Charles Simeon Commentary - Ephesians 5:14 - 5:14

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Charles Simeon Commentary - Ephesians 5:14 - 5:14

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Eph_5:14. Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.

THERE is a harmony in the Scriptures which many overlook and destroy: detached passages are often wrested to establish a favourite system [Note: Calls to duty are supposed to imply the sufficiency of man to do the will of God; while the confessions or petitions of the saints, and the promises of Divine aid given to them, are brought to justify a negligence in the use of means.]. But the various truths of God should be viewed as they stand connected with each other; there would then be diversity indeed, but no contrariety between them [Note: God gives a command, Eze_18:31. David, knowing his duty, and feeling his inability to perform it, had long before presented this to God in the form of a petition, Psa_51:10. And God, to encourage such applications to him, promises to work in us that which he requires of us, Eze_36:26.]. This observation will throw light, as on many other parts of Scripture, so on that before us in particular; in which we have,

I.       A command—

The Scripture abounds with useful and instructive metaphors. Our state is here represented under the images of sleep and death.

Sleep implies a state of inactivity and security

[Men are busily employed about their worldly concerns; but a lamentable supineness prevails with respect to spiritual things. The generality do not apprehend their souls to be in any danger: death, judgment, heaven, and hell, do not seem worthy their notice: God’s threatenings against them are denounced without effect: they are like Jonah, sleeping in the midst of a storm: hence they are described as “at ease from their youth [Note: Jer_48:11.].” To the same effect is the testimony of Him who searcheth the heart [Note: Psa_10:4-5.]—]

Death includes the ideas of impotence and corruption

[An inanimate body cannot perform any of the functions of life: it has within itself the seeds and principles of corruption. The soul also, till quickened from the dead, is in a state of impotence: it is incapable of spiritual action or discernment [Note: Joh_15:5. 1Co_2:14.]; its powers and faculties are altogether vitiated [Note: Rom_7:18.]; whatever is loathesome and offensive to God proceeds from it [Note: Mar_7:21-22.]. So true is that humiliating declaration [Note: Job_15:14-16.]—!]

Yet, notwithstanding this state appears so desperate, we must address, to every one that is under it, the command, “Awake,” &c.

[Your inactivity and security involve you in the deepest guilt: your corruption of heart and life provokes the majesty of God: nor is your impotence any excuse for your disobedience. It is your love of sin that disables you for duty: nor is God deprived of his right to command, because you have lost your power to obey. Let every one then strive to comply with his heavenly call. They who exert their feeble powers may expect divine assistance [Note: See Mat_12:10; Mat_12:13. The man with the withered hand was unable to stretch it forth; but in attempting to obey, he was endued with strength.].]

To convince us that none shall fail who use the appointed means, God enforces his command with,

II.      A promise—

Sleep and death are states of intellectual darkness. Hence light is promised to those who obey the Divine mandate. Light in Scripture imports knowledge [Note: Isa_8:20.], holiness [Note: 1Jn_1:7.], comfort [Note: Psa_97:11.], and glory [Note: Col_1:12.]; and all these blessings shall they receive from Christ, the fountain of light [Note: Mal_4:2. Joh_1:9.].


[Spiritual knowledge every natural man stands in need of: nor is it attainable by the teaching of men, or the efforts of genius [Note: Mat_11:25.]: we can receive it from none but Christ [Note: Mat_11:27.]. Hence Christ invites us to come to him for it [Note: Mat_11:29.]: nor shall an application to him ever fail of success [Note: Psa_25:9. Pro_2:3-6.].]


[A despair of attaining this deters many from seeking it. They think their inveterate habits cannot be rooted out [Note: Jer_2:25.]; but Christ is our “sanctification” as well as our wisdom [Note: 1Co_1:30.]. His very name encourages us to expect deliverance from him [Note: Mat_1:21.], and he will fulfil the promises which he has made to this effect [Note: Mic_7:19. Isa_1:25.].]


[A sense of guilt shall yield to holy joy [Note: Isa_29:19; Isa_61:3.]: deplored weakness shall be succeeded by divine energy [Note: Isa_35:5-6.]. Our delight in him shall be spiritual and exalted [Note: Isa_51:11; Isa_58:11.]: it shall far transcend all earthly pleasures [Note: Psa_84:10; Psa_4:6-7.].]


[Our Lord will not confine his blessings to this world [Note: Psa_84:11.]. He will raise his people to thrones of glory [Note: Rev_3:21.]: he will cause them to participate his own inheritance [Note: Rom_8:17.]: he will be the ground and object of their joy for ever [Note: Isa_60:19-20.].]


[What greater encouragement can any one desire? What richer promises can any one conceive? How suited are they to our necessities! Let every one consider the command as addressed to himself; “Awake, thou;” let all our powers and faculties be called forth to action. In exerting ourselves let us expect the promised aid. Thus shall we be eternal monuments of Christ’s power and grace.]