Eph. 5:14, “Wherefore He saith, Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.” A mischievous application of this text is common. The unregenerate are addressed as sleepers, and they are besought to awake, and come to Christ for light. The natural condition of sinners is not, however, that of sleep but death—a death from which no earnest appeal can awake them, until the Spirit quicken them. To evade this fact is to lie to lost sinners in God’s name. In addressing the unregenerated we should not say, “What meanest thou, O sleeper” (Jonah 1:6); but “Ye must be born again.”
The above text, perhaps a fragment of an ancient hymn, is addressed to Christians who are not awake to the responsibilities of their condition as saved sinners, and who are living carnal and worldly lives. A sleeper and a corpse are much alike, and many Christians fearfully resemble worldly men. The faint health of spiritual life, which distinguishes them is hard to perceive. Such are exhorted to awake, and arise from among the (spiritually) dead, with whom they are so mixed up, and Christ will give them light.