1 Thessalonians 5:6
Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.
I. THE EVIL. There are three kinds of sleep in Scripture. The sleep of the body; of the grave; of the soul. It is of the last that Paul speaks. There is —
1. The sleep of indolence, indifference, thoughtlessness. We use a like term in the affairs of life. Of a man who lets all his opportunities pass, and makes no provision against evil, obvious to all but himself, we say, "He must be asleep." Such a sleep, spiritually, is described in Isaiah 29. The Bible is a sealed book, and eternal things a matter of little consequence. The Bible is not opposed; but all we can extort is a vacant assent, and then sleep.
2. The sleep of security and false peace. Attention has been awakened; "things belonging to peace" have been apprehended; but after having been thus enlightened there has ensued a delusive tranquillity of soul, trading in past conversion, little thinking of the use their sleepless adversary is making of their guilty slumber.
3. The sleep of sloth and inactivity. All the emblems of the Christian life support the necessity of earnestness and diligence — the racer, etc. Hence the idea of an unadvancing Christian is a practical contradiction. Imagine the case of a babe remaining always a babe, a warrior without victory. All stationary conditions in religion are slumbering conditions.
II. THE DANCER. Spiritual sleep, like natural, is a thing of degrees. There is a deep sleep from which a man can with difficulty be aroused, and yet there is a lighter sleep in which though every noise be sufficient to disturb, yet it may not be sufficient to arouse. These two states are types of the unawakened sinner, and the unwatchful Christian.
1. With regard to a man in the confirmed slumber.
(1) There is the awful danger that none of the warnings and providential rebukes by which other souls are stirred up should reach him; he cannot hear them. Sickness stretches him on his bed; death bereaves him of friends; decaying faculties predict his latter end; but he sleeps only to waken in the prison of the invisible world.
(2) But deep as his slumbers are, they allow of his being amused with dreams. He can hear the whispers of Satan, when he cannot hear the thunders of vengeance. The word is represented as paradise; religion is an affair of observances; repentance is a dying man's employment; and death, perhaps, an eternal sleep. In that sleep of the soul "What dreams do come:" What contradictions to truth, what impiety against God! What frauds upon a rational intelligence!
2. In the sleep of a lighter character, unwatchfulness and supineness of soul, the danger is lest it should deepen into the heaviest. Men thus asleep are like those under the influence of an opiate; their only safety lies in keeping their eyes open; once close them, they die. But at best such can expect to have no evidence of their acceptance in a dying hour: they have none now.
(D. Moore, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.