1 Thessalonians 5:6
Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.
I. THE NATURE OF THIS SLEEP.
1. If a Christian man is said to sleep it must be in reference to inactivity. In sleep the whole body is at rest, but the mind is not. Never have we more graphic pictures of scenes and persons, nor more curious uprisings of buried pleasures and pains. But while the worker sleeps the loom is still. Now, while Christians sleep all aggressive energy is suspended; the minister sleeps in the pulpit, and the hearer in the pew, neither do nor get good.
2. While men 'arc asleep they have no interest in their work-a-day life. So to a sleepy Christian, souls may perish at his threshold, but he cares as little for them as they for him. Besides, he is immovable to all appeals. What is the use of spending argument or wasting speech on a sleeping man? This slumbering spirit spreads itself over everything else. If he comes to a prayer meeting he goes away without wrestling with the angel of mercy.
3. There is such an experience as walking in the sleep, aye, and in dangerous places where men awake would hardly go. By some strange influence somnambulists can go safely past the dangers. So, professors have a carnal security, and go terribly near the fire of sin.
4. When a man is asleep he is unprotected. Were we not unconscious of danger we could not sleep: but it is very real. Samson slept till Delilah cut his hair, and Sisera till Jael drove the nail into his temples. When a Christian is asleep he lays himself open to the devil, "who as a roaring lion," etc. He lies down in the enchanted ground till Giant Despair hauls him away to Doubting Castle.
5. In sleep there is no waste and decay. It is by sleep we are refreshed, but we do not eat or drink when we. are asleep. So, when professors are asleep they raise no cry for the living Bread, and have no sense of hunger; feel no need of a Bible or a Saviour; conscious of no want they offer no prayer, and if they sleep long enough, they will sleep on to death.
6. Mark the insidious character of this sleep.
(1) A Christian may be asleep and not know it. He may imagine himself rich while in reality he is poor and miserable.
(2) He may have taken precautions against being disturbed. There is a way of bolting and barring your heart against anybody, Beware of antinomianism: a draught of that may send you into a sleep that will know no awaking.
(3) You may be doing much to make people imagine you were anything but asleep. People can talk and walk in their sleep, and so may you; and you may have fine dreams and grand projects.
II. THE CAUSES OF THIS SLEEP.
1. It is the evil of our nature. While we are asleep about Divine things we are wide awake about worldly things.
2. It is easy to send a man to sleep with the chloroform of bad doctrine. If he believes that God is too merciful to punish he goes to sleep and cares nothing for his soul. Or if holding true doctrine he perverts them that will send him asleep.
3. Another cause is absorption in the things of the world, even when lawful. Every one knows that there is something he likes exceedingly, and that if he were to give full swing to it it would become an everlasting passion.
4. The sultry sun of prosperity. Those are generally the most spiritually minded who have drunk deep of the cup of suffering.
5. Spiritual pride.
III. THE APOSTLE'S ADMONITION.
1. The first thing to do is to open the eyes and let in the light. Open them to God in His Word, works and conscience. Just as the sun in the heavens shining in the eyes of a sleeper drives away sleep, so let the beams of the Sun of Righteousness shine into your hearts and wake you from your slumber.
2. Sleep not, for it is love that would have you awake. A mother's love will lull a child to sleep; but if there is a house on fire that love will take another turn. The wisdom of Christ would have you awake. The thief pilfers, and tares are sown while you are asleep, and therefore it is the highest wisdom to respond. You are commanded to awake, and by One who redeems you with His blood.
IV. INDUCEMENTS TO THIS AWAKENING.
1. Christ will give thee light — the light of truth and joy and glory.
2. It is high time to awake for the old, the middle aged, the young.
Parallel VersesKJV: Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.