One of the scariest parables I have read in the Bible is the one about the ten virgins. Although there were five of them who were wise, they all did a foolish thing. Just before the return of the bridegroom (Christ), the Bible tells us all of them slumbered and eventually fell asleep. “While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.” Matthew 25:5 KJV. Sure they were wise to take enough oil to last through the night, but why couldn’t they stay awake and watch for His return?
I’m sure most of you reading this post would agree that these are the last days we are living in. If not, at the very least you could say that things are most definitely becoming like they were in the days of Noah. “But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” Matthew 24:37 KJV. The toughest thing facing you and me during these times in which we live, is keeping our personal relationship with God static free. I desperately hope that I can leave you with something to consider, take to heart, and put into action. We need to stay awake!
“You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times.” 2 Tim 3:1 NLT. These are difficult times we are living in. Difficult because the more that evil rages around us, the harder it is to stay unspotted. “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” James 1:27 KJV. While I would love to tell you that it’s easy to live righteously, it’s not. Noah and his family, eight in all, were the ONLY ones saved in the flood. What made Noah special in Gods eyes? “Noah was a just and righteous man, blameless in his [evil] generation; Noah walked [in habitual fellowship] with God.” Genesis 6:9 AMP.
Sad but true, is the fact that most of us are not surviving during these difficult times. More and more Christians are finding reasons to become offended and walk away. While they only think that they are walking away from religion, they are actually leaving their relationship with God. But could it be that this has more to do with us than what we may think? So often we make things about relationship with religion rather than relationship with God. How do I know this to be true? When we live a certain way only to satisfy our religion rather than to keep intimacy in our relationship with Jesus, we’ve failed, we’re nothing more than hypocrites. A great example of this is when we go on vacation; “The Rules” somehow no longer apply. Or, when we see somebody no longer following “The Rules” we don’t look for the hurt that’s causing the problem, we just immediately cast judgment and see them as a hopeless cause.
No one can survive like this, sinner or saint! Do you remember what Paul told Timothy pure and undefiled religion was? “To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction.” And what made Noah special? ”Noah walked [in habitual fellowship] with God.” Just as a reminder to all of us, when God gets ready to separate the sheep from the goats at judgment, here’s how simple He’s going to make it. “When I was hungry you gave me food, thirsty you gave me drink, a stranger you took me in, naked you clothed me, sick you visited me, and when in prison you visited me.” Matthew 25:32-36.
When we make it about the outside of the cup rather than the inside, it’s easier to justify our own lack of spiritual depth based on the amount of rules we’re following. Or it’s easy to feel like we just can’t make it because the rules are crushing us. Jesus said these words to the Scribes and Pharasies. “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too.” Matthew 23:25-26 NLT. I’m not saying the outside of the cup isn’t important, only that we always need to look at the heart rather than the outside man, both for ourselves and for others sake. Failure to do this will cause “The Rules” to crush us, and we won’t survive the weight of them. If any of you are using this to justify your actions of rebellion, you are already sleeping and need to wake up!
If we focus only on our own lamps and how much oil we have for ourselves, we will no longer see the darkness that has overtaken this world, and as darkness falls, we’ll drift off to sleep. When we sleep, we don’t work, and if we don’t work, the people of this world will keep suffering in their pain.
Jesus made one prayer request for one reason. “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.” Matthew 9:36-38 NLT.
Why does the enemy want you to sleep so badly? Jesus said this to his disciples “Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!” Matthew 26:39 NLT. When we’re sleeping we’re not aware of the traps he’s setting for us. “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8 NLT. You cannot sleep while you’re working.
When we forget that we’re forgiven, we begin to lose hope. Hope in the thought of ever being called by God to do a work for Him, or that we may have lost out on our calling. When hopelessness sets in, it’s easy to go to sleep so as to forget the pain. When you fall into one of the enemy’s traps, and trust me when I tell you we ALL fall into them from time to time, the Bible has some great reminders for us. “If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is.” 2 Timothy 2:13 NLT. Here is one of my favorite reminders the Bible makes about my condition. “But God commended his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 KJV. He died for you while you were still a sinner, not after you cleaned up!
The greatest example of this is the woman caught in adultery found in John 8:3-11. This woman was in bed committing the act when she was taken to the feet of Jesus. There she was, lying naked and ashamed at His feet. After the crowd of accusers left, Jesus asked two very simple questions, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” To which she replies, “No Lord”, and now comes the most beautiful part, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” She wasn’t at an altar begging for forgiveness. She was at the feet of Jesus, and Jesus is not the accuser. He leaves that to Satan (Revelation 12:10).
Jesus can and will forgive you, in fact, He already has at Calvary, there’s no need to live under the weight of your sin any longer. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 KJV. The weight of the guilt needs to be removed, and the only way to do that is to “Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.” Psalm 55:21 NLT. When you know you’re forgiven, you will be alert, and nothing will be able to put your light out.