INTRODUCTION: The language of this text is borrowed from natural sleep, in which a person is in a great measure unaware of what is happening around him but life remains in the body. This condition is applied to Christians who have grown insensitive to divine things–they sleep, but life remains in their souls. In particular, the exhortation is for those who find themselves in a state of spiritual slumber to shake off their drowsiness and awake to spiritual realities.
“Now it is high time to awake out of sleep” (Rom. 13:11).
Asahel Nettleton writes:
Sleeping Christians are reluctant to pray secretly. Prayer has been properly described as the breath of the Christian. When a Christian continues in a state of prayerlessness for a prolonged period, it is a sign that he is asleep. If not shortly awakened from this breathless state, it is reasonable to wonder whether such a person is actually spiritually dead.
Consider the time. Gospel light has risen upon us, and those who do not open their eyes to this light will remain in eternal darkness and despair. How can you sleep when the light of heaven is shining upon you? It is no time for sleep, because the day of salvation is a day that will be witnessed for eternity. The great business of this day calls loudly for you to awake.
Think, my brethren! Have you nothing to do for yourselves in preparation for eternity? Have you no sins to repent of and no evil propensities to mortify? Are your evidences of grace bright enough? Do you love God with all your heart? Are you perfectly conformed to God’s holy law? In short, are you willing to die as you are? If you have anything to do for yourselves, it is high time to awake out of sleep. (“Professing Christians, Awake!”)