What does it mean to be sober minded?

Aug 13
Sober young man

In the book of Mormon, within the Book of Mormon, the ten year-old boy named Mormon was approached by the prophet Ammaron. Mormon was just receiving his education in the ways and language of his people, but Ammaron saw something special about this child. He approached the young child and said:

I perceive that thou art a sober child, and art quick to observe.”

“Therefore, when ye are about twenty and four years old I would that ye should remember the things that ye have observed concerning this people; and when ye are of that age go to the land Antum, unto a hill which shall be called Shim; and there have I deposited unto the Lord all the sacred engravings concerning this people.”​

Surely, Ammaron also received revelation from God to confirm this choice. Mormon was foreordained to a special mission and blessed with these gifts.

Basic Definitions of Sober

When we hear the word sober, we typically think of abstaining from alcohol, but there are a number of other meanings that pertain to gospel traits. From Webster’s 1828 dictionary, some of the words and phrases used to define this word are:

  • Temperate
  • ​having the regular exercise of cool dispassionate reason​
  • ​Regular; calm; not under the influence of passion
  • Serious; solemn; grave​

In Greek, the word for sober is νήφω (Pron: nēphō) and means discrete, calm and collected in spirit, watchful.

Another Greek word translated as sober is σωφρονέω and is sometimes translated as being in your right mind, or of sound mind. Which might be a way of saying, “quick to observe.”

You can easily find these terms using Scripture Notes by doing a search for:


Then when you see a New Testament verse, click the link button on the right, select Blue Letter Bible, then click “Strong’s” at the top to reveal the Strong’s links. Click the one by the variation of the word sober.

Situational Awareness

In the world of police and security, there are 4 levels of situational awareness taught. It’s called “Cooper’s colors” after an officer that created this system. It’s not to make you paranoid, but give you guidance on how to be aware and advance logically in a situation.

  • White: Relaxed and unaware. Ideally this only happens when we’re sleeping.
  • Yellow: Relaxed but aware of what’s happening around you. You’re paying attention and noticing things like who is around you.
  • Orange: Elevated state when you detect something of interest and you are determining if there is a threat or not.
  • Red: You have identified that there is a threat and you are now focused on the target.

We should strive to be in a yellow state all the time. Aware, observant, and prepared.

Why? Peter warned us about the enemy.

1 Peter 5:8. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:​

We certainly don’t want to be in an unaware state and let the devil sneak up on us.

Paul taught us how to prepare for the day. He tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:8.

​8. But let us, who are of the day, be soberputting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.​

In Ephesians 6, Paul describes the full elements of the armor and weapons of God we should take to be prepared each day.

Paul also uses other terms to describe the sober minded state.

1 Tim. 3:11. Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.​

Grave being serious minded, a synonym for sober.

Titus 2:2. That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.​

Sound in faith, having studied and prepared so we cannot be led astray by the devil’s doctrines and deceptions.

Sober in Action

We see these characteristics in the Sons of Helaman, the Lamanite stripling warriors.

Alma 53:20-21. And they were all young men, and they were exceedingly valiant for courage, and also for strength and activity; but behold, this was not all—they were men who were true at all times in whatsoever thing they were entrusted.​

​21. Yea, they were men of truth and soberness, for they had been taught to keep the commandments of God and to walk uprightly before him.​

Walking uprightly and being true to the faith are characteristics of soberness.

Sober does not mean walking around without a sense of humor. An appropriate sense of humor helps us deal with the challenges of life.

To me a sober mind means watchful, careful with our thoughts and words, being meek, mild, and temperate. Being aware and observant to the things around you as well as of the Spirit.

What are the blessings of having a sober mind?

We know one of the blessings these Sons of Helaman received was divine protection through their faith.

A sober mind also has a powerful effect upon the soul to bring about the right state of mind to have revelation, even the ultimate revelation. Peter tells us:

1 Peter 1:13. Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;​

The loins of your mind are the seedbed, or your thoughts. If we plant doubt, doubt will grow. If we plant faith and belief, we will grow that fruit. Being sober, serious minded, and sound in faith, bring us a mental stability that makes our mind firm. Not rigid, but firm and unshakable. This grows our hope in the promises of God and brings revelation after revelation until we have the ultimate revelation, the visitation of Jesus Christ revealing himself to us.

This revelation will come in the Lord’s own way, and his own time. The scriptures are clear on this and we see examples of it in the scriptures.

Mormon 1:15. And I, being fifteen years of age and being somewhat of a sober mindtherefore I was visited of the Lord, and tasted and knew of the goodness of Jesus.​

The scriptures promise these experiences are available to those who overcome unbelief and live by the sacred formulas the Lord has defined that allow for these blessed experiences.

In modern times, the Lord revealed to the new elders of his church a similar marvelous promise.

D&C 67:10. And again, verily I say unto you that it is your privilege, and a promise I give unto you that have been ordained unto this ministry, that inasmuch as you strip yourselves from jealousies and fears, and humble yourselves before me, for ye are not sufficiently humble, the veil shall be rent and you shall see me and know that I am—not with the carnal neither natural mind, but with the spiritual.​

This is truly a sobering realization. Further down he acknowledged they were not ready for this yet.

​13. Ye are not able to abide the presence of God now, neither the ministering of angels; wherefore, continue in patience until ye are perfected.

Then the clincher.

​14. Let not your minds turn back; and when ye are worthy, in mine own due time, ye shall see and know…

This is part of having a sober mind. Once you put yourself on the path, don’t look back. Be alert for deception, stay strong, and look with hope for the revelation of Jesus Christ to confirm your soul.



About the Author

Oak Norton - Just trying to share a love of the scriptures with others.