Be Sober, Be Vigilant :: by Ron and Nathele Graham

Ron Graham was called home on March 14, 2013. He began writing this commentary before his death and had asked me, Nathele Graham, to continue his service to our Lord by finishing what he began.

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking who he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world” (1 Peter 5:8-9).

By the time Peter had written this epistle he had matured a lot. In the Gospels we see him as the one who was enthusiastically rash. On one hand he would valiantly declare that he would defend Jesus to the death, but a few hours later he was the one who denied that he knew Christ. It was Peter who tried to stop Jesus from going to Jerusalem because there He would be crucified.

“But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men” (Mark 8:33).

Oh, it was Peter speaking, but Jesus knew who inspired his words. Peter thought he was doing the right thing in trying to stop Jesus from being harmed by the leadership of the Jews, but he hadn’t been vigilant in studying the Old Testament prophets, nor had he been vigilant in listening to all that Jesus taught. By the time Peter wrote this letter he had learned well what happens when vigilance is not a priority.

This is an important concept for Christians today to come to grips with. “Be sober”…don’t take salvation through Jesus lightly. A great price was paid for our salvation, and that should be a sobering thought to every Christian. “Be vigilant”…don’t let your guard down. Satan will always try to devour those who are not vigilant to study and apply God’s word to our life.

It is not always easy for the born-again believer to walk the path God has set before us and without due vigilance it can be easy to wander, especially during these end times in which we live. Sometimes we fail and head off in the wrong direction, but that usually happens when we are not sober or vigilant in our walk with Jesus.

When failure happens Christians have a personal Savior who is always with us no matter where we wander. This should be very convicting, and it is if we are truly born again. When we wander into the presence of evil we must understand that our Savior is standing right beside us, beckoning us back.

“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” (Hebrews 13:5-6).

The word “conversation” is the King James word meaning the manner of life, character, and deportment. As Christians we must always be on our guard to live our faith so that we will not stumble in our walk. The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Holy Trinity, lives right inside of us and He will guide us away from temptations if we let Him.

Sin in our society is so prevalent that many people, both Christians and non-Christians, no longer look at evil as they should. Sin is glorified as we listen to Satan’s lies rather than Jesus’ truth. Many people today feel nothing is sinful as long as it feels good and seems right in their own eyes. They now give credence to evil and immoral lifestyles by accepting them as legitimate.

Christians need to be sober and vigilant and not compromise God’s Word at all. Jesus never said it would be easy, but He will always be with us as our example and our strength to resist joining ourselves to worldly sin. He will never leave us nor forsake us, but we need to be sober and vigilant to follow Him in our Christian life. That “Christian life” isn’t something we do on Sunday morning. No, it is a 24/7 way of life, or as King James says “conversation.”

Staying on the strait and narrow path takes discipline and courage, courage even when faced with a loved one who might disagree with our position on the Bible; discipline to stay the course instead of faltering because of the influence of that loved one. Anytime we place anyone or anything before God we are in error. As believers we know that no one or no material thing should come before Jesus Christ in our life.

“If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26-27).

These are strong words from our Lord. Jesus must come first even if our family or friends turn on us for our faith. When Peter and the others chose to follow Jesus their life was in danger. We can read about how Saul, later known as Paul, pursued Christians with vengeance. He did so with the blessing of the Jewish leaders.

Things aren’t much different today, especially in Muslim countries and China. The same devil who sought to devour the early Christians stalks his prey today. Christians make a choice each day to take up our cross, crucify our own free will, and follow Christ.

Many Christians, though, aren’t able to cope because they allow too many distractions to permeate their lives. When we stop being sober and vigilant and give in to sin, that’s when we feel guilt and often we remove ourselves from fellowship with God. Remember, Christ is always with us and once we accept His sacrifice the Holy Spirit is sealed within us. When we choose to wander into sin we take God with us. That should be a sobering thought for any Christian.

It’s easy to get distracted. If you let your Bible lay around to collect dust and abstain from fellowshipping with likeminded believers you’ll come to realize just how simple it is to follow the wide road that leads to destruction. Christians should not go even one day without reading scripture verses or speaking with our Lord; this is how we stay sober and vigilant. Bask in God’s word and submit to His will. Remember, too, that when we sin we have the promise of forgiveness

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

It’s better to be sober and vigilant and not sin, but through Jesus we have forgiveness. The things that become a hindrance in our walk with Jesus are things we need to get control over. Take a minute and think of everything that you put ahead of Jesus. Jobs are necessary, but they can become first in our lives and be placed ahead of Christ.

How about when you get home from your job and just want to relax in front of the TV? Television is a big distraction and filled with glorified sin, so why watch it? Wouldn’t it be better to read your Bible? Or at least put a recorded Bible tape on and listen to that. When you listen to music do you choose Christian music or do you fill your mind with secular filth?

Anything we place ahead of Christ will become a stumbling block in our path. These distractions can be strongholds used by the enemy to get in the way of your Christian walk. Like a roaring lion, the devil is looking to devour you. The next time you feel yourself being led down the wrong path go to your Bible and read through Proverbs.

In one way or another, Solomon hits on just about every distraction known to man. It’s also a good idea to get an accountability partner. Brothers or sisters in Christ can be a great help when it comes to being sober and vigilant. Tell them what is distracting you and affecting your walk, they’ll understand. You never know, they may be suffering through the same distractions as you.

“And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:17-18).

Notice that Paul says “praying always.” Prayer is our connection with God. Never stop praying. When you find yourself tempted to stray remember that we have an advocate with God the Father which is Christ Jesus our Lord. I know many Christians who think that they should not pray for themselves.

Who knows your struggles better than you? If you are being sober and vigilant you will always be in prayer so temptation cannot overtake you. Even though the enemy rails against us and wants to devour us, Jesus is always there to defend us.

Is there anything more important in life than living as Christ would have us live? When I accepted Christ I found joy that could never be attained by worldly standards. Only living for Christ can bring the peace everyone is looking for.

“For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you” (1 Peter 1:24-25).

In looking at the big picture, life on earth is very short—like the grass and flowers that fade away. Pleasing God needs to be the Christian’s goal. How do we please Him? By being sober and vigilant in our Bible study will tell us how to please Him, then living in a way that reflects what we read. In pleasing Him through our lives we also find peace and joy unlike any pseudo-pleasure this world has to offer. Listen to the voice of experience from Peter…be sober, be vigilant.

God bless you all,

Ron & Nathele Graham