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:
Consider that sinners are perishing. Your life and example will contribute either to their salvation or to their destruction. It is a fact that one ungodly professor of Christianity does more to prevent the conversion of sinners than many infidels.
Brethren, are heaven and hell mere fables? If they are eternal realities, how can you remain silent or indifferent about them? If there be one impenitent sinner among you who is in danger of going to that place of eternal torment, can you sleep? Come, then, you that know the Lord and keep not silent, “if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand” (Ezek. 33:8). There is a dreadful storm of divine wrath coming upon the world of the ungodly. Therefore, it is high time to awake from slumber because “their damnation slumbereth not” (2 Pet. 2:3).
Consider the time that has already passed. How many months have you been asleep? How many years have you slept in God’s vineyard? Would you still continue sleeping away the day of salvation? With some, the sun has already passed its midway point and is now hastening its rapid descent. “Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light” (John 12:35). Delay not, for “the night cometh, when no man can work” (John 9:4). (“Professing Christians, Awake!”)