What do we think when we hear we are called, as followers of Christ, to keep “sober-minded” and “self-controlled”? I love thinking over these things in scripture, partly because of my own convictions with that, but also just seeing how much our flesh goes against these things everyday. The question that we need to be asking ourselves often is, are we truly submitting to the Lord?
Some scripture that mentions these, specifically:
I encourage you to read much further!
- 1 Peter 1:13, then in chapter 4:7, and chapter 5:8-9
- 1 Thessalonians 5:6-8
- Romans 12:3
- 1 Timothy 2:9, then in chapter 3:1-7 – & verse 11
- 2 Timothy 1:7
- Titus 1:7-8, then in chapter 2:1-12
- Philippians 4:8
- James 4:7
- Ephesians 5:9
- Galatians 5:22-23
When we take a look throughout scripture the point remains the same [in this area]; stay sober-minded, and have self-control. Because why? Well to start, we have a very sinful nature, and the enemy can always tempt, trick, manipulate, plot, and destroy with that if we aren’t too careful. How will we stay clear on our path, if we cannot stay clear in our heads about what the truth is, and who we submit too? 2 Corinthians 11:14 ESV “And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.”
I think we too often forget, “even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” Sounds to me like we ought to be thoroughly sober-minded with an adversary parading around as something he most certainly is not; something seemingly good. We would be utter fools to think we could even withstand his illusions and alluring ways, without a sober mind, without self-control. Ultimately, without the Lord.
We must stay sober-minded and self-controlled in our emotions, and in anything we allow to captivate our minds; in every way. (Because we know this is not just about refraining from getting drunk).
Who or what, is captivating our minds?
Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit:
Galatians 5:22-24 ESV “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
Just before this in Galatians, we read about keeping in step with the Spirit, and the works of our flesh. Verse 16 (ESV)”But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” And then in Verses 19-21 (ESV) “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
This is a perfect guideline for us to go by here, in this chapter (and many other places in the Bible).
How About Those Emotions?
The Lord gave us feelings, and so they have purpose here. But don’t underestimate one more than the other, and don’t think that they are reliable. Our feelings are not trustworthy. Showing love can lead us to the gates of Hell, just as much as showing anger— IF we use our feelings in accordance to our flesh instead of in accordance to the Lord and what He has said in scripture. So, stay clear on what you’re allowing your feelings to dictate, as those shouldn’t be leading any decisions; regardless of how good an emotion can be.
James 4:7 ESV “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
Matthew 6:9-13 ESV “Pray the like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
Psalm 23:1-6 ESV “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
We cannot do, or be anything more than the Lord can or is. If we try to do anything in a way that we feel is good and Godly enough, instead of the way the Lord has said too, who is it we are truly submitting too? We were never promised we’d feel comfortable, good, or happy, about what the Lord asks of us. We are told to submit to His will, and bring Him the Glory, regardless of our flesh!
Stay Sober, and Encourage Those Around You To Do The Same:
If we’ve truly repented and accepted Jesus into our hearts, then we should know that we are called to lead people to Christ, to not cause our brothers/sisters in Christ to stumble, but to uplift them and encourage them, to speak the truth, and to be the salt and light of this world.
Matthew 5:13-16 ESV “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works, and bring glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
One way to encourage sober-mindedness and self-control (aside from going to the Lord with your struggle, prayer, and continuing to read scripture), is to keep accountability! If it’s something that has become a struggle, have someone trustworthy in your family/church community help with that. Remember the fruits of the Spirit, and if you notice a friend or loved one struggling with any of this, lift them up by speaking the truth; reminding them of it, and encouraging them with it.
A common reason (for many things), for not being able to keep hold of our self-control, or our sober-mindedness, is that we do not truly submit to God.
We are always more likely to submit to our sins, unless we can “die to self” and “resist the devil.” (Luke 9:23-24, James 4:7) It will always be our sinful nature, to want and try to resist the goodness of God. How wretched we are, should be a daily reminder of how wonderful the Lord is. His grace and mercy; a fair and just God.
Lastly, I’ll leave with this;
“If it’s according to your will Lord, let it be so.”
1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”