What Does It Mean To Be Sober-Minded?

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

When we get into recovery, we learn about the importance of sobriety and total abstinence. For those of us who have been addicts, we soon learn that there is no middle ground. There is no “moderation” when it comes to the substances or behaviors of choice. In order to live free, we have to live sober.

How Do We Become Sober-Minded People?

It is one thing to be sober—to physically abstain from a substance or behavior. This is essential for recovery, and we are quite serious about it. However, the Bible is not only concerned with our actions or inactions, but with the state of our minds and our hearts. God’s word pushes us further, calling us to be “sober-minded.” What does this mean and how do we become sober-minded people?

Many of us remember learning about sin in church, and we grew up thinking of God like a parent who was just waiting for us to sin. Then we’d be punished. While many of our households may have operated on this basis, God doesn’t. He hasn’t set rules in order to trap us, or because He wants to tempt us to see what we will do or He just doesn’t want us to have any fun in life. God gave us a world to enjoy. He has blessed us with abundant life.

Praying - What Does It Mean To Be Sober-Minded - Christian Drug RehabHowever, although God created a beautiful world, there is sin in this world too. And the guidelines that God has set down are His way of calling us away from sin and into a life of holiness and good fellowship with Him.

Sin separates us from God; holiness draws us near. Thus God, wanting to give us that fellowship, healing and joy, calls us out of sin. Being sober-minded means not only being sober, but being aware of God’s higher calling for our lives. It also means being aware of the sins and temptations that threaten that call.

Being a Christian in recovery is more than just avoiding our addictive substances or behaviors, be they alcohol, cigarettes, food or porn. God is not simply saying, “Do this” and “Don’t do that.” He is calling us to not simply be sober through physically abstaining, but to have sober minds and hearts as well.

“Sober-minded” means dwelling in God’s presence, turning our minds away from the things that make us stumble and turning toward Him instead. It means thinking deeply about our faith and who we are as people before God. It means being deeply introspective and brutally truthful. As it is often said in the 12-step rooms, “The deception of others is nearly always rooted in the deception of ourselves.” Addiction springs from deception, and if we are not honest with ourselves about ourselves, we can easily be led back into it.

As the Apostle Paul says, “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” Our adversary, which can come in the form of our addiction, is always waiting and prowling, seeking to devour us. When we are sober-minded, we don’t play around with our recovery or our faith. We don’t take these gifts for granted. We are called to be watchful and mindful, humble in knowing that we’ve been taken down once by temptation and addiction and that if we don’t stay on our game, it could happen again.

Being Sober-Minded May Make You Feel Out Of Place – But It’s Worth It

Our culture works against us at all points. We love frivolous, trivial things. We avoid that which is challenging, painful and difficult, even if it might bring great reward. When serious matters are brought up, we hear “Lighten up, don’t be so serious.” When we speak of the importance of our commitment to sobriety, we hear things like, “Can’t you have just one?” or “You’re no fun.” Our culture values fun and comfort more than the hard but rewarding roads of faith and recovery. Thus if we are sober-minded, we may feel a little out of place. We may question if we are making too big a deal of things or if we are too serious.

It’s important to remember that those outside of recovery are not likely to understand all we need to do to stay there. That’s OK—we can’t expect them to. We must bravely remember that our path and our need to be both sober and sober-minded may not be popular, but it is the path that is right for us. Thus we remain vigilant, we remain watchful, we strengthen our faith and our program daily, and we stay the course.