“Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy” (1 Pet. 1:13-15)
Be alert and sober. Or as another translation says, “prepare your mind for action.” These are both paraphrases of what Peter literally says: “Gird up the loins of your mind!” (I think I’m happy for the paraphrase!)
This is an Advent-specific passage, in that it deals with preparing ourselves for the coming of Christ. I don’t know about you, but I find being spiritually alert during the holidays to be uniquely difficult. I tend to cut myself all kinds of slack, knowing that my New Year’s resolutions are right around the corner – when I can diet again, exercise again, be spiritual again… until then, I let the loins of my mind go ungirded.
Peter, and Luther, say no. Especially during Advent! Jesus Christ is going to be revealed at His coming! And we are eagerly awaiting that coming (that’s what Advent is all about). So – what should we be doing in the meantime? We are called to be alert. Sober. Prepared. Girded. Ready.
Luther makes this bold statement: “To be sober is the chief part of faith.” You see, a life based on faith doesn’t just happen. You have to have Biblical truth impressed on you by the Spirit, pray over your actions, align your will with the will of God, and step out in righteousness. You’ve got to be sober-minded to live this life.
But, once we become a Christian, isn’t obedience easy? Hardly. Again, Luther:
“When man through faith becomes at once justified, he is not yet entirely free of evil desires. Faith has indeed commenced to bring the flesh into subjection; but it still continually bestirs itself and rages at times in all kinds of lust, which would gladly again be experienced and act according to their own will. Therefore the Spirit has to work daily to bridle and suppress lust, to slay it thus without intermission … wherever faith is true and pure, it must attack the body and hold it, as it were, with a bridle!”
This doesn’t happen if there’s no sobriety. And there is simply never a time to let up. Satan doesn’t slow down his activity, just because it’s the holidays. Rather, I sense he’s about some of his most diabolical schemes during these weeks.
I feel it even as I’m typing this. I sense that you’re thinking the same as you read. “C’mon…its Christmas! Can’t we just relax?”
“Hold fast to the treasure of the Gospel now, and place your trust in it with all your affections, so that yours may be a true faith and not a painted or devised fancy and dream … It must not be a lazy and sleepy faith or dream, but a living and active thing!”
Now that’s practicing Advent. Keep the faith!
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