I Peter 4:7-11 “But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. Use hospitality one to another without grudging. As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”
There are subtle truths often missed by the casual observer; one such truth is that preparation must begin privately before it can be communicated publicly; one must privately become what one hopes to publicly practice! Peter addresses his audience personally about their attitude before he addressed their actions; “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). The believer that fails to conquer the man will never effectively contribute to the ministry; an accomplishment that can only be achieved by the means of the cross! Peter knew that if one is going to conquer the man, the conquest must begin in the mind! Armed with the confident expectation of the Lord’s return, a spiritual beachhead is established within the mind that is the beginning of taking back territory conquered and corrupted by the world, the flesh, and the devil.
Peter develops two thoughts in verse 7 with respect to this inward preparation. I would like to give some consideration to first; a sober state, “be ye therefore sober.” The word “sober” means to be of sound mind or in right mind, to be moderate so as to avoid extremes or lessen the intensity, to be serious or solemn. It produces a state of self-control in which one is mentally sound and emancipated from distractions or panic. A proper perspective of a sober state can be seen in the account of the man possessed with the legion of devils in the country of the Gadarenes in Mark 5 and Luke 8. Mark described the mans possessed state thus; “Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains: Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones” (Mark 5:3-5). I think it would be safe to say that the man lacked self-control and was given to a volatile state of distractions and panic. While this may not describe your earthly residence, “dwelling among the tombs”, it is a detailed description of your emotional residence, “neither could any man tame him”; a volatile state in which you contend with being “double minded” (see James 1:8), easily manipulated by social and sinful distractions that lead to spiritual volatility when confronted with the expectations of the Word. You’re momentarily bound and restrained by the fretters of truth that seem to permit you to tarry among the land of the living; only to fall victim to the distractions of the flesh; deadening the spirit and replacing peace with panic. Thank God the cure is the coming of Christ; we find the man “sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind” (Mark 5:15). Is this not a state of self-control in which one is mentally sound and emancipated from distractions or panic? This sober state is only obtained when the Christ occupies a preeminent place in our minds. Expectation leads to emancipation!