You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober…putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. (1 Thessalonians 5:5–6, 8—NKJV)

One of the laborious duties of parents is helping our infant children to recognize that darkness is for sleeping and daylight is for living. How many long hours do you remember spending with your precious urchin, awake looking for the party, while all the rest of the world was at rest? It is a valuable lesson for family harmony when everyone understands that darkness promotes sleep and daylight is for activity.

It is no surprise that God labors with His children to help them recognize the difference between darkness and light, and between spiritual torpor and vigor. Thanks to Adam’s sin, all men enter this world in darkness and spiritual death. You do not have to teach a child to be a sinner. The sin nature is active within their little hearts and minds—after all, they got it from you. Diligent parenting is required to form these little sinners into productive members of society. Consistent, personal evangelism must be exerted so that, by the grace of God, the light of God’s love through the sacrifice of His Son on Calvary may be shed abroad in their hearts. Without His light they will abide in darkness. You owe it to your children to take nothing for granted.

In our text the night/darkness and the day/light are in direct opposition. Darkness represents slumber, indolence, laziness, slothfulness, sleepy-time, and self-interested rest. Light represents alertness, sobriety, clear vision, awareness, activity, and usefulness for others. It is no wonder that our God is described in the Bible as the One who never sleeps nor slumbers.

1 John teaches us that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. “If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:6) Light represents truth while darkness represents wrong-doing. God’s born-again children are to resemble the Nature of their heavenly Father. We are light-bearers in all we say and do.

Our text points out that there must be a clear, observable distinction between those who claim to be transformed by the blood of Jesus Christ and those who are yet under condemnation, for the debt of their sin rests upon them. Believers are never to be insensitive to things that are of importance to God, but those who are unsaved have no capacity to see the light in their blindness. Ephesians 5:14 reads, “Therefore He says: Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”

Paul’s challenge here in 1 Thessalonians is that the children of light must live watchfully and soberly. Just as he states in Romans 13:11, “And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.” There is a sense of urgency, as if the alarm has gone off at the dawning of the day and believers are to shake off their sleepy slumber, regardless of what the rest of the world is doing, and prepare for a full day of service.

The believer is to prepare by clearing his mind for the tasks of the day and putting on the armor issued to every authentic believer. There is the breastplate of faith and love which covers the vitals—the believer is privileged to be armed with the unvanquishable truth of God’s Word, practically applied in his life, along with the unfailing love of God leading to an obedient life. There is the helmet of salvation—the believer is equipped with the unflinching protection of the God-bestowed hope of eternal life.

Are you unable to recognize darkness from light? Come to Christ who is perfect light. Are you slipping back into spiritual slumber? Awaken to righteousness and sin not. Trust and obey.