Have you ever been through a time in your life when you were constantly overtaken by the same sin again and again, not realizing the temptation was there until it was too late? Maybe you’re even struggling with that right now, falling into old habits, not seeing the trap until you’re already caught in it.
What causes this spiritual obliviousness? How can you and I be more alert and aware so that we won’t succumb to a surprise attack from Satan?
In his epistle, Peter talks about three actions we need to take that will help us to change from who we used to be into the people God wants for Himself:
Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:13)
Prepare your minds for action
This phrase literally means “gird up the loins of your mind”. Back when people wore long robes, it was necessary to tuck the robe into their belts in order to run quickly. Peter’s essentially saying, “Roll up your sleeves and get ready to work”. If you’re not expecting to be tempted by sin, you will be caught off guard and fall more easily into the temptation. Peter says later in his letter, “Be sober-minded, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Half the victory is preparing for the battle. What can you do to be ready to combat Satan?
If you’re struggling with impaired judgment and poor decision-making, maybe you’re drunk. And not necessarily on alcohol, though that could be an issue, but maybe on other things that numb you to the reality of God’s truth. What are you “under the influence” of? Think about what you go to for comfort or escape when you’re feeling down. Is it entertainment, sex, food, socializing, etc.? These things can offer temporary relief from pain but do nothing to confront the reality of life, and will only deaden us spiritually. Ephesians 5:15-21 offers the alternative to spiritual inebriation: be filled with the Spirit, sing to God, be thankful, and serve others.
Hope fully on grace
Peter spent the first 12 verses of this chapter writing about the hope that we have because of the grace God has given us, and the grace we’ll continue to receive. Often when we find ourselves falling into the same sins repeatedly, it’s because we have our hope fixed on something other than Jesus and the grace He brings. If your hope is set on landing that promotion at work, or meeting the perfect person, or finally getting approval from someone you admire, then you will make decisions and work hard to bring that hope to realization, no matter the cost spiritually. Examine your behavior and how your emotions are affected by circumstances in your life, and you will begin to see where your hope is truly placed.
When we have our minds set on God’s truth and ready for action, when we remove from our lives influences that impair spiritually, and when we focus on the hope Jesus gives, we will be better prepared to confront the sin that we’re tempted with head on. Peter gives us hope for the battle against sin at the end of the letter:
Resist [the devil], firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you (1 Peter 5:9-10).
By Joshua Lewis