1 Thessalonians 5:6
Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.
Many thoughtless and irreligious men think that they live in a manner that is the furthest off from sleep. And, indeed, they may be in a perpetual fever; and yet spiritually they are like men who sleep.
I. When a man is asleep he is in a state of INACTIVITY. You no more expect activity from the sleeping than you do from the dead. Whatever may be the fervid life of a godless man, yet with respect to God, prayer, preparation for eternity, religious duties, he does nothing; and Scripture says that he is not only asleep, but dead — and this, notwithstanding his pursuit of knowledge and pleasure.
II. A man asleep is UNCONSCIOUS of all around him. He may be asleep in the sunshine, on a bank of beauty and fragrance, surrounded by the most gorgeous scenery on earth, but he is insensible to it all. Such is the condition, spiritually, of the sinner. A man that has religious faith in him sees that God has surrounded him by another creation; but this is forever shut from the sight of the godless. What is the scenery of earth to that of the universe of truth, to which the worldly have their whole soul closed?
III. They that sleep DREAM, and are therefore liable to be affected by the unsubstantial and the untrue. A sluggard perhaps dreams that he is rich and prosperous; a hungry beggar, that he is a king. The most absurd and grotesque visions may flit over the dreamer and be to him as affecting as the realities of life, or he may be disturbed by dreams of terror equally unsubstantial. And worldly men will often be agitated by superstitious fears; their very ignorance of religion will be a positive and operating evil. But principally they dream that they are "rich and increased in goods," etc.; while they are in reality "poor and miserable," etc. The worldly man goes on fearing nothing because unconscious of the actual condition of his nature, and there is nothing so absurd as the dreams of irreligious dreamers; aye, and of religious dreamers too, thinking that they have enough of religion, and resting satisfied with repeating their creeds.
IV. Sleep is SOMETIMES PRODUCED BY INDULGENCES that make sleep heavy (ver. 7). When men sleep through grossness and sensuality it is very difficult to awake them. Loud voices and violent shaking will scarcely do it; and if you should succeed, they are irritated and want to sleep again. So when men's souls are drugged. Startling providences, such as a death next door, or an arousing sermon, which makes the deepest impression on others, have none on them. If some kind friend takes them by the arm, and will make them hear, they are vexed and feel insulted. Their conscience may be probed for the moment, but it is soon over, and they go to sleep again. So men go on crying "Peace and safety," and by the constant neglect of their spiritual nature closing the heart against the gospel, they get into a state of complete hardihood, and then "sudden destruction cometh." "Let us not sleep like" these, "but watch and be sober."
Parallel VersesKJV: Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.