In the New Testament documents, the word Sober is one of those words whose placement is at once quiet and critical. It’s so quietly placed such that is hardly spoken about, and so important that it finds expression in the character description of the believer.
There are largely two words translated as Sober in the New testament. They are Sophron and Nepho. The other words are generally derivatives of the above two words.
What does Sophron mean? It means to be safe/sound in mind. Or to be self-controlled especially in opinion and passion. This is the word that Apostle Paul used in describing the basic requirements for being a Bishop:
1 Timothy 3:2
A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
As believers, God is very interested in our minds and their state. He desires that our minds are safe. He desires that our minds are sound. There are believers who on account of several factors have sustained an unstable mind, a mind that has become a dangerous place, a breeding ground for unguided thoughts. This need not be so. By the word of God and the agency of the Holy Spirit, God is seeking to transform the mind of the believer, bringing it again into alignment, into a designated purpose and Word-controlled state. But for this to be the reality, the intentional submission and participation of the believer are important.
One of the ways the believer does this is to open up his mind to the influence of the word of God, believe the word, and exercise his will in the direction of what the word of God says.
The second word is Nepho, this is also the word from which vigilance comes from. The word Nepho means to abstain from wine. To be discreet. To be circumspect.
I know that here and there people still have questions with respect to believers consuming alcohol and other intoxicating and psychoactive drugs of addiction. Some have gone on to say, the formula is drink but don’t get drunk.
And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
1 Thessalonians 5:6,8
Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.
But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.
In the above two verses, you find a demarcation. You find an us group and an others group. Notice that the Us group are also called as those that are of the day, it is to this us group, whom the writer identifies with and his audience in that day, that he says let us be…sober.
Guess the word used for sober in the above two verses: Nepho.
So simply, I submit that the believer shouldn’t be found in fellowship with anything that can alter his senses and his ability to function with a clear calm mind, discreetly and circumspectly. He should be wary of all such things that alter his perception of reality.
We should protect our minds and always with ready with an alert and prepared mind, a mind that can make sense of what it sees. A mind under the influence of the Holy Spirit and the word of God is an important asset to the believer, for his walk and work will require such.