The message in our text provides an attention-getting warning to those who claim to be Christians but indulge in or even allow the evil practices of Ephesians 5:3-7. A Christian does not, and indeed cannot live a life of fornication, or uncleanness, or covetousness, or filthiness, or foolish talking, or jesting (vv.3-4), for no such person "hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. . . . For because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience" (vv.5-6). Those who practice such things are "fools" (v.15).
While we as Christians must always be willing to bring the saving message of God's grace to the sinner, we must not be "partakers with them" (v.7) in their sins and indeed must "have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness" (v.11). Instead, we must "reprove them" (v. 11), pointing out the consequences of their actions and focusing their attention on Christ who "hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour" (v.2) in payment of their penalty. All that must be done is to accept this forgiveness. In doing so, we who are "light in the Lord" (v.8) will shed light in their darkness, for "all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light" (v.13).
As children of the light (v.8), our lives must exhibit the "fruit of the Spirit . . . goodness and righteousness and truth" (v.9). We must prove "what is acceptable unto the Lord" (v.10), "walk[ing] circumspectly, . . . wise[ly]" (v.15), "Redeeming the time, because the days are evil" (v.16).
The sleeper in our text, whether he be an unbeliever or a professing Christian, is "asleep"--locked in moral insensibility. "Awake, Sleeper!" Paul would say, "and accept the God-given remedy for your plight!" JDM