Concerning Sleep (3) (Rom. 13:11)

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Some sleep the sleep of the foolish, the negligent, or the careless. In the parable of the tares, Jesus emphasized that the tares were sown among the wheat “while men slept” (Matt. 13:24-25). Someone just went to sleep when he should have been on guard. Peter sounds the warning for us today: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (I Pet. 5:8). Yet, many sleep like that today.

Parents sleep while the devil is seducing their children. It may be through the way they dress; it may be by urging them to attend social events that are sinful, like the prom;  “After all,” he urges, “everyone else will be there.” It may be through their associates; it may be through drugs and alcohol or through the vulgar language of the day. Parents, wake up! Do not sleep the sleep of the foolish! The soul of your child depends a lot on your vigilance. Paul instructs, “be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed” (Rom. 12:2). He strongly warns about the consequences of bad associates in I Corinthians 15:33. “Be not deceived: Evil companionships corrupt good morals.”

Elders sometimes sleep while error is advocated in the church. Paul instructed elders, “Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears” (Acts 20:28-31). The elders of the first century went to sleep and the church went into apostasy. And for the past 50-plus years many elders have “slept” while liberalism has entered and destroyed many congregations. Elders, wake up! Shepherd the flock as God demands!

Some young people sleep the sleep of the careless and neglectful thinking that they have many years in which to make their peace with God. However, young people are dying every day. Young people, wake up, don’t wait. Obey God now. Solomon admonishes, “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, Before the difficult days come, And the years draw near when you say, I have no pleasure in them” (Ecc. 12:1).

Some sleep the sleep of spiritual death, as did some at Corinth. “For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep” (I Cor. 11:30). Just as alien sinners can be said to be “dead in trespasses and sin” (Eph. 2:1) so also can the child of God sink so far into sin that he too is considered as being dead spiritually (II Pet. 2:20-22). Some are already so far gone into such a fatal sleep that they cannot hear the cries of loved ones, nor the message of the gospel, nor the roar of the waves of Jordan. The sleep of those Christians had been induced by their neglect of the Lord's Supper and public worship, which shows how easily people may slip into such a deadly sleep.

And don’t forget the frightful warning given in Hebrews 6:4-6: “Awake, thou that sleepest. Arise from the dead and Christ shall give thee light” (Eph. 5:14). May all the sleepers be aroused by the call of the apostle's words here.  They ever stand, everlasting, upon the sacred page.

Paul M. Wilmoth