4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. 8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, (1 Thessalonians 5:4–9, NKJV)
Christians (children of God) are children of the day. Therefore, we are to live watchfully and soberly in the light of truth. The contrast to the inebriation of darkness is easy to understand. Being “of the day” (v. 8) means living soberly in faith, love, and the hope of salvation we have in Jesus Christ. Yet, more and more Christians are partaking in the less than sober practice of drinking intoxicants. Defending “social drinking” of intoxicating beverages as a Christian’s liberty embraces the very thing Paul used to warn us against losing our spiritual alertness. Rather than justify the incremental loss of self-control and the corresponding loss of sharpness, we must refuse even the beginning of this activity associated with darkness (Eph. 5:18; 1 Pet. 4:3).
And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, (Ephesians 5:18, NKJV)
Christians are to fill themselves with the Spirit, not with wine and its riotous excess. We do so by putting His word, the word of Christ, into our hearts and lives (Col. 3:16). Yet, a growing number of Christians justify the moderate consumption of intoxicating beverages. I wonder, do they also advocate for only being moderately filled with the Holy Spirit? If just a little alcohol is okay (as long as you don’t get drunk), then it follows that only a small amount of the Spirit in your life is okay (as long as you are not full of the Holy Spirit). Absurd? Absolutely. But, that is the consistent application of Ephesians 5:18 and the logical extension of the reasoning that promotes moderate alcohol consumption. The apostle contrasts being filled with wine and being filled with the Spirit. The fact that God’s word condemns drunkenness does not mean the drinking that leads to drunkenness is acceptable. The Scriptures must show it to be good, not merely asserted to be good (1 Thess. 5:21-22). Other passages teach us to be sober-minded, to use sound judgment, and to exercise self-control (Gal. 5:23; Titus 2:2, 6, 12). Consuming alcohol deconstructs and destroys these qualities the Spirit teaches us to possess. How can that be good? Drinking alcohol satisfies the desires of the flesh, but it is inconsistent with the mind of Christ and being filled with the Spirit of God (1 Pet. 4:1-4; Rom. 8:9-14).
24 Now as he thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!” 25 But he said, “I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason.” (Acts 26:24–25, NKJV)
Paul was permitted to speak before King Herod Agrippa II (his consort Beatrice, and the Roman governor Festus) for himself in answer to the charges made against him by the Jerusalem Jews (Acts 26:1-3). He spoke of “the hope of the promise made by God” to their fathers (Acts 26:6). He spoke of God raising the dead, of his former persecution of Christians, and of how Jesus of Nazareth appeared to him (Acts 26:8-17). He spoke of Jesus sending him to the Gentiles with His gospel, of his conversion, and of obeying his mission (Acts 26:18-20). Paul said this was why the Jews seized him and falsely accused him – because he testified that Jesus fulfilled Moses and the prophets, bringing forgiveness and light to both Gentiles and Jews (Acts 26:21-23). Festus accused Paul of being insane to believe in things like resurrection, visions, redemption, and a Christ (anointed One). Far from insanity, the gospel Paul preached contains words of truth and reason (“soberness,” ASV). Some still say the gospel is crazy, and Christians are “mad.” Yet, the gospel remains true, upright, and certain. It is still sober, sane, and rational. Name-calling and demonizing its messengers will not lessen the gospel’s truth or its power to save. Honest souls continue to be persuaded and saved (Acts 26:26-29; 18:8; Lk. 8:15).
6 Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded, 7 in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, 8 sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you. (Titus 2:6–8, NKJV)
Christians, young and old, are to be sober in our thinking, controlling our impulses, refusing to be doctrinally careless and morally shameful in our conduct. Alcohol comes to mind as that which hinders being sober-minded and temperate. Although drinking alcohol is quite common in the world (and condoned by an increasing number of Christians), it renders one intemperate and irreverent rather than a godly pattern of good works, moderation, and soundness. The Bible says wine a “mocker” and strong drink is turbulent, and to err thereby is not wise (i.e., foolish, Prov. 20:1). To take the first drink begins to decrease soberness, and left to run its course produces drunkenness (a work of the flesh, Gal. 5:21). How can the first drink of alcohol (which starts the process of intoxication) be wise, when it leads to such foolishness? Without the first drink, one does not get drunk (1 Pet. 4:3). We cannot conclude from Scripture that social drinking is sober-minded conduct – a “pattern of good works” that shows integrity, reverence, and incorruptibility (v. 7). Refuse the mind-altering effects of alcohol by refusing the first drink. In this way, you answer God’s call to be sober-minded and an example of good works in all things.
8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. 11 Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:8–11, NKJV)
Paul returns to soberness as he exhorts Christians (sons of light, sons of the day) to live so as to seize and preserve the salvation to which we have been appointed. It is necessary to protect ourselves from sin with faith, love and hope as we live for Him who died for us. Wrath is appointed for those who indulge themselves in the darkness of sin, choosing to reject the richness of God’s salvation for the futility of the flesh. Christians prepare for Christ’s return by living soberly. We are strengthened and comforted by the assurance of the eternal salvation to be obtained when Christ returns (2 Thess. 2:14; Heb. 10:39; 1 Pet. 1:6-9). You will never find comfort in the darkness of sin. Come out of your sin and live for Jesus. When He returns, Christians will live together with Him forevermore. If you are a faithful Christian, whether you are alive or dead on that day will make no difference. The difference will be whether you lived soberly in the light of truth and obtain salvation, or in the darkness of sin and obtain wrath.
5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. (1 Thessalonians 5:5–7, NKJV)
The return of the Lord will not overtake Christians suddenly and unexpectedly, because we “are not in darkness” (1 Thess. 5:4). Paul uses light and day to describe the moral readiness of Christians concerning the coming of Jesus. What does it mean to be “sons of light” and “sons of the day?” The gospel called us out of sin’s darkness (1 Pet. 2:11). By the redemption we have in Christ we have been delivered from the power of darkness and conveyed into the Son’s kingdom (Col. 1:13). We used to live in the darkness of sin, “but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light” (Eph. 5:8). Darkness and night describe the moral slumber of living in sin. Just as we are unaware of our surroundings in sleep, the darkness of night gives cover to sin and its excesses. We must refuse to be lulled to sleep by the enticements of sin. Let us live vigilantly in truth and righteousness, abstaining from everything that intoxicates the mind and soul. Sons of light are sober, diligently living with self-control and not indulging the flesh with sin. That is why sons of light are ready for the Lord’s return. Walk in the light of truth, not in the darkness of sin (1 Jno. 1:5-10). Be ready of His return.
8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. (1 Peter 5:8-9, NKJV)
Peter has just assured us that the Lord constantly cares for us as we cast our cares upon Him (1 Pet. 5:7). While doing so we must be sober-minded and watchful. The devil is stalking us. Every temptation to sin must be met with the stiff and steady resistance of faith. The devil continues to look for the weak lamb and the straying sheep. We must constantly be on guard lest he slip up on us and overtake us. It helps us to know that our brethren in other places face the same kinds of threats we face. Resistance is not futile; Faith is the victory that overcomes the world (1 Jno. 5:4).