8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.
Sobriety and vigilance are crucial to living a victorious Christian life. The Greek word for “sober” (nēphō) means being temperate or abstinent, especially in respect to wine. It is an antonym for the state of mind caused by drunkenness and is used more broadly to refer to spiritual and moral sobriety, a clear-thinking and self-controlled mental state that is free from confusion and unbridled passions. The Greek word for “vigilance” (grēgoreō) refers to alertness and watchfulness. When used together, these words exhort Christians to live with self-control and constant awareness against snares and temptations of sin.
At no time should we be heedless or unguarded. Our minds must always stand on guard against the most minute and unobservable encroachment of sin. Even that which appears to be harmless can lead us to great spiritual and moral perils. Not surprisingly, it has been said that “the enemy that is least feared is usually the soonest felt.”
How often we have heard Christian men regretfully say, “Oh, I fell in an unguarded moment; the temptation came so suddenly!” But why were they off their guard? Is it not because they had lived carelessly and wantonly? We must not indiscriminately accept every invitation given to us. We must carefully analyse every overture made to us, whether it would undermine our commitment to our Saviour and Lord.
Our vigilance must be comprehensive. Let none be too cocksure that he will not be overtaken by certain kinds of temptation. While we resist one form of evil, let us not forget that there are other subtle temptations in the world. While we watch against external forces that are bent on destroying our walk with God, let us also be on guard against internal passions that are equally perilous. If we are not vigilant, though we may watch against fleshly lusts, we may still give room (knowingly or unwittingly) in our hearts for pride, self-righteousness, and the like.
All such allurements of sin originate in our chief adversary, Satan. He is like a mighty, ferocious lion at our door, waiting to pounce on us and devour us. Let us not carelessly open the door of our heart. Satan, like a lion, would pounce on his prey, unseen and unsuspected. He is not only powerful and ferocious, he is also very crafty. So, be on your guard!