“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” – 1 Peter 5:8 (NLT)
In the NKJV, the Greek word translated here as “stay alert” is actually translated “be sober.” This is a closer translation to the meaning of the original Greek. The Greek word here is nepho (nay’-fo) (see Strong’s G3525). The meaning of the word is “to abstain from wine.” Now clearly in the context of this passage, Peter is not referring to an alcoholic beverage. So why is he telling the believers to be sober, and to abstain from wine?
The abstinence to which Peter is referring is not of literal wine, though abstinence from any alcoholic beverage is a good thing. What Peter is instead referring to is a spiritual thing. He is telling the believers that they need to be sober, clear-minded constantly in their faith. The devil is constantly prowling around, seeking a window of opportunity to pounce on his prey (us, believers). So if he is showing this level of alertness and attention, how much more important is it for us as believers to stay focused?
Jesus told His followers in Matthew 10:16 to “be as shrewd as snakes.” Snakes are cunning. They are patient. They don’t aimlessly strike. Instead, they wait for the perfect opportunity. The same with lions. When they are on the prowl, their prey doesn’t know what’s coming until it is too late. But we as believers have the ability to see the attacks from miles away, if only we would stay focused and sober-minded.
In another place, right before He is arrested, Jesus tells His disciples, “Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!” – Matthew 26:41 (NLT).
Keep watch and pray. Be sober-minded, always alert and aware of what the enemy is doing/attempting to do. Anything less than 100% focus can be detrimental to our souls.