Monday, April 22, 2024

2024.04.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 13:11–14

Read Romans 13:11–14

Questions from the Scripture text: What do we know (Romans 13:11)? What do we know that it’s time to do? What is nearer? Than it was when? What is far spent (Romans 13:12)? What is at hand? What should we cast off? Who includes himself in this? What should we put on? Who includes himself in this? How should we walk (Romans 13:13)? As at what time? In what six ways should we not walk? What (Whom!) must we put on in order to do this (Romans 13:14)? For what must we make no provision?

How can a Christian shake off complacency in his life? Romans 13:11–14 prepares us for the sermon in the midweek prayer meeting. In these four verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that Christians combat complacency by consideration of what has begun in them, and Who He is that is doing it. 

You know the time; it’s time to get out of bed (Romans 13:11a)! The apostle has described Christian living as love unto God, brother, and neighbor. The apostle has described Christian living as, therefore, fulfilling one’s role as a gift in the church and in the several relations into which God has placed us in this world. The apostle has described Christian living as keeping the commandments of the law. 

And now the apostle describes Christian living as waking up. The imagery is borrowed from Isaiah 60:1–3, which follows the “Awake, awake!” of Isaiah 51:17, Isaiah 52:1, which we have studied together recently. But the idea is that when we first believed (Romans 13:11b), the first rays of the light of God’s glory in Christ shone upon us. The dawn of heaven broke upon us. We began seeing His light, and we began our progress toward the promise of what we would be when the full sun shines. The fullness of our salvation hastens toward us; our salvation is nearer than when we first believed—and nearer, ever nearer, still.

The Christian who is not living as a living sacrifice to God, as a gift to his congregation, and as a beacon of good to his neighbors (even enemies and magistrates), is like that lazy person who knows that it’s time to get up, but wants to keep on going as if it is still nighttime. But the night is far spent (Romans 13:12a). It’s time to get up. Our clothes are laid out for us—“the armor of light” (verse 12b). We have all of the wonderful truth, from the first 11 chapters, about righteousness through faith, and peace with God, that assures us of the completion of salvation (cf. Ephesians 6:13–17). There can be no more beautiful or functional attire than that which the Lord has provided for us. Shall we not put it on? Does it not coax us from our slumber? The strengthening brightness of the new day matches perfectly the clothing that God has provided for us.

So, the apostle urges us to wake up and walk: “let us walk properly as in the day.” Hopefully, you are not so wicked, dear reader, as to devote your life to partying, drunkenness, unfettered immorality, and extreme immorality. Those first four items in the list in Romans 13:13 inform the last two. Strife and envy among believers is so offensive to God that He puts it in such a list as this! Indeed, there is no neutrality. There is only the binary option of that which is from Christ and that which is from the flesh. Lazy living, defaulting to what comes easily from your former nature, comes from the same place as all of those other horrible things. So, have done with all of it! 

Especially since we have been given such a glorious alternative: put on the Lord Jesus Christ. The glory of our clothing from Romans 13:12 becomes even more clear when it is described in personal terms in Romans 13:14. We do not merely put on truths or doctrines in the Christian life; we put on a Person. We embrace our shared life with the Lord Jesus Christ. He is our clothing not only in our justification, where He is our worthiness before God, but also in our sanctification, where a joint life with Him is what produces our ever-brightening character and conduct. How can we, upon whom such a day has dawned—we who belong to the light of the next world—continue living in the darkness that belongs to this world? He Who has begun this good work (Who has made His dawn to break upon us!), will bring it to completion in the day of Christ Jesus (when that sun will shine in full strength!). Wake up!

In what ways has your own living as a sacrifice unto the Lord been a reflection of the heavenly life which has begun in you in Jesus? In what ways has your own living as a gift unto your congregation been a reflection of the heavenly life which has begun in you in Jesus? In what ways has your own living as a beacon unto your neighbor been a reflection of the heavenly life which has begun in you in Jesus? By what means has the Lord given us to see the light of His glory? By what means has the Lord given us to put on the Lord Jesus Christ? What use are you making of these means?

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for saving us out of our darkness and death, and into Your light and life. Truly, by bringing us to faith in Christ, You have made the light of the knowledge of Your glory to begin to shine in our hearts in the face of Jesus Christ. Now grant that Your Spirit would make our conduct, also, to shine more and more brightly by dressing our lives in His light and His life, we ask through Him, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP104A  “My Soul, Bless the LORD!” or TPH540 “Soldiers of Christ, Arise”

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