Are you spiritually drowsy or spiritually awake? Spiritual drowsiness is when we cannot discern what is pleasing to God. We distract ourselves with thousands of cable channels, tens of thousands of movies, hundreds of thousands of apps and billions of websites. Our spiritual discernment is blunted by the abundance of entertainment, so that “sin looks normal and righteousness seem strange” (David Wells, Losing Our Virtue [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999], 4). In such a situation of spiritual drowsiness, the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night and expose all that is done in darkness (1 Thess 5:2; 2 Pet 3:10). Today, we are in great danger of distracting ourselves from realizing our own wretchedness and need for Christ so that we amuse ourselves down a path to damnation.
Spiritual wakefulness sees God’s good purposes clearly. Such clarity of vision is only possible if we “are all children of light [and] children of the day” (1 Thess 5:5). The first prerequisite to spiritual wakefulness is not to disconnect from the world but to recognize our darkness and look to Christ, the light of the world. We must “believe in the light, that [we] may become sons of light” (John 12:36). Faith in Christ enables us to see clearly.
Even after we believe in Christ, we must “not sleep…but…keep awake and be sober” (1 Thess 5:6). Spiritual wakefulness means that we can “discern what is pleasing to the Lord” (Eph 5:10). The disciples failed in this in the Garden of Gethsamane; when Jesus called them to “stay awake and pray” (Matt 26:41), they slept, fighting when they should have fled, fleeing when they should have followed and denying when they should have confessed Christ. Similarly, when we are spiritually drowsy, we fall in temptation because we cannot see clearly.
So how do we stay awake? 1 Thessalonians 5:8 says, “since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breasplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.” By faith, we must see the purposes of God more than the expectations of our culture. With love, we must see and labor for the God-given potential of each person instead of using them for selfish ends. With hope, we must persevere through each challenge and setback, knowing the God who is working out his salvation in our midst.
May we be spiritually awake to see and obtain God’s purposes for our lives!