The context of the verse provides the primary answer to the first question. This chapter is all about the reality of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and the saints. The themes of sin and death and righteousness and life are woven throughout. Sleep is acquainted with death and sin. Take a look at I Thessalonians 4:15-17. These verses talk about those Christians who are asleep in physical death and their ultimate resurrection at the Rapture. Going on from there to chapter 5 verse 6 talks of those Christians who are asleep in their sin. The latter need to wake up and be ready with Jesus.
This latter sleep is ultimately caused by sin. It can be recognized by things like:
- Everday life seems perfectly normal. I'm just doing what everybody else is doing. Status quo. In other words, I fit in just fine with the rest of the world.
- A still, small voice of the Holy Spirit telling the conscience that something is wrong. In other words, judgment and conviction are pending.
- Believing that everything you were ever taught, whether by school teachers, parents, or friends, is the absolute, unquestionable truth.
This is what experience shows me. I would like to back it up with Biblical conviction. But first, I would like some input from my readers. Then, I will put it all together and blog some more.