1 Corinthians 15:34
Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.
This chapter generally deals with the resurrection of the body; but the text refers to the resurrection of the soul. And this is a greater and more glorious work than the other, because —
I. The soul is greater than the body. What is the casket to the jewel, the house to the tenant, the barque to the crew? "Heap worlds on worlds; one soul outweighs them all."
2. It can only be accomplished with the full concurrence of the man. In the material resurrection the man has no choice, but the soul will not rise without its own consent.
3. It requires a higher agency. Mere volition and force will effect the material resurrection. Christ had only to say to Lazarus, "Come forth"; but thousands of souls dead in sin He appealed to, yet but few came out of their spiritual graves. Mere volition will not do it; it requires argument, suasion, love, example.
4. It is an invaluable blessing in itself. The material resurrection will be an intolerable curse to the wicked; but the resurrection of the soul is evermore a blessing.
5. It is necessary to qualify us to understand the resurrection of the body. This is suggested by the text when viewed in connection with the apostle's object. Rectitude of soul is a better interpreter than any hermeneutic skill. Note —
I. THE CONDITION FROM WHICH MAN IS SUMMONED. What is moral sleep?
1. It is not the sleep of —
(1) The animal faculties; they are often more active in consequence of the sleep of the soul.
(2) The intellectual powers; the imagination may be as active as Byron's, the reason as Voltaire's, and yet the soul may be asleep.
(3) The social sympathies; they are active when the soul is asleep.
2. When is the soul asleep? When it is not inspired in all its powers by supreme love to God. This is not like sleep —
(1) In being the ordination of God, as is natural sleep; it is contrary to His desire and command.
(2) In being the means of refreshment. Moral sleep is a corroding and an exhausting state.
3. There are certain points of resemblance which warrant the figure.
(1) Insensibility. There is a world of grand and solemn realities around the sinner; voices deep and loud speak to him; and visions of awful majesty pass before him. Yet he is dead to all. He is dead to himself and to God.
(2) Fictitiousness. Objects flit before the natural sleeper that have no real existence; to the moral sleeper, heaven, hell, God, eternity, are but as dreams. Sometimes they may startle the man, but like the dream, the impression soon departs. The life of a sinner is fiction — a great lie.
(3) Transitoriness. Sleep is not a permanent state. "They that sleep, sleep in the night." There is a dark spiritual night brooding over the moral sleeper, and one of two very different mornings must break the slumbers of all.
(a) There is the morning of spiritual reformation — the morning when "God commands the light," etc. Then the soul awakes, and finds itself in a new world — a world full of God, and exclaims, "Surely God is in this place," etc.
(b) The other morning is the morning of retribution. The awful manifestations of that morning will startle the most sleepy into active consciousness.
II. THE STATE INTO WHICH WE ARE SUMMONED. Men are not required to awake to business, pleasure, or fashion; they are all alive in relation to these things. But concerning righteousness they are asleep.
1. The state of righteousness includes —
(1)Living righteously towards God and His universe.
(a) Be just to yourself; that is virtue.
(b) Be just to others; that is morality.
(c) Be just to God; this is piety.
(2) Being treated as righteous.
2. The getting of man into this righteous state is ascribed to Christ. He furbishes —
(1) The moral force by which it is done.
(2) The moral reasons by which the past wrongs may be overlooked. "He is made unto us," etc.
3. This righteous state includes —
(1) Harmonious action.
(2) Social usefulness.
(3) Spiritual progress.
(4) Heavenly fellowships.
III. THE VOICE BY WHICH WE ARE SUMMONED. "Awake." Paul is but the organ of the Divine voice. This Divine voice sounds through —
1. All history. Turn over the sin-stained annals of the world, and you will find every chapter pealing with the word, "Awake." All the miseries of the awful past sprang from the want of righteousness.
2. The moral constitution of our nature. Conscience, with more or less emphasis, calls upon every man to "awake."
3. The memories of sainted friends.
4. The whole Bible of God.
(D. Thomas, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.