The Apostle Peter desires for God’s people to be sober-minded. Three times in his first epistle, Peter tells God’s people of the importance of being sober-minded (1:13; 4:7; 5:8). Two of the times are imperatives that teach that this is an important truth that God commands for His people in light of His grace to us.
Sober-mindedness can mean to be self-controlled, to think sensibly, or seriously, or what we might call being realistic about life. It is to think Christianly ultimately. This means God’s people are to have a biblical understanding about their own sinful hearts, the right perspective and expectations of living in a fallen world, and to be able to grasp at the same time God’s immense love and mercy that He has for His people in Jesus Christ. We are to think realistically about our lives.
What particularly are we to be sober-minded about? Peter teaches us to be sober-minded about our hope (1:13), our utter dependence upon God to endure faithfully (4:7), and our agonizing conflict that we are engage in as Christians (5:8). Our hope is to set our hope fully upon the grace to be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1:13b). This is thinking soberly. This is not putting your hope in earthly dreams and seeking to be satisfied here in this world. Rather, it is to realize that your great inheritance, and your fortune of grace is with Christ “kept in heaven for you” and is “imperishable, undefiled, and unfading” (1:4-5). This is your hope.
We are utterly dependent upon God as we live our lives in this fallen world. We live in the last days, the final chapter of God’s redemptive story, and we must be sober-minded for the sake of our prayers (4:7). Christ’s work has been fully completed for us and we are to pray continually to Him, learning to be ever dependent upon Him. Our sin in Adam has always been self-dependence, and seeking independence from God. Being sober-minded is to know we have a tremendous need of Him, and to learn to have deeper and greater communion with Him. Because He loves us!
As God’s people we are to be sober-minded because there is a great conflict in which we are engaged. The Christian life is a great cosmic battle (Eph 6:10-20). We need to think realistically about our own sinful tendencies, the “sin that so easily besets us” (Heb. 12:2), living cautiously and circumspectly, knowing that although Christ has dealt the mortal wound to the wicked dragon, he still seeks to pursue Christ’s Bride and harm us by his evil schemes (Rev. 12; Eph. 6:11; 2 Cor. 2:11). Our enemy is like a roaring lion seeking to devour and so we need to be watchful and prayerful at all times against him; we need to pray continually for one another (Eph. 6:18-20).
Surely Peter is drawing on his own experience having sinned against the Lord throughout his life in trying circumstances when he did not have a healthy sober-mindedness. Peter’s faith never completely failed him because our Lord Jesus prayed for Him and forgave Him when he confessed his sin of evil carelessness and unbelief. When our Lord Jesus forgave Peter and restored him, He told Peter that he would go and strengthen his brothers (Luke 22:32). Being sober-minded is one very important message with which God’s people need to be strengthened.
Let us be sober-minded, and confess our sins to Christ when we fail, and seek to ask Him for greater faith to know where our hope is, how effectual our prayers our as we remain dependent upon Him, and to trust Him to help us overcome our evil adversary, resisting him and standing firm in the faith.
In Christ, Pastor Biggs