Thursday, April 04, 2013

Ladies Bible Class Today : What Does the Bible Mean by the Word "Sober"?

Reading the Letter
by P. Kraemer 

Thursday is still here for a few more hours, so before too many of the details slip my mind, I would like to share the Ladies Bible Study that we participated in today.

While we normally pick up where we left off in our Bible reading, and discuss what we read, I have, for the last month, been presenting word-study topics. One was on "refinement: and another on "discretion."  Today, we had a wonderful search through the scriptures on the meaning of the word "sober" which is often found in the Bible.  

Arriving Home
by Newell Wyeth

While most moderns would automatically define the word sober as "not drunk,"  the Bible uses it to mean something of a spiritual nature.

Of course, we already kmow from our studies that a Christian should not drink "strong drink" (alcohol) and should always be sober in that respect. 

  Because of the modern expression "sober," as in "I guess he's sober today," meaning, "not drinking alcohol",  it is important to understand exactly what the Bible means by the word.  While it applies to everyone, and also to the problem of drinking,  the ladies Bible class today discussed sobriety as it relates to the conduct of Christian women.

“Sober” is translated from the Greek word that means to be sober, calm and collected, to have good sense, good judgement, wisdom, and level-headed in times of stress.

We can use the modern comparison between drunkenness and sobriety, as an example.

A drunken person does not have good judgement, is often angry, is not alert, paying attention only to personal desires, regardless of consequences to others.

Older women are to practice a pure and holy life, "...that they may teach the young women to be sober..." Titus 2:4

To be sober in this context means to be serious-minded.  Without ever having touched a drop of liquor or "spirits" as it once was called, a woman can still lack the qualities of refinement, discretion and serious-mindedness.  When these characteristics are lacking, a woman can seem silly, giddy, mocking, and cynical, which are often the same characteristics as someone who is under the influence of alcohol.

Pensive Thoughts
by Sydney Muschamp

Sobriety means to be intelligent, understanding and considerate.  If a woman is under the influence of the world's silly talk or impure conversation, she lacks sobriety. 

Guarding one's thoughts is also part of being sober. Avoid innuendos and suggestive remarks which lead the minds of others to think of things that are "done in the dark." (Ephesians 5)  Avoid filthy, coarse jesting and foolish talking.

Now that we have some awareness of what a sober woman is, should we act as though we are sour and depressed and overly serious?  I think that would defeat our purpose of drawing people to Christ. The Word of God emphasizes that a God's people should be happy, but true happiness comes from living in compliance with God's Will. 

Is it really necessary to be so particular about the way we think, speak and act?  I think it is, because of the impression that it makes on other people concerning Christ.  There is a poem that describes why a Christian's behavior is so important. Think of it in terms of a Christian woman:

There's a Gospel according to Matthew; To Mark;

To Luke; and John too.
There's another gospel that many are reading...
The Gospel according to You.

All teachings we find in the Bible

Are facts we know to be true;
You must live them to make them the Gospel...
The Gospel according to You

Many read not the words of the Bible;
I will tell you what some of them do...
They are reading the book you are writing...
The Gospel according to you.

There's Great Power In Gospel Preaching
The Bible teaches that this is true.
But the sermon most likely to influence others
Is The Gospel according to You.

God help us to be faithful to Jesus...
To live all His teachings so true,
So that all may see His Spirit
In the Gospel according to You.

You are writing a gospel, a chapter each day;
By things that you do; By things you say.
Others read that gospel, whether faithless or true!
Say! What is the Gospel According To You?
Leroy Brownlow

A sober, or serious-minded woman, will always be aware that her life has in influence for good or ill, on others, and if bad, can bring reproach upon her family and the church.  If good, it can bring others closer to the kingdom. If a woman is serious-minded, she will be more able to be a keeper at home and guide her children spiritual and physically. A sober woman will be alert to the affect of her actions and words on her own future and that of her family. Being naïve or simple-minded, or having thought-habits that tend toward the risqué, can become a danger to her and her family in many ways.  There is a reason that the word "sober" in reference to serious-mindedness, is used so many times in the Bible.

Added 2019:

Today's alcohol is fortified with an ingredient that makes it more powerful, and it is especially harmful to women. It does no harm to stay completely away from it. There are many articles available now showing the harm that alcohol is doing to women. In order to be sober, it is not wise to take even one drink.

The point is, we should not speak as those who are under another influence, without self-control. "Telling all" is not always appropriate or edifying, depending on the company.  A close personal friend may be the recipient of all honesty, but such talk will not always be advisable in some groups.

Please research for yourself here and other places:



Bible Fun For Kids said...

Very good article! Loved the poem by Leroy Brownlow! Thanks for sharing at R 16:16.

Anonymous said...

I am enjoying this series on Bible words a lot. It gives me something to contemplate during the day, that is worthwhile and can build my character. I want to be a better role model for my children than what I had growing up, and sometimes it is hard to know where to start. By focusing on one word or concept, it isn't overwhelming, but it can make a profound improvement in character to consider these things.

Yvette said...

Thank you so much for this! I hope you will be doing more word studies like these. I have been looking back at some previous posts you have done on others. It has been so helpful in my own personal Bible study.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your point about living sober lives and having sober thoughts. Indeed we must take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ as stated in 2Cor.10:5.

That is why a quiet time with the Lord is so important first thing in the morning. It sets the tone of the day and when praying, asking the Lord for his guidance and putting on the armor first thing in the morning, satan has little opportunity to whisper folly in our ear.

Thank you for sharing.

Mrs. J.

Anonymous said...

Oh I love this....I hope you'll continue to share these word studies with us.

Lydia said...

I think sobriety also means not asking questions that pry into privacy of a person. Sometimes people are very sensitive about personal things, like what their children are doing, and where they are going on holiday, etc. I know in this era of facebook some people are astonished that there are those who want to keep their business to themselves, but this is one thing we discussed in that class. It isnt right to expose people's problems, either, especially if they want to keep it quiet. You would not ask a person, "WHat ever happened to your daughter? The last time I heard, she had run away. Is she still with the same group?" There is nothing abnormal about keeping things quiet and maintaining privacy.

Anonymous said...

Thank you ever so much for doing these studies. We all need to reevaluate our demeanor and learn how to live the Christian life. Little things we do can mean the difference in how we are perceived by the world. I heard someone say a long time ago that if you have a fish on your car you better act like a Christian should as people will be looking at you to see. A sobering thought. Now that our children are grown they keep telling us of the lessons we have taught them without even saying a word. We all tell a story of what is important in our lives as we go about every day in our lives. You never know who is looking and learning. I value coming here and reading what you have posted and learning and sharing with the other ladies that come here. Sarah

living from glory to glory said...

Hello, I really think you have a great gift of teaching. I also believe your study on being sober was very good. And yes we too often equate sober to the use of alcohol. Being sober is definitely about our character and the way we speak and respond.
Blessings, Roxy

Lydia said...

Yes, Roxy, Christian women can be non-sober even if they have never been under the influence of strong drink.

Anonymous said...

What a good reminder about Christian character. It is interesting to me the way that the English language changes. Because of the changes in the word sober, my NASB uses the word "sensible".

Mrs. V. said...

Lady Lydia, I really love this post. I think teaching on this particular subject is too far apart and few in between. I think being sober in the Biblical sense needs to be taught more often, especially to women. Thank you for writing this post.

Unknown said...

my question is this, how can a man be sober/serious and not become sour, harsh or even over serious, i have tried to be sober but i find myself being too serious or even harsh,please how can i get it right

Lydia said...


If you think of "sober" as being "not drunk" you will find the answer. In fact, the New Testament says "be not drunk with wine, but be filked with the Spirit". We know that drunk people seem happy but they are aimless and forgetful and lacking in purpose and focus. Being "filled with the Spirit" means to have the love of God and the happiness and joy it brings by living carefully and seriously. Serious does not mean lacking in love or being unhappy.

The Spirit of the Word of God is a happiness that comes from putting aside the silly live-for-the-moment partying ( usually accompanied by alcohol or a blantant disregard for your soul) and having a deep personal happiness that comes from living peacefully.

Your concern is "how can I be serious without being gloomy and harsh?" Being sober is a life of happiness and deep personal satisfaction, (usually accompanied by smiles and innocent laughter ) instead of the silly, non-edifyng ridiculouness that comes from not taking life seriously. When you live the life of loving the good, the pure and the lovely, you will have a deep abiding happiness and contentment (not a harshness) even when there are troubles.

We can have laughter, and it is very important for our health and spiritual relationship with God and others, but it should be more like little children, not like the worldliness and vice that goes on around us.

We should actually be happier than the people who party all the time, because we wont have to pay the price later, and we are sowing good things.

It may take some study on the subject, but you could do a Bible word search on laughter and joy verses harshness.

9:24 AM Delete

Lydia said...

Picture a grandparent who is happy and smiling but still has a deep seriousness of life.

Lydia said...

Silliness is surface and shallow, whereas happiness is deep and sincere.

Bill said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bill said...

Romans 12:3 talks about thinking soberly....would it be possible that this soberly has nothing to do with alcohol but the actual
Word of God? Phillipians 4:8 ...Paul encourages us on how to think? What if ..if your thoughts/thought pattern doesnt align with the word of God or how born again Christian is supposed to think then we are not thinking soberly..cos we know that we cant
control what thoughts come knocking at the door but we can choose which thoughts to open the door Mrs J put it"take everyy thought captive in Jesus name"...and as our behaviour as well..does that make sense???

Lydia said...

“Sober” is translated from the Greek word that means to be sober, calm and collected, to have good sense, good judgement, wisdom, and level-headed in times of stress.

I believe the association with alcohol was created quite some time after the Bible was written and came to mean the opposite of drunkenness.

Unknown said...

Like your article on sober mindedness. Isaiah 30:15 quietness and in confidence shall be your strength...

Lydia said...

The original Greek means serious minded, not silly. The context does imply not to be drunk, because naturally, drinking causes loss of judgement and causes silly behaviour, so it wouldn't be out of line to apply it to drinking.

We who don't drink have been taught that one drink can make you drunk, just one drink-drunk. And it is like the temperature thermometer you have in your house. When it gets warmer, the temperature dial rises. So one drink, and your dial is up, two drink is more. It works like a thermometer measuring the amount as the person begins drinking. Each drink causes more loss of judgement so how could a person tell when they are inebriated or not? They would lose some ability to judge it after only the first drink.

However I go back to the original definition of the word sober. It meant to be level headed and serious minded. Of course that would also mean you wouldn't have a drink of alcohol , as that would impair the mind and you would't be as clear headed.

Unknown said...

Word sober stood out to me this morning from 1 Peter, 5:8. I look word up & whole new revelation was open up to me when I came about your wisdom of sober. Truly blessed me, God revealed many things about me in hindsight. Thank you for sharing.

Lydia said...

Curious Christian: I have addressed drinking alcohol and the connection to drunkenness on several posts and in videos. If you’d like to email me : I’d be happy to explain again. Basically if you have one drink, you are on your way to becoming drunk. That is the only way to drunkenness. One drink is “ one-drink-drunk”. Each sip leads to the state of drunkenness but also each sip is a fraction of the drunkenness, adding up.  Hence the term "One-drink-drunk". The Pharisees accused Christ of “ sitting with wine bibbers" but not of actually drinking. The wine in those days was always served with water to dilute it. There was a difference between that and “ strong” drink that was grape juice fermented. Grape juice was called “ wine” even while it was still in the grape. Today’s wine is fortified with alcohol. Anyone can justify drinking, using all the Bible references , such as “ take a little wine for your stomach sake” but a little honest history research shows it was not the same as the alcohol that is served today, which is not a naturally fermented drink. if you are just trying to justify “drinking “ you can always find a way to do so. The Bible says it is not wise. Who would want to be foolish on purpose? There were religious people at the time of the Bible that were strictly forbidden to drink alcohol at all. At the Lord's Table in the New Testament times after the resurrection when the Lord's Supper was observed, the wine was diluted with water before being served. If anyone thinks they are okay in drinking, would they be willing to do it Biblically and mix the alcohol with water to dilute the effects of it?

Unknown said...

It's good to know the meaning of sober

Unknown said...

And it was clearly strong enough to get Noah drunk the bible speaks of this

Lydia said...

Comments are now closed on this post. Please email me if you want to post anything further on the subject: