4 Give not sleep to thine eyes, nor slumber to thine eyelids.
5 Deliver thyself as a roe from the hand of the hunter, and as a bird from the hand of the fowler.
There are several scriptures in the New Testament about sleep, and some are given in a positive sense. For a Christian, death is sometimes called sleep because we have the promise of the resurrection. When Jesus returns, those who are dead in their graves will hear His voice and meet Him in the clouds!
Paul the Apostle Wrote:
13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live (John 5:24-25).
Before we received the words of Jesus through the gospel, we were dead. We were dead because we have all sinned, and the just punishment for sin is death because when we sin, we are bringers of death.
The ways of Jesus bring life to those who live thereby. Faith in His sacrifice cleanses us from our sin judicially, and as we apply His ways to our life and seek His strength through the Holy Spirit we are given the ability to overcome sin in a real-to-life way. So long as we are alive, we have more battles to overcome and more room to grow according to the measure of faith and grace given to us.
What would happen if we became entranced by this world and forgot who it is we serve? What if we neglected the New Covenant, thereby abusing the liberty that was bought with the precious price of Jesus’s blood? What if we find ourselves in treason against the Kingdom to which we pledge our allegiance?
There are two general outcomes.
One is this: the salvation which we “seemed to have” is taken away (Luke 8:18). No sincere Christian will lose his or her salvation. It is true that the love of Jesus is strong, and He is mighty to save those who belong to Him. There is nothing we can do to get in the way of our salvation, because our salvation is wrought in Him. Salvation is of grace, not because of our righteousness which is as “filthy rags.”
However, salvation causes us to “abound in every good work” and there are many who only “seemed” to receive the gospel. There could be many reasons for this. Maybe they were Christian because it benefited them in some way, either socially or financially. Maybe the Christianity they believed in was overly self-centered and corrupted, thereby making the Christ they followed not Jesus but Satan (Jesus will judge it). The parable of the sower provides some insight into this (Matthew 13).
It is good to know that most of us have fulfilled the wrong side of parables in some measure. It is good to know that the mercy of Jesus abounds to those who belong to Him. Therefore, the second outcome would be the need for revival—or awakening—out of sleep.
Though we forsook our pledge to Him by aligning ourselves to this world (as written in the previous writing), Jesus will cause us to awaken to the calling we have been called to—and this is a calling that pursues what it righteous in the eyes of God, not a calling that accepts sinfulness and friendship with the ways of this world (evil communications).
Paul the Apostle wrote:
33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.
34 Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.
35 But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?
36 Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die:
37 And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain:
38 But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.
39 All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds.
40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.
41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.
42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:
43 It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:
44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.
46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.
47 The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven.
48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.
49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:33-58).
There is a lot of information in the above scripture. We see that when a Christian dies, our dead bodies are buried in the earth. When we are raised from the dead at the coming of Jesus, we are raised in a new, spiritual body. Death will have no victory over a Christian! This is wonderful and a great promise to look forward to. We know that no matter what enemy comes against us, should we die for the faith, Jesus will raise us up.
There is more. Paul the apostle also wrote of a present-day resurrection that we can experience as the Sons of God who walk after the Spirit of God. You can read about this in Romans 8.
8 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.
13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
Is it possible for a Christian to be led by the spirit of this world—even the prince of this world, Satan, and also be led by the Spirit of God? That is the struggle for a Christian. We all strive against the works of the flesh with faith in the promises of Jesus. We believe that He forgives us and He will strengthen us in Spirit so that we can do what is pleasing to Him.
Should we give up on this fight? Should we roll over and go to sleep? There are many teachings out there, even among Christianity, that will allow you to feel perfectly secure in doing so. However, that is not the Christian way.
“Deliver thyself as a roe from the hand of the hunter, and as a bird from the hand of the fowler.”
Many have infiltrated the Christian faith. Jesus said it would be so. Hear His words, come out from among them, and find the path of Life promised to us by our Lord.
24 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:
25 But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.
26 But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.
27 So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?
28 He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?
29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.
30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn (Matthew 13:24-30).
If we have fallen for teachings of the tares, we can “make surety our friend” by approaching Jesus in humility. We can repent from breaking our covenant with Him, and He will forgive us. Though, we should never again take that forgiveness for granted.
Pledge yourself again to the one you call “Lord” and “Savior” lest the words of your own oath condemn you. If you call yourself a Christian, if you wear the blood of the Son of God, then fulfill your oath! If you call Jesus your “Lord” then He must be your Lord. If you call Jesus your “savior” then He must be your savior.
Will your oath testify for your or against you? Will you sleep and die, or will you rise and live? I don’t say this to be harsh, but to inspire. I hope some will be inspired. There is so much waiting for you within the promises of Jesus—wonderful things that are far better than anything this world has to offer.
What about myself?
I know what it is like to “sleep” in this world and still call myself a Christian. I also know what it is like to awaken to the Christian calling that I had neglected. It is a remarkable act of mercy and grace, one that will ignite your zeal for God, and no one can come against it. I know that this awakening is in the hands of Jesus alone, and I know that if we approach Him honestly and humbly, He will show us the way out of all delusion—even the delusion of a sleeping and dead faith.
I still have much more learning to do. I need to be strengthened in walking after the Spirit. There is always more learning to do so long as we live in this earthly body. I never claim to be perfect, except by the blood of Jesus. However, that blood has a price on it. That blood means I belong to Jesus. I will not stand before God with the blood of His Son upon me in vain.
Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord (1 Corinthians 11:27).
I pray that no one reading this will come into that condemnation, and I have faith in the mercy of Jesus who is always Faithful and True to those who belong to Him.