8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. ~ 1 Peter 5 (NIV)
28 Whoever has no rule over his own spirit, is like a city broken down, without walls. ~ Proverbs 25 (KJV)
Listening to the Holy Spirit and following his prompting is more important than we could ever possibly, fully understand. Often people always say that they struggle to hear God, but of the things hear God speaking to you, how much of it do you obey? Sometimes we need to stop and think before we pray. We pray so often for the Lord to speak and reveal things to us, but if you would just do the last thing, he already spoke to you, or the things you already knew, you could find God in that space. If you are someone who has been waiting on God for a word but disobeying the last thing He said, maybe you need to go back before you can move forward.
What I want to talk about in this post, is about being, alert AND disciplining our spirits – having self-control. I Peter 5:8-9 instructs us to be ‘alert and of sober mind.’ Proverbs 25:28 says that ‘whoever has no rule over his own spirit, is like a city broken down, without walls.’
That got me thinking about what a city without walls looks like. That is a place no one would want to live, why? Because you wouldn’t be safe. There is no protection, no security, you are vulnerable. This is the condition of your spirit when you lack self-control and do whatever you want to do. The devil is very, very real! Yes, he was defeated on the cross, but you have to claim that victory every single day by ruling your spirit and saying no to your flesh and following the advice of the Holy Spirit. There is still a battle to fight and without self-control, you are not even giving yourself a fighting chance.
The reason why I placed 1 Peter and Proverbs side by side, is because I believe they are saying the same things, almost two sides of the same coin. (Side note: it is important to read the old AND the new testament.) Peter tells us to be ‘alert and of sober mind’ because our enemy is looking for someone to devour. So, Peter is telling us that we need to be alert, to be able to recognise when the enemy is trying to trip us up and devour us. To be sober means to be calm and collected in spirit. The bible is not talking about being physically sober here. Some of the definitions of the Greek word for sober, nēphō, is dispassionate, circumspect, to be calm and collected, i.e making decisions based on a clear mind. As children of God we are not supposed to be led by our feelings or emotions, emotions are not bad, and God has given them to us for a reason, but they are not supposed to rule us. The saddest thing is that most of us make emotional decisions without even realising it. Therefore, we find it hard to put our emotions to one side when we are making a decision. Decisions can be as simple as deciding what to buy or being on the fence about something the bible clearly speaks
Being sober and cautious about what we do can seem so tasking sometimes. After a while, you may feel like you deserve a break and to just “let loose” after all, you’ve been so disciplined the past couple of months. You are not alone, trust me, but it is important to be consistent with God. After a while, it will feel less tasking, and just becomes the way you live your life.
So, how can you be sober and alert? Firstly, there is no greater resource than the word of God. Another word given for the Greek word for sober was dispassionate. So basically, having a clear mind, not being swayed by one thing or another. Making decisions with clarity. There is nothing that will bring you more clarity than the Word of God! The Holy Bible. If you want to be sober, you need to start with the Word of God. If you start with your morals and your own moral compass to decide what to do and use that to navigate your life, you are already off. God sets that standard of holiness and if you do not let someone higher than you set the standard you will end up just doing what seems right in your own eyes. Over time your standards will change, move up or down, depending on how you feel, what society says etc. Your standard of what is right and wrong is not trustworthy because you have been influenced by so many things that do not align with the will of God, as have I. So, you have to read the word to get clarity on what is and is not right. Moreover, Romans 12:2 tells us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, that happens through reading the word, learning the truth, learning more about God.
The word of God is like water, when you are drunk, physically speaking, you get sober by drinking water to flush the alcohol out your system or by eating bread to soak the alcohol up. Jesus is described as the bread of life (John 6:35) and calls all who are thirsty to come to Him and drink living water (John 7:37-39). We need Jesus to stay sober and His Word. You can’t be truly alert if you are not sober first.
To be sober, you need to asses what you are letting in that is not helping you to be sober on a daily basis. This may not necessarily mean cutting things out altogether but maybe reducing how much you take in. I know for me, my social media usage, Instagram especially needs to be reduced dramatically, because it will just lead to me spending hours on their doing basically nothing instead of doing what I need to, like being consistent with my blog, being consistent with my university work and so on. The enemy may not be able to destroy us, but he sure can distract us.
Social media can be a blessing, there have honestly been times that the Lord has spoken to me through someone’s post. However, if you are letting social media set your standard for things, this can lead to you accepting certain things that God wants us as His people to pray against or speak out against. For example, if you are always comparing your life, your looks, your family to someone else’s and it is making you feel less than. You could start believing the devil’s lies that you are less than, when in reality God calls you, the apples of his eye (Zechariah 2:8) the head and NOT the tail, (Deuteronomy 28:13) a royal priesthood, a chosen people (1 Peter 2:9). You are special to God and so is everything about you and the enemy can lie to you through so many things and in so many ways. That is why you have to be ‘alert and sober’ and recognise when the enemy is working and use
However, what good is it to be able to recognise the tricks of the enemy but not have enough self-control to do anything about it. This is where Proverbs comes in. Being able to recognise temptation is great, but without acting on it, you could still fall into the enemy’s trap. How many times have you recognised something is wrong, but do it anyway? Both my hands are up for sure! This is where we need to exercise those self-control muscles and be able to rule over our spirit.
Truly, there is no formula for this, it is not one of those things that you just pray a mighty prayer and you will wake up one day and have complete self-control. It’s honestly a daily battle to act upon what you feel the Holy Spirit is drawing you towards. There will be good days and bad days, take each day as they come and just focus on the now. Ask God for forgiveness every time you mess up and believe that He has forgiven you and keep walking forward. Of course, you can pray for God’s help to say no, but you will have to do the work and act on His guidance.
A scripture I love to pray with is Philippians 2:13 (NLT) “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.”
Stay Blessed x