15 Jan 2014 by Tony Dibble-
Throughout the Bible, Christians are constantly reminded to be watchful, alert, sober and vigilant. These warnings are issued to both churches and individuals.
We spend time in the world where we run the risk of being away from the presence of the Lord as we are absorbed in the affairs of the world, most of the day. The warnings apply to our spiritual conduct as well as to our preparedness for the return of Christ.
The timing of Christ’s return is part of GOD’s providential plan and therefore outside man’s limited mental framework. Christ is therefore not playing games with us when he tells us that we have no clue of the time of His return. He wants all men everywhere saved and out of his affection for us, He is warning us not to be slack about His return.
In Matt 24:42 Jesus was talking about the destruction of Jerusalem and He spoke of His second coming. He requested that we be alert as none know of the day of His return. The Christian must not take his life on earth for granted.
In Chapter 25 verse 13 after narrating the parable of the 10 virgins, Christ repeats the warning again as we do not know the hour, nor the day of His return.
In Matt 26:41 Christ warned His disciples before His capture, to watch and pray in order to ensure that they did not enter into temptation: they were found to be asleep–this was not just on a single occasion. We need to be alert in prayer always. We have trials and we should not let the flesh take over. The best means to ensure that the flesh is subordinated is to pray.
In Luke 21:34 a warning is given not to be weighed down in our hearts to the point where we love to indulge in the things of the flesh, to be involved in drunkenness and be caught up with the worries of life. This is because we suddenly find ourselves trapped by these pursuits when Christ returns. In verse 36, the warning to be alert is to be alert at all times, praying to escape the trials that arise before Christ returns.
St Paul’s Warnings
In 1 Cor 16:13 it is St Paul who reminds us to watch and stand firm in the faith and to be strong in it.
In Eph 6:18 the call to be watchful is repeated and we are asked to pray for all Christians.
In Col 4:2 we are asked to watch ourselves in prayer and to do this with thanksgiving.
In 1 Thess 5:6, Paul warns us not to be misled that the last day is far off. He says to be alert and sober as the day of the LORD would overtake us like a thief.
In 2 Tim 4:5 St Paul tells young Timothy to be sober in all things—not most things or a few things but in all things.
St Peter’s Warnings
St Peter also warns us to be sober and to keep ourselves in prayer in a watchful mode because the last day is at hand (1 Pet 4:7).
In the final chapter 5:8 before he closes the same letter, St Peter repeats the warning to be sober, to be vigilant and he says specifically that the devil walks about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.
St John in Revelation
Two similar warnings are recorded in the Book of Revelation. Christ has done a spiritual audit under the microscope of seven churches and warns them in the Spirit of what is expected from them. The church in Sardis is asked to wake up and to strengthen what is left of its walk as it is “dead” (Rev 3:2).
In verse 3, Christ warns the church to retain the gospel and repent. Christ would come as a thief with no advanced warning of His arrival. Then the unrepentant would be dismissed from His Book of Life.
The second warning in the Book of Revelation is in 16:15 just before the great day of GOD Almighty is reported. Here is Christ again speaking to His church and He warns them of His unexpected coming like a thief. The person who is alert and keeps his spiritual covering (Rom 13:14) will not be shamed out of the Kingdom.
We are to be sober, alert and watchful, praying always, looking ahead to the day of the LORD. We are to ensure that we are not contaminated by the world to the point where we have been so far removed from Christ.
It is the love of GOD that controls us (2 Cor 5:14) to live in Him. The love of GOD has no limits. A gradual neglect of our relationship with GOD will eliminate that relationship that we have with Him.
Though we are in the world, we are not of the world (John 17:14-19). Our minds have been transformed (Rom 12:2) and we are not tailored to the world. The priorities, standards and attractions of the world should not draw us away.
Our priority is the spread of the gospel (Acts 1:6-8) and not to just wait for the return of Christ. We have Kingdom work here on earth, now.
Therefore we should ensure that we do not over-indulge in the world and lose sight of the unexpected coming of Christ and miss our mission to evangelise the world.
Prayer is our chief weapon and work that the Holy Spirit is entrusted to help us with (Rom 8:26) in keeping these three related duties:
*to watch, be sober and be alert away from the cares of the world and the devouring devil;
*to look forward to the return of Christ;
*to evangelise the world.
References for pictures