About the indispensability of sobriety in battle against the devil
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
Orthodox monks have elevated sobriety and vigilance to the status of mortification. The spirit must be sober in order to sense danger and vigilant in order to recognize from which side the danger is coming and from whom.
My child, be vigilant that you do not tread on a serpent, that you do not fall into a pit, that you do not encounter a wolf, that you do not step out into deep water, that you do not stray from the path and get lost in the forest! Thus a mother counsels her child, fearing for his body. With no less love does the Church counsel a man, fearing for his soul. Therefore children, “be sober, be vigilant.” Your old adversary the devil does not rest nor sleep but, similar to a hungry lion, stalks and seeks whomsoever he can devour. “Be sober, be vigilant,” for you are as sheep and he is as a lion. When sheep sense the foul odor of the wolf, they flee to their shepherd. Therefore, “be vigilant” all of you and sense the foulness of the devil when he approaches you and flee immediately under the wings and protection of your shepherd, Christ the Lord. And You will sense the odious smell of the devil through your thoughts, through your feelings, through your intentions and through your passions of the flesh. All that you would have thought, imaged, felt, intended and desired contrary to Christ and the Law of Christ, know that that is the snare of the devil, the foulness of the devil know that and flee to your Shepherd directing your entire mind and all your heart and all your soul and body to Him.
O Lord Jesus, our Sober and Vigilant Shepherd, make us “sober and vigilant” at every moment so that our enemy will not surprise us and devour us.
To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.
From the Prologue of Ochrid, by St. Nikolai Velimirovitch