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Are You Awake?

Filed Under: Luther's Devotions

Knowing the tune, that now it is high time to awake out of
sleep.

Rom. 13:11.

For the sake of effect and emphasis the apostle in his admonition
employs a pleasing figure and makes an eloquent appeal.
The word "sleep" is used as a simile to help us grasp the spiritual
thought. Since for the sake of temporal gain men rise
from sleep, put aside the things of darkness and take up the
day's work when night has given place to morning, how much
greater the necessity for us to awake from our spiritual sleep,
to cast off the things of darkness and enter upon the works of
light, since our night has passed and our day breaks. "Sleep"
here stands for the works of wickedness and unbelief. For sleep
is properly incident to the night time. Then, too, the explanation
is given in the added words: "Let us cast off the works of
darkness." Similarly in the thought of awakening and rising
are suggested the works of faith and piety. They that sleep,
sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the
night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the
breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet the hope of
salvation.

Paul, of course, does not enjoin against physical sleep. His
contrasting figures of sleep and wakefulness are used as illustrations
of spiritual lethargy and activity— the godly and the
ungodly life. Note the analogy between natural and spiritual
sleep. The sleeper sees nothing about him; he is not sensitive
to any earthly realities. In the midst of them he lies as one
dead and useless, without power or purpose. Though having
life in himself he is practically dead to all outside. His mind
is occupied, not with realities, but with dreams, in which he
beholds mere images, vain forms of the real ; and he is foolish
enough to think them true. But when he wakes, these illusions
or dreams vanish. Then he begins to occupy himself with
realities.

So it is in the spiritual life. The ungodly person sleeps.
He is in a sense dead in the sight of God. He does not recognize
the real spiritual blessings extended him through the gospel; he
regards them as valueless. For these blessings are only to be
recognized by the believing heart; they are concealed from the
natural man.

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