The New Testament is filled with instructions to the Christian to watch, to be attentive, to beware. Paul admonished the Corinthians to “watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong” (I Cor. 16:13). Spiritual alertness must characterize the Christian. But watchfulness is not always easy or popular.
Watchfulness is required to avoid being overcome by temptation. Jesus told his disciples in the garden of Gethsemane, late at night, to “watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41). Paul wrote, “continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving” (Col. 4:2). Brethren, none of us is above any temptation! Vigilance in Bible study and prayer is necessary to overcome. One must constantly be aware of his surroundings, his state of mind, and his weaknesses to avoid being swallowed up in sin. Are you praying and studying as you ought?
Watchfulness is necessary to be prepared for the great judgment day. “Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober” (1 Thess. 5:6). Many today are asleep spiritually and are not ready. For them, that Day will overtake them as a thief. Are you awake and looking forward to the Lord’s return?
Watchfulness is also needed of Christians toward one another. Elders are described as ones who “watch out for your souls, as those who must give account” (Heb. 13:17). Christians are admonished to restore in a spirit of gentleness a brother or sister overtaken in any trespass (Gal. 6:1). How can one perform this duty if he isn’t aware of his brother? “Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:19-20).
Finally, watchfulness is necessary to avoid being overtaken by false teaching. Jesus warned, “Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves” (Matt. 7:15). Paul told the Colossians, “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ” (Col. 2:8). Many today think otherwise – “surely this couldn’t happen today” … “we don’t have these types around today” … “we’ve already dealt with those issues 10 years ago”. So what? The devil is still pushing his agendas and will continue until the end of time. He may dress them under different names and different circumstances, but they are still contrary to sound doctrine and will increase to ungodliness. The apostles couldn’t silence his evil and pernicious doctrines; but they could only, with the word of God, battle him with weapons “mighty in God for pulling down strongholds” (2 Cor. 10:4). “Beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked” (2 Pet. 3:17).
Brethren, be watchful!