s the chance to move to a place we always wanted to live. People sometimes give up on God when they face hardships, or when life treats them unfairly. (1 Peter 4:19) Satan knows how to chip at our faith overtime with small, slow, and unnoticed changes. A sober-minded and watchful Christian will succeed spiritually.