“But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that l write unto you. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for a helmet, the hope of salvation.” l Thessalonians 5:1, 8 (NKJ)
Believers are privileged to enjoy a special relationship with God as a result of Christ’s work of redemption. Being justified (made righteous) by faith, we now have peace with God (Rom. 5:1) and are adopted as sons (Gal. 4:5-7)—sons of light and sons of the day. ln last week’s teaching, we exhorted believers to live each day as if Christ would return at any moment. Believers know that the Day of the Lord is coming. So how are we to live as we wait for Christ’s return?
As children of the light, we are to live soberly. To be sober means “self-controlled and clear-headed.” The literal Greek rendering of sober is “l am well-balanced” and free from the influences of intoxicants.
Intoxicants are anything that impairs a person’s thinking or judgment. Intoxicants are not limited to alcoholic beverages but can include people, relationships, or habits. To be sober is used metaphorically of “alertness” and “watchfulness.” Believer would be well advised to live self-controlled, well-balance lives while avoiding those things that impair their thinking (1 Pet. 4:7; 5:8).
To help the church at Thessalonica “live soberly” while waiting for Christ’s return, Paul recommends two critical pieces of armor–a breastplate and a helmet. While defensive in nature, they are designed to protect two key areas of the believer–their heart and their mind. Paul uses language reminiscent of Ephesians 6 where he describes the proper attire for waging war against “principalities and powers, rulers of darkness, and spiritual host of wickedness.”
A soldier’s breastplate covered him from his neck to his waist and protected most of his vital organs. That is what the breastplate of faith and love does for the believer. Faith, our belief in the Risen Christ, guards our heart from error. Love protects our relationship with God and with others. lf one loves God, he will also love other people (1 John 4:20-21). Faith and love cannot be separated.
The helmet, representing the hope of salvation, guards the believer’s head from attacks on their thinking. The believer’s hope lies in knowing that they are delivered from any future wrath from God (Rom.5:8-9). “For God hath not appointed us (believers) to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.”(1 Thess.5:9). God’s wrath is reserved only for the children of disobedience (Eph. 5:6).
As believers wait for Christ’ return, we are to “be sober and adequately armed.” Waiting is not characterized by idle pursuits or wasteful self-indulgence. Instead our life should reflect an attitude of joyful anticipation as we prepare for the Second Advent of Christ. Our work of ministry should include passionate evangelizing, expansive outreach, and an outpouring of love to the disenfranchised and brokenhearted. We are to remember both our heritage and our future. We are to live as children of the Light.