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 (A New Life in Christ)
Week 10: Be Watchful
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Week 10: Be Watchful

A guard who falls asleep on duty is negligent of his duty and makes himself vulnerable to the enemy. As Christians, we cannot afford to slumber. Too much is at risk. If we fall asleep spiritually, we will decline in our faith, we will fail to carry out our mission, and we will become Satan’s prey. As the Lord’s servants, if we do not watch, we will be caught by surprise when the Lord comes (cf. ). He will assign us a place with the unbelievers (Lk -46). Since watchfulness is so critical in maintaining our faith and Christian duty, the Lord Jesus emphatically warns his followers, “what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!” (Mk 13:37).

Being watchful means being spiritually awake and focused on your priorities. you are always examining your own faith. It means that you constantly examine yourself to see where your faith stands. Self-examination often occurs in prayer, so prayer and watchfulness go hand in hand (Mt 26:41; Eph 6:18; Col 4:2).

The Bible warns, “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor 10:12). As a maturing disciple, you must learn how to be spiritually vigilant (Mk 13:33-37; Acts 20:31; 1 Cor. 16:13; 1Thess 5:6-8). Being overly confident in your spiritual walk with God can mean certain spiritual failure in your faith.

The apostle Peter, one of Jesus’ closest disciples, was not watchful after Jesus told him to be watchful; instead, Peter fell asleep as Jesus fervently prayed for the strength to drink God’s bitter cup of trials (Mt 26:36-46). As Peter progressed in his faith, he clearly began to better understand the role being watchful played in a Christian’s spiritual walk. So late in his life, Peter warned believers to be watchful of the devil, who is, spiritually speaking, a roaring lion seeking to devour the spiritual life and vitality of Christians (1 Pet 5:8). In this lesson, we shall study the importance of being watchful in our own journey of faith.

Some Basic Principles

Examine All Things Carefully.

An important Biblical principle for being watchful is to test and examine all things carefully, holding fast to what is good (1Thess ). Whether you are examining your actions or motives, you must carefully weigh whether your actions and motives are godly and righteous. Being watchful means you must have the right actions and motives. Remember that God examines your inner heart and motivation, not your outward religiosity or actions (Jer 12:3).

Look Out For Your Weakness.

Being watchful means being wary of your fleshly weaknesses and Satan’s attacks (Mt 26:41; 1 Pet 5:8). To be watchful, you must first understand that you have weaknesses. In times when you feel spiritually weak, you must be extra careful and watchful over your faith because God’s judgment can be just around the corner (Rev 3:2,3; ). Moreover, as Christians, we must be alert and ready for Jesus’ Second Coming (Mk -37).

Be Equipped with the Armor of God.

You are in a spiritual battle, so you must be watchful. The Bible often connects watchfulness with guard duty and battle, but don’t confuse spiritual battle with physical battle. You can’t beat the devil with a bat over the head. It is only by having the right spiritual armor and weapons that you can effectively engage in spiritual warfare. Through constant practice of God’s word and relying on God’s power, we train ourselves to be effective Christian soldiers who can stand firm in the faith (Eph 6:11-18; 1Thess 5:1-9).

Do Not Be Overly Confident.

Remember pride and over-confidence will lead to your spiritual downfall. (1 Cor ). Complacency is one of the leading causes of spiritual stagnancy. When you feel that you know God well enough, or that you have done enough sacred work, that’s the moment when your spiritual growth comes to a standstill. You will remain stagnant until you humble yourself again and seek further progress. The Laodicean church suffered from over-confidence (see -22). Thus the Lord commanded them, “Therefore be zealous and repent” (). They must wake up from their self-conceit, see their spiritual poverty, and restore their fervor.

Self-examination Leads to Repentance.

It was only after Jesus had looked at Peter (when he had already denied him three times) that Peter saw past his outward actions and saw within himself. It was a single look from his suffering master, Jesus, that pierced Peter’s conscience and forced him to look within himself. And it was only after he looked within that he realized how horribly he wronged Jesus by denying his master three times (Lk -62). Still, the Lord Jesus prayed for Peter and was willing to take Peter back after he had repented of his sin (Lk ). Likewise, only after you repent of your sins can you return to God (Lam ).

Watch Out for the Faith of Your Brothers- and Sisters-in-Christ.

Being watchful can include watching out for the faith of other brothers and sisters, in addition to watching out for your own faith (Acts 20:28; Eph 6:18). God’s overseers and holy workers have a special duty to watch over the believers’ faith (Acts ; Heb ). So along this vein, the apostle Paul says in the same breath “bear one another’s burdens” and “bear your own load” (Gal 6:2, 5). The burden Paul speaks of in Galatians chapter 6 may refers to the burden a believer feels living a sinful life. This is the principle: you must examine your own faith and work before you can help uphold another’s faith. Always try to restore the faith of those who are caught in sin versus beating them down (Gal 6:1). So being watchful over yourself can be seen as a prerequisite to being watchful over others. If you can do more self-examining and less outward judging you won’t easily fall into temptation’s trap.

Reflect on Yourself during the Sacraments.

Partaking in holy sacraments at church require serious self-examination, especially or the sacrament of Holy Communion. The Bible teaches you to examine yourself before you partake in the sacrament of Holy Communion (1 Cor ). The principle you can gather from this Biblical teaching is that partaking in the sacraments (through which you partake of Jesus’ life) means you yourself must be holy. That is, to be part of Christ’s body (the church) and to partake of Jesus’ life requires holiness and thus self-examination.

Suggested Guidelines

Constant Self-Examination.

The most practical step in being watchful is to constantly examine yourself. The Bible says, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves” (2 Cor 13:5). So the Bible encourages you to self-examine to see if you are approved in Jesus Christ. Ask yourself some basic questions. Do I still enjoy studying God’s word and prayer as I used to? Do I still have the fervor to serve the Lord? Do I still feel the love for others? Self-examination helps you re-evaluate your relationship with the Lord and discover where you have fallen short. Self-examination also keeps you spiritually alert and prevents you from complacency.

Watch and Pray.

Again, prayer and watchfulness go hand in hand. Prayer is probably the most effective way to self-examine your faith and spiritual conditioning. As you close your eyes in prayer, try to shut out the outside world and look deeply within. Try to focus on your relationship with God and you’ll find out that the self-examination of your faith will be much more effective. There are many ways you can watchfully pray. Pray that God examines you (Ps 26:2). Pray with thanksgiving (Col 4:2). Pray in intercessory prayer for others (Eph ).

Read God’s Word.

The scriptures will become a mirror by which you can see yourself (Jas ). However, you must remember that self-examination means nothing if no action is taken to improve upon what you’ve examined or seen needs improvement (Jas 1: 22, 24).

Keep Track of Your Faith Journey.

Keep a diary or some kind of record of how you view your spiritual condition. Keeping a written record may help force you to examine yourself because you have to put it on paper. The key to this technique is that you have to be very honest in your record keeping (i.e., you have to honestly look at yourself and record what needs improving). Don’t just make false records of how great you are, which could easily become a self-deceiving activity.

Ask Others to Help You. Your brothers- and sisters-in Christ can help you maintain watchfulness in your faith.

The reason it’s good to live and fellowship with other believers (whether it’s family or friends) is that you can encourage and be watchful over one another’s faith. It’s often hard to maintain your spiritual vigilance when you’re all by yourself, which is why it is important to continuously attend Sabbath services and fellowship with other brothers and sisters.

Write down other guidelines that have worked for you.

Write down new ideas that could work for you.


1.      Why is it important for you to be watchful in your journey of faith?

2.      How can you be watchful in your journey of faith?

3.      You need to be constantly aware of your weaknesses and Satan’s attacks if you are to be effective in your watchfulness. T/F

4.      Pride and over-confidence are good tools to being a watchful Christian. T/F

5.      If we’re not watchful of our spiritual condition, we will not know when we should repent of our sins and whether our actions are righteous. T/F

6.      What does watchfulness have to do with the Lord’s coming?

7.      Before we take part in the Holy Communion, we must ____________ ______________.

8.      Prayer and Bible reading are two good practical ways to be watchful in our faith. T/F

9.      How can keeping a diary help you to be watchful?

10.  We must be watchful in our journey of faith (a) once a month (b) once a week (c) once a day (d) every day (e) every minute of every day

Case Studies:

1.      Randy is a fervent believer. In the three years that he has been baptized, he has attended every church service. He prays three times a day, and he reads three chapters of the Bible every day. Over lunch one sabbath day, someone mentioned that Randy should lead their Bible study sessions from now on. Everyone within earshot agreed. “Yeah,” Randy thinks to himself, “I should be in charge. Out of everyone here, I’m the most dedicated and faithful.” He says to the group, “Ok, I accept the position. I’m confident I can do a good job. I want you all to know that I fast and pray every morning, so I’m very spiritually qualified to lead the Bible studies. Mind you, I’ve read the Bible three times over. I sure know it like the back of my hand.” Anna, who was listening intently, tells Randy, “You’re full of it.” Hurt, Randy’s face turns red. Randy decides he won’t come to church anymore. A few weeks later, Randy confronts Anna over the telephone. Flabbergasted, Anna brings her indignation to church. When the brothers and sisters tell her to apologize to Randy, Anna couldn’t believe her ears. That sabbath, Anna decides she too has had enough of church. How could Randy, Anna, and the brothers and sisters have all been more watchful? What do you think about Randy’s faith? How would you counsel Anna, without getting sucked into a vicious cycle?

2.      Rose, is by nature, a very helpful person. When she was newly baptized, many brothers and sisters sought her out when they needed a listening ear. Unfortunately, one by one, they would discover that each time one of them confided in Rose, the whole church would soon hear all about it. Before long, Rose finds that no one needed her ear anymore. Rose is confused. “That’s funny,” she thinks to herself one day. Think about or discuss the role self-examination could play in resolving Rose’s confusion. How could a little more self-examination help Rose’s ministry to other members? Do you see a relationship between self-examination and the efficacy of one’s ministerial work?


1.      One of the practical steps mentioned above was to keep a diary or some kind of record of your spiritual condition. However, remember that the key to effectively gauging your spiritual condition on paper is that you have to be very honest in your record keeping. Try to make a diary entry on your spiritual conditioning at least every two or three days. Think about recent events or decisions in your life that you think God may not have approved of. What is the source of the problem? Why do you think God might not have approved of that event or decision in your life? How can you better the situation and your spiritual conditioning? After you examine the flaws in your situation or spiritual condition, try to do something about it. Remember, being watchful over a bad situation doesn’t mean the situation gets better spontaneously. Unless you do something after examining a bad situation, watching over a bad situation is just that—watching. A palace watchman who sees the enemy attacking the palace and keeps silent is about as useful as a watchman who was asleep.


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Publisher: True Jesus Church