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By Rev Charles Seet

Preached at / Published Life BPC 8 am service, 2000-09-24

Text: Romans 13:11-13

It is a joy and privilege once again to be able to bring the Word of God to all of you. Our topic for this morning is 'Awakened from being Spiritually Comatose.' What is Spiritual Coma? A spiritual comatose state can be likened to physical coma, a condition which is somewhat like being asleep. If you were to visit a comatose patient in a hospital bed he looks just like someone who is asleep. He is inactive and unconscious, but he is still alive, since his heart still beats and he is still breathing. But unlike a sleeping man, the patient does not wake up after many hours. He remains in that state of unconsciousness for a few days or weeks, and in rare cases, even for years! It is normal for us to sleep as our body needs sufficient rest, but it is abnormal for a person to remain asleep for too long for that means that he is comatose. 

We have thus coined the term 'spiritual coma' to denote an abnormal spiritual state of slumber. This figurative use of slumber is found in our Bibles. One example of this can be found in Romans 11:7,8 where it is used to describe the present state of Israel 'What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.' 

According to this, the Jews as a whole are unresponsive to God and the Gospel of Christ. For almost 2000 years they have refused to acknowledge that Jesus is their Messiah - what a long sleep they have had! And what a vast difference this is from the days of the Old and New Testaments when they were the most spiritually alive nation in the world. As a result of their spiritual coma, many Jews in Israel today are totally secular in their outlook, and even deny the Lord. But the latter part of the same chapter has a promise that one day the nation will be awakened from their long slumber - they will be saved when the Lord returns. 

Another is in the passage we read for our responsive reading: Ephesians 5:14 'Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.' This time the idea of sleep is used for individuals rather than for a nation. And this is the same use of sleep that us found in our text, Romans 13:11 'And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep'

So then, how can we describe spiritual coma as applied to individual believers? A believer in a comatose state has lost consciousness of God in his life. He becomes an inactive Christian, and is no longer involved in Christian service, or in fellowship with other believers. He no longer reads his Bible or does his quiet time. Having fallen spiritually asleep, he does not respond to the Word of God when he hears it. I have known of Christians who remain in such a backslidden condition for weeks, months and even years. But the worse part of it all is that they themselves do not know how serious their condition is. They do not feel that any thing is wrong with them. And that is not a good sign at all. For just like a physically comatose patient, the comatose Christian is in a most dangerous condition and urgently needs treatment, but he may not even be aware of the awful state he is in. 

Dearly beloved, perhaps this may also be true of you. Please examine yourself to see if you are in a spiritually comatose state. Perhaps there was a time when you used to be more spiritually very responsive, more conscious of God's work in your life, and fervently serving the Lord than you are now. Perhaps there was a time when you lived your life more fully for the Lord Jesus Christ than you do now. Perhaps there was a time when you loved Him with all you heart, soul and mind and your first love was burning brightly. But as the years went by and you got more involved with the things of the world, your love has grown cold. Other things have crowded their way into your life and demanded your time and affections. And you have lapsed deeper and deeper into spiritual slumber. 

When a doctor deals with a comatose patient one of the first things he does is to make a quick assessment of the depth of the patient's coma. Now in medical terminology there are four levels of coma. In coma one the patient is drowsy, but he can still speak and respond to external stimulus. In coma two, the patient is asleep, but he can still open his eyes when someone speaks to him or touches him. In coma three, the patient will not respond to sound or touch, but only to painful stimulus, such as pressing one of his nerves against a bone. The deepest type of coma is coma four, where nothing at all can arouse the patient from unconsciousness. The deeper the level of coma, the worse his condition is. 

There are also different levels of spiritual coma. Some professed Christians may have gone so deep into spiritual coma that they have well nigh turned completely away from the Lord, and do not believe in Christ any more! They have fallen away from the faith completely, and that shows that they were not saved at all to begin with. The Bible teaches us that the Lord knows those who are truly his - who are truly saved and who are not saved. Those who are saved can never successfully fall away from the faith. But they will eventually awaken from their spiritual coma and come back to the Lord. 

But the Bible also teaches that there are some who never wake up at all because they were never saved, even though earlier on they may have looked as if they were saved. Hebrews 6:4-6 refers to them as 'those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,' but all that is nothing because of the end result - they have fallen away and cannot be renewed again unto repentance. They are like patients who have been so long in Coma level four that the doctor certifies them to be brain-dead. There is no life in them and it is impossible to revive them. 

Let this therefore be a warning to us therefore to make sure of our calling and election by self-examination. If you realise that you have already started to descend into a state of spiritual coma, please do not let the process continue. Take measures immediately to come out of it. You must seek for spiritual revival now, before you descend any further. Before you reach the death-like condition from which there is no awakening. This brings us to the first point of our message: 

I. Realise the Urgency of waking up from Spiritual Coma

Let us look at our text in Romans 13:11 'And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.' It is high time to awake out of sleep. Dearly beloved, how long has it been since you last had real quality quiet time with the Lord? How long has it been since you last experienced God's presence in your life in a wonderful way? How long has it been since your Bible study was a great delight to you and were discovering marvelous gems from God's Word that thrilled your soul? How long has it been since you were moved to tears by the thought of the grace of the Lord to you, a sinner?

If it has been a long time and cannot even remember when it was, it is certainly high time for you to wake up from your spiritual slumber. Please do not say to yourself that you can wait a little longer, after all, the Lord is so patient and with His children. It is true that the Lord is longsuffering toward us, but that does not give us an excuse to try His patience, and expect Him to wait a little longer. According to Romans 2:4, the goodness, forebearance and longsuffering of God must lead us to swift repentance.

Now there is another reason why there must be no thought of delaying. Verse 11 of our text tells us that 'for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.' This does not mean that we not saved yet, for salvation is already an accomplished fact for the believer (Eph 2:8 - by grace ye are saved through faith) - if you are born again we already have a place in heaven reserved for you. But salvation also has a continuing and a future aspect as well, as God's Word here mentions. And that is the salvation not just of our souls, but of our bodies. This will be effected when Jesus our Lord descends the clouds in His glory and transforms our bodies in the twinkling of an eye to be make like unto His own body. We call this great event the rapture of those who are living and for those who have died it is called the resurrection. 

And dearly beloved that day of Christ's return may be coming soon. With every passing moment, we are brought one step closer to the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. The stage is already being set in world events - We hear the news of the move toward globalisation, which must exist for a one world government to exist. We hear the news of conflicts in Israel �- the peace which the Jews are looking for never seems to materialize. This will set the stage for the Antichrist one day to gain world admiration when he successfully mediates an effective 7-year peace settlement! Time does not permit us to list more of these signs of the times. 

But the point is this: As we see these events taking place we should know that the coming of Christ is near. 'Our salvation is definitely nearer than when we first believed.' This hope must now motivate us to live with an attitude of lively expectancy. Brethren, this is not the time to be spiritually asleep, but the time to be fully awake and alert. The sense of his imminent return should fill us, both with a sense of gladness, as well as a sense of fear - gladness that He is coming to save us out of this wicked world, and fear that we might be caught unprepared to meet Him.

Jesus Himself told some parables on the perils of being unprepared for His return: In Matthew 24:43-44 - 'But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.' 

In the next chapter of Matthew Jesus told the parable of the 10 virgins (Matthew 25:1-13) also to bring out the perils of being unprepared. In this parable 5 of the virgins were wise and took spare oil with them. But 5 of them were foolish and did not take any extra oil at all. They all waited and waited for the bridegroom to come, but he delayed for a long time, and so they all slumbered and slept. When he finally came the wise virgins were prepared to receive him, but the foolish virgins found that their oil had run out and so they had to go and buy oil. By the time they were ready for the bridegroom, it was too late. Only the wise virgins were able to enter in and enjoy the marriage celebrations. 

Dearly beloved, are you going to be like the wise virgins or foolish virgins of this parable? Let us realise realise how close we are living to the time of Christ's coming and awake from our spiritual slumber. Now comes the question what should be do to awake from a spiritual comatose state? 

When a doctor deals with a comatose patient there are two things he has to do: First he needs to identify the cause of the coma - Is there a underlying pathological condition that must be resolved? For example, when a person receives a hard blow on the head and suffers a concussion, he may seem to look all right at first. But later he may get drowsy, and progress all the way from coma I to coma IV. The doctor at the hospital would suspect that the coma is caused by internal bleeding in the skull. Surgery must be carried out swiftly to drain out the blood and stop the hemorrhage.

After the cause of the coma has been removed, and the patient regains consciousness, the doctor's job is not finished yet. He cannot immediately discharge the patient. A patient who has awakened from coma must be monitored and kept from falling into another coma. Hence he will be kept in hospital for a few more days, and given suitable treatment to strengthen him.

To deal with spiritual coma, we should apply the same two-pronged approach that is applied to comatose patients: First, the underlying cause of the spiritual coma must be removed. Second, safeguards against spiritual coma must be put in place. Let us consider each of these two measures: 

II. Remove the Causes of Spiritual Coma

Looking at our text again we see this measure mentioned in vv.12,13. 'let us therefore cast off the works of darkness; Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.' Darkness is a well-known symbol for evil and sin. The works of darkness therefore refer to any sinful habits or wordly lifestyles that must be radically eliminated from our lives.

The terms 'rioting and drunkenness' refers to the wild intemperate behaviour, such as the drinking parties that the Greeks and Romans loved to indulge in at night. If you have been immersing yourself in the night life that many people indulge in, you must cut yourself off from it. Whether it is gambling or entertainment, participation in bubble-bath parties, or in making the rounds of all the famous nite spots and eating places at midnight and into the early hours of the morning, or socializing at karaoke lounges, discos, and movie houses, you must cast them off and have nothing more to do with them, now that you are resolved to live your life for the Lord Jesus Christ.

The next two terms 'chambering and wantonness' refer to immoral behaviour, such as the cohabitation of unmarried people. If you have been indulging secretly in reading or viewing pornographic material or visiting pornographic web sites and places, or involved in any kind of sexual sin, you must cut yourself off from them. The end of v.14 tells us not to make provisions for the flesh. That means you must get rid of any filthy magazines, videotapes, or pictures you have that will stir up the desires of the flesh. Feeding your mind with them is like pouring petrol onto fire. You can't keep feeding the lust and enjoy it, and expect it to remain unexpressed. The lust will want to seek expression through some form of release. This eventually leads to experimenting with an immoral practices such as adultery, and fornication. If you have you are easily tempted to fall into these sins, I would like you to resolve before the Lord right now that you will cast them off with His help.

The last two terms in v.13 is 'strife and envying' and these refer to intolerant behaviour, such as quarreling and backbiting. Some time ago there was a case of one brother who was so upset by certain unwise remarks made by another that he went all out to circulate anonymous letters to all friends of that brother, that put him in the worst possible light. Christians should never do such things. If you have been trying very hard to gain the advantage in a bitter rivalry with someone, or scheming to take revenge on others who have upset you, such attitudes and actions must be put away. If you have an uncontrollable temper and raise your voice often at others and at the slightest provocation, you must not simply say, 'I can't help it.' But you must seek to subdue your temper with God's help, and not give up until you have done it.

Dearly beloved, whatever besetting sin you have cannot be allowed to stay in your life. Hebrews 12:1 tells us that we must 'lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.' These besetting sins are spiritual deadweight. They slow you down tremendously. They hinder your spiritual growth. You cannot make progress. And if you do nothing about them, they will keep you in a spiritually comatose condition. That is why you must get them removed from your life. Regard them the way that God regards them - as things that are abominable and hateful, something that must be quickly disposed of!

And when you have disposed of these things, you must implement one more measure and that is to:

III. Restore the Safeguards Against Spiritual Coma

Now the safeguards are described at the end of v.12 as 'the armour of light' which we must put on. If we do not put on this armour of light as a safeguard, then we might fall back into our old ways and sins, and lapse into spiritual slumber again. An analogy can be found in what the Lord said in Matthew 12:43-45, where he described how a man got rid of an unclean spirit, but because he did not take the precaution to fill his life with the things of God, the unclean spirit came back found his heart all nicely swept and cleaned, and brought seven other spirits that were more wicked than him. So the last state of the man was worse than the first.

What we must do then to prevent ourselves from falling back into spiritual coma is to put on the armour of light. But what is this armour of light? This armour is amplified in Ephesians six (10-18) where Paul called it the 'whole armour of God' The spiritual armour which consists of the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the footware of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit.

In a nutshell what this means is that the old things must be replaced with new and better things that can protect you against temptation. After all sinful habits and unedifying and questionable activities have been removed from your life, fill up your time with Bible study, and with Christian fellowship. Fill your mind with memorized verses. Come to the Lord's house often, like the psalmist who said, 'One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in His temple.' (Psalm 27:4).

The thing that is most important of all is that you must fill your life with Jesus Christ. Restore to Him the first place He deserves in your heart. Spend much time developing a close intimate relationship with Him, in your daily devotions. If you keep walking with the Lord every day of your life, you will have the most powerful safeguard against spiritual coma. It is interesting to note that in v.14 of our text we are told to put on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Dearly beloved we have seen three things in today's message which we must now act upon. Firstly, let us Realise the Urgency of waking up from our Spiritual Coma, Secondly, Let us Remove whatever Causes of Spiritual Coma there is in our live. And thirdly, Restore to our lives, the Safeguards Against Spiritual Coma, and especially to put on the Lord Jesus Christ. May the Lord help each one of us this morning to do these three things without delay.

Vision & Mission

 

To build a united church family that is committed to making disciples through Salvation, Sanctification and Service, to the glory of God.

Verse for the Week

October 15 & 22 - The Cost of Discipleship

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. Matthew 16:25