The German theologian and reformer Martin Luther (1483-1546) once told a sobering legend about what makes the devil happy:
“The devil once held a great anniversary,” he explained, “at which his emissaries were convened to report the results of their several missions.”
One minion remarked, “I let loose the wild beasts on a caravan of Christians, and their bones are now bleaching on the sands.”
“What of that?” the devil scolded. “Their souls were all saved!”
“I drove the east wind against a ship freighted with Christians,” said another, “and they were all drowned.”
“What of that? Their souls were all saved!” the devil chastised once more.
But said another, “For ten years I tried to get a single Christian asleep, and I succeded and left him so.”
“Then the devil shouted, and the night stars of hell sang for joy,” Luther concluded.
Luther was correct: nothing delights the devil more than a sleeping Christian. If you are a believer, Satan isn’t gratified by your death. But he exults and makes merry when you slumber on the bed of apathy and lukewarm spirituality. Those who snooze on the couch of indifference pose no threat to the savage kingdom of darkness (Eph. 2:2; Col. 1:13; 1 John 5:19). Those who catnap on the recliner of spiritual lethargy are unsuspecting prey to the roaring lion’s ferocious attacks (1 Pet. 5:8).
The Lord calls you to keep your eyes peeled for spiritual danger like a soldier on nightwatch, no matter how tempting it may be to catch a wink. That is why Paul wrote, “So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation” (1 Thess. 5:6-8). Don’t doze off. Remain vigilant. You can’t afford to sleep when you are fighting a deadly war (Eph. 6:10-20; 1 Pet. 2:11).
One dependable way to stay awake is to remain active in the Lord’s service. You are less likely to drift into the coma of moral carelessness and laxity when you are engaged in activity that is pleasing to the Lord. Idleness, on the other hand, will quickly lull you to sleep. Stay awake, and you’ll stay alive: “Give your eyes no sleep and your eyelids no slumber; save yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the hand of the fowler” (Prov. 6:4-5). Wake from sleep, dear Christian, and rob the devil of his delight!
Bible Gleanings is a widely-read weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky.
Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English Shepherd), and Dot (Bluetick Beagle).