Paul to Sleeping Saints: "Wake Up!"
In his wonderful letter to the Ephesian church, the apostle included a shattering statement which is astonishingly appropriate today: "Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light" (Ephes. 5:14). We usually think of this church as outstandingly spiritual, particularly in the light of our Lord’s commendation in Revelation 2:2,3. Yet Paul’s words indicate that even in his day thirty years earlier it had already begun to "leave its first love." So he seeks to arouse them with a disturbing diagnosis, a drastic demand, and the promise of a dazzling development.
The Disturbing Diagnosis
Like many today, the Ephesians were spiritually asleep, unaware of the seriousness of lying (4:25), uncontrolled anger (4:26), yielding to the devil’s devices (4:27), stealing (4:28), foul language (4:29), immorality and covetousness (5:3), "obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking" (5:4,NIV), fellowship with the world (5:11), and consequent inability to discern God’s will for their lives (5:17). But there is a remedy for all of this, and sleeping Christians are challenged to take it without delay.
The Drastic Demand
"Awake...and arise from the dead." A sleeping man and a dead man are alike oblivious to their surroundings. But the sleeper can be aroused, and once awakened, make deliberate return to alertness. How many Christians need to do this spiritually--by waking to their true condition and deliberately dropping any habit, any relationship, any fleshly indulgence which keeps them in a state of spiritual "death."
Jacob urged this upon his household (Gen. 35:2): "Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments." "Having these promises," Paul wrote the Corinthian church, "let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2 Cor. 7:1).
The Dazzling Development
"And Christ shall give thee light"--light in the darkness of a lost world, "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Cor. 4:6). Paul had already prayed that these Ephesians might have "the eyes of your understanding enlightened" (Eph. 1:18); here he assures them of the certain answer to his prayer--if they will "walk in the light as He is in the light."
Let us rejoice that "whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope" (Rom. 15:4), and "they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come" (1 Cor. 10:11).
– From Global Circle, The Great Commission Prayer League.