And this do, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. (Romans 13:11)
For this reason it says, "Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you." (Ephesians 5:14)
"Keep watching and praying, that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." (Matthew 26:41)
These Scriptures exhort us to rise from the spiritual sleep that exists when we become carnally minded. Jesus tells us to be watchful. The passages aren't addressing those dead in their sin of unbelief, or to believers who willfully practice sin. They speak to listless Christians who fall asleep because they feel secure. They prompt us to go forward carefully, with our eyes upon the Lord, ever watching for His direction.
"He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6:8)
Those of us not humble before God and not watchful for His direction, begin but make no progress. We put our hand to the plow, but we look back (Luke 9:62). We have the appearance of godliness but we deny the power thereof (2 Timothy 3:5).
We physically go out from Egypt, but our hearts go back. We feel secure because we have our salvation, but we don't fear God; we become hardened, irreverent, without feeling. We don't feel the need for repentance; therefore, we don't feel the need for mercy. We certainly don't feel the need to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12).
Scripture tells us to arise, to shake loose our apathy. To attempt to stand still on God's way, is to go backward. To go forward means to begin anew over and over. God brings us to the end of one thing and the beginning of another. It is not His way to leave us in a state of rest for long periods of time. He is like the mother eagle who makes the nest uncomfortable for her young so they are forced to learn how to fly.
"so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober. For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night. But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Thessalonians 5:6-9)
The word "night" denotes spiritual night, which is evil. To sleep in this sense means to pay no attention to the eternal. Sleepers are indifferent toward the eternal because they are concerned about temporal things. They are awake only to the temporal.
Spiritual day is faith, and spiritual night is unbelief. Works of darkness are the works of those of us asleep in the spirit, but awake to the attractions of the world. Works performed by spiritually asleep Christians appear to be good works, but they are evil because of the inner darkness of the doer. They are not done in faith that is awake.
These Scriptures speak to believers. Believers are not insensible to the dangerous spiritual activities going on around us. We don't walk in the ignorance of sinners. We know we are called to watch and to pray. We understand that obedience should be an expression of love. Yet we sleep. Spiritually, we are comatose at worst and lethargic at best.
All ten of the virgins slept, but five of them were spiritually awake. They were prepared when the Bridegroom arrived (Matthew 25:1-13). That call is placed upon disciples of Christ. When we consider the time, we see it is time to be awake. God no longer winks at our ignorance or our slothfulness.
It is a busy time, we have much work to do, and our Master is calling us to do it. It is a perilous time. We are in the midst of enemies and snares. The Philistines of the world are all around us. The army of God is a victorious army, but are we really part of it? If so, why is our walk so slow, why are our movements so heavy and dull? Are we really awake, or are we still asleep as the heat of the battle increases?
God would have us rise and put on the armor of light. Jesus Christ is the Light; therefore, we are to put on Jesus Christ (Romans 13:14). When we put on Christ, we put on the graces of His Spirit. This is what protects us from the assaults and temptations of this evil world. When we put on Christ, we not only dress ourselves, we arm ourselves. If we try to do battle without Christ, we discover that our efforts are as filthy rags and our armor as fig leaves.
Many of us seem to be asleep, waiting for the battle to begin. But the battle already rages. Murder is rampant in the streets and abortion parlors. Pornography breeds more heinous forms of immorality. Heads of state maneuver and manipulate to seize more power. The public is submerged in debt, trapped by the commercial cry of expediency, "Get it now, pay for it later."
Everything is designed by the enemy to lead man away from God. The battle rages on. Christ told us to make disciples, but we slumber as His disciples did on the night of His betrayal (Matthew 26:36-46).
We should study the book of Daniel. It gives an explicit account of spiritual warfare. It shows clearly how much the heavenlies depend upon our prayers, and how powerful our prayers actually are. God is calling us toward persistence and away from slumber. At the moment, it is still day, but no one knows the hour.
Jesus is King!
P.S. What are you doing of eternal value?
Question for today: Am I spiritually asleep or spiritually awake?