Summary: Even the most sincere Christians can inadvertently “fall asleep” and find their relationship and walk with the Lord declining. Come read seven warnings that will hopefully stir you to maintain an alert, vigilant, close, and fulfilling walk with God.
Matthew 25:1-5 … The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
• These verses speak of the times leading up to the Lord’s Second Coming. The warning here is that “all became drowsy and fell asleep” — both the foolish and the wise.
• So it is possible even for mature Christians to fall asleep and find themselves unprepared for the last days. My desire in this message today is to warn you from the Scriptures about various ways you can “fall asleep” and see your Christian walk decline as we move daily towards the times of the end.
Hebrews 3:13, 15 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness…  …do not harden your hearts as [Israel] did in the rebellion.”
• (1)Sin is deceitful. If allowed to gain a foothold in your life, it will slowly, subtly, gradually harden your heart.
• In our self-congratulating, “tolerant” society, you can begin to tolerate a little bit more ungodliness … then still a bit more … and the next thing you know your heart is hardened to the destructive nature of sin.
• A habit of sin creeps up on you gradually, slowly, almost unnoticed. You find your standards relaxing “just a little.” And the next thing you know, your “sin detector” has pretty much fallen asleep. What used to seem terrible now seems permissible because, supposedly, “everybody does it.”
2 Timothy 3:13 …evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.
• (2) We can fall asleep to the moral and spiritual deterioration of the world around us.
• Consider the shameful decline in the modesty of women’s fashions in just your lifetime. How about abortion? Being now a senior citizen, I can recall when just the thought of abortion was shocking to the minds of Americans. But now innocent babies in the womb are being executed in America in numbers that should bring us to our knees weeping. The R-rated movies of 30 years ago are now only PG-13 or even PG, reflecting today’s deteriorating moral standards.
• Our educational institutions have declined in the quality of their mission and worldview. For example, in his book Persecution, David Limbaugh writes: “In 1636, John Harvard, ‘a godly gentleman and a lover of learning,’ established Harvard College to ‘raise up a class of learned men for the Christian ministry’.” [bold type is mine] How Christian-focused is Harvard today?!
• Many other examples could be given. But the point is: don’t fall asleep to the moral and spiritual decline of the society we live in.
Matthew 24:3, 12 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” …  Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold…
• (3) We can become drowsy and fall asleep in the intensity of our love for the Lord.
• Jesus is the Bridegroom. The Church is called to be His Bride. Are you seeking daily to grow in the intimacy of your relationship with Him? Do you long to be in His presence through prayer, bible reading, worship, and gathering as a church?
• Or would you describe the years of your walk with the Lord and your love for Him as “initially hot … then warm … mild … cold … asleep!” That’s the tendency, if we don’t purposely cultivate a close relationship with Jesus. Letting love decline leads to marriages breaking down, and that is certainly true of our relationship with Jesus, our heavenly Bridegroom.
Luke 21:34 Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life [KJV: the cares of this life], and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap.
• (4) Carousing and drunkenness? Well, those are obviously things to avoid. But how about the anxieties and cares of this life? We can get so wrapped up in the everyday cares of this life that we find our energies sapped for spiritual things. And the next thing you know, we are spiritually asleep!
• Fear can creep in and anesthetize faith. Materialism can gradually overcome our spiritual sharpness. The cares and anxieties of this life can put to sleep our cares about matters that relate to eternal life.
Matthew 25:5 The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
• (5) “A long time in coming” — the apparent sameness of each day can dull us to spiritual realities and priorities.
• We can lose sight of the existence and hostility of a real, malevolent devil and his demons. Living in the seemingly quiet years between great revivals can lessen our excitement for the things of God.
• The fact that Jesus hasn’t come back to earth yet can tempt us to live as though He won’t be coming back soon. The result? We could end up like the unwise virgins who were sleeping and unready for the bridegroom’s arrival.
Matthew 26:39-41 … Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
• (6) Jesus went to pray in the garden of Gethsemane. His disciples went to sleep!
• Prayer helps us maintain a living, close relationship with Almighty God. The lack of prayer leads to our having a somewhat (or very) distant relationship with Him.
• Jesus had requested that they watch in prayer with Him. What was their response? They fell asleep! Remember, concerning prayer, that “the flesh is weak.” Deal with yourself, deal with your flesh’s normal tendency to drift away from spiritual things, and make a determined effort to “watch and pray” regularly.
Revelation 3:1-2 To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God.
• (7) We can rest on our laurels, on our past accomplishments and past growth in the Lord, and end up being spiritually “dead” — that’s the word Jesus used speaking to the lukewarm Christian church.
• Your prayer and bible study last week won’t sustain you today. What if in the natural your last food and drink were last week! How healthy would you be today?
• If you don’t maintain an active spiritual life, you will quickly have a dying spiritual life. What was the solution Jesus offered? — A resounding command to “wake up!” No five-point list, no here’s-how sermon. Just “wake up!” and get back to a relationship with the Lord that is current and burning brightly.
Summary of Seven Ways to Fall Asleep:
• Letting your heart be hardened and deadened by the deceitfulness of sin