“Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8 RSV).
The history is replete with men and women who had a good starting but a tragic ending. Many people who were very rich and successful in the early part of their life later died in penury and debt. Many people who rose up to a high position of honour and influence in the early part of their life later fell into disrepute.
It is very good to have a graceful starting in life, but it is far better to have a graceful ending. It is simply a tragedy to start well but not finish well in life. Therefore, you need to be sober, watchful and prayerful.
The Scripture does not hide from us sad accounts of some saints of old who started out well with God in the spiritual race but who later backslid, fell out of the race, and could not finish gracefully.
This certainly is not for the purpose of judging, condemning or despising these saints, but for our learning, warning, instruction and admonition.
1 Corinthians 10:
11 Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.
12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. (NKJV).
4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.” (RSV).
While starting well in life may be a gift, requiring no personal input or effort, finishing well in life is not a gift. It requires determination, diligence, soberness, prayer, focus, discipline, and yielding always to the Holy Spirit.
It certainly requires nothing to be born into a noble and wealthy family, but it requires everything to keep the family’s good reputation and wealth. Many children born with a silver spoon in their mouths have died, leaving nothing behind for their children to inherit but debt, disrepute and dishonour.
Likewise, starting the Christian life, journey or race is entirely a free gift of God!
Paul reveals that God “saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.” (2 Tim. 1:9 NKJV).
He further states, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9 NKJV).
However, finishing well the Christian life, race or journey does not entirely depend upon God; you definitely have an active role to play.
While it is absolutely true that you cannot finish well the Christian race in your own strength and wisdom without the indwelling and enabling of the Holy Spirit in your life, yet you cannot finish well the Christian race without you being determined, sober, watchful, prayerful, sensitive and receptive to the warnings, corrections or instructions of the Holy Spirit.
This is why the Lord Jesus warns His disciples to:
41 Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. (NKJV).
36 Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man. (NKJV).
33 Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. (NKJV).
Apostle Paul also admonishes us to:
2 Corinthians 13:
5 Examine yourselves, to see whether you are holding to your faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you? –unless indeed you fail to meet the test! (RSV).
1 Corinthians 16:
13 Be watchful, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. (RSV).
1 Thessalonians 5:
6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. (NKJV).
Examining carefully the lives of the saints of old who suffered the shipwreck of their faith, calling or destiny, it is apparent that they were careless and indiscreet, not sober, not vigilant, not prayerful or watchful. They took the grace of God for granted and made provision for the flesh to fulfil its lusts.
The Bible gives us accurate accounts of their fall and tragic end so that we may learn from them and avoid the same pitfalls (Rom. 15:4, 1 Cor. 10:11). Sadly, many believers today are not learning from them, thereby suffering the same shipwreck of faith.
Beloved, perilous times are here and your adversary the devil still prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (2 Tim. 3:1, 1 Pet. 5:8).
As a believer in Christ you are not expected to live in fear of the devil, be devil-struck, or overly devil-conscious. However, you are expected to be sober, watchful and prayerful lest the devil distracts, derails or devours you.
The Scripture admonishes to be “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Pet. 5:8 NKJV).
Friend, while the Lord Jesus Christ has called you into liberty; however, you must be sober, watchful and prayerful lest you make provision for the flesh to fulfil its lusts and thus fall into the traps of the devil and become ensnared or devoured by the devil, your adversary.
11 See then that the time has come for you to be awake from sleep: for now is your salvation nearer than when you first had faith.
12 The night is far gone, and the day is near: so let us put off the works of the dark, arming ourselves with light,
13 With right behaviour as in the day; not in pleasure-making and drinking, not in bad company and unclean behaviour, not in fighting and envy.
14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not give thought to the flesh to do its desires. (BBE).
13 For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. (NKJV).
It is wisdom to heed these Paul’s admonitions!
Prayer: My Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for calling me into the Christian race. Dear Holy Spirit, teach and strengthen me daily to be sober, watchful and prayerful, making no provision for the flesh or the devil to ensnare or devour me, in Jesus’ name. Amen.