Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Be Sober

By Adam Faughn

    A swimmer near Miami Beach was recently the subject of a very interesting, and quite frightening, video. The man was simply floating on his back in fairly shallow water as a drone flew overhead. The swimmer even gave the drone a thumbs up and smiled throughout the vast majority of the short video clip.
    The water was clear enough, though, that the drone could also film what was in the water under the swimmer: a hammerhead shark. The swimmer never saw the shark and even came within what looks like inches of hitting the creature with his foot at one point. Finally, after a few seconds, the shark swam away, as hammerheads almost never prey on humans. (But notice that word "almost!")
    Still, the image of that swimmer smiling obliviously as such a creature was, at most, just a few feet away is quite the illustration of the way so many people live their spiritual lives. We go through life smiling, finding distractions, and making sure we are having lots of fun, oblivious to the fact that there are forces all around us that would love nothing more than to destroy our souls.
    In 1 Peter 5:8, Peter tells us how to prepare for our enemy, the devil. He gives two short commands: "Be sober-minded; be watchful" (ESV). Other translations have the first command as simply "be sober" (KJV). The original word has the idea behind it of being circumspect or of being calm in our spirit.
    Typically, when we think of the word "sober," our minds go to abstaining from alcohol. Even all those years ago, the word used by Peter could also be used in that way; the reason being that things like alcohol cloud our thinking. They keep us from being able to see the world through the proper, Biblical lens because our minds are no longer clear to think the way we are to think.
    When our minds are not spiritually clear, and we are not letting Scripture be our guide in all ways, we begin to let our guard down to the knowledge that we have an adversary who is constantly looking for an opening to tempt us. Like the shark under that swimmer, the devil is simply "there," but unlike the shark, our enemy will not leave due to disinterest. He will strike if we are not watching for him. (It will not be "almost" never; he will never miss an opportunity to tempt us if we are not watching.)
    What can we do to make certain that our thinking is always clear and that we are truly ready for our enemy's temptations? Here are three simple but very needed reminders.
    1. Hear from the Lord Constantly. By this, I do not mean that we hear audibly from Him in some mystical way. I mean that we dive deeply into His Word and let it guide our thinking. A psalmist wrote, "I have stored up Your word in my heart, that I might not sin against You" (Psalm 119:11). For each of us, there is some area in which we are highly vulnerable to the temptations of Satan. Knowing what God has to say about those matters makes all the difference, especially if we know what Scripture states before we ever face the temptation in the first place.
    2. Monitor Our Thinking. Paul gave a tremendous insight into how to do this with one simple phrase. In 2 Corinthians 10:6, he wrote that we "take every thought captive to obey Christ." Every thought! Even when our mind "drifts," do we make sure it is drifting toward things that are wholesome and that help us obey our Lord? What are we putting into our minds that could possibly be taking us away from that obedience and giving our enemy a foothold in our life?
    3. Confess Wrong Thinking. We often are willing to confess wrongdoing, but if we are going to keep our minds clear for the Lord, we need to confess to Him when our thinking is not what it should be.
    In reality, we know we have an enemy and, if we are taking in the Word of God, we are not ignorant of how our enemy, the devil, works (cf. 2 Corinthians 2:11). But we can easily get distracted by the allure of the world and forget that he is always there, waiting to set a temptation before us if we allow our thinking to be too drawn to the cares and distractions of the world.
    Instead, let us constantly keep our minds focused on the ways of God and our eyes open to the temptations that are always around us, ready to resist our enemy and draw near to our Lord (James 4:7-8). If we do, he, like that shark, will go away.
- Adam Faughn preaches for the Central Church of Christ in Paducah KY. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.centralchurchofchrist.org Visit the Faughn Family blog, A Legacy of Faith.

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