The following is a condensed version of a sermon I prepared for Victor Street Bible Chapel in Dallas.
“Daddy, are we there yet?” “When will we get there?”
Little children do not have much of a sense of time. If you tell them that the GPS says we will get where we are going in 2 hours and 10 minutes, that doesn’t help them.
Children must learn how to understand time. They need to learn what time it is.
Many Christians have not learned yet how to tell spiritual time.
Do you know what time it is on the spiritual clock?
All of the commands and exhortations in the NT are time sensitive. Paul starts verse 11 with knowing the time: “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.”
Do you know the time?
I’m not talking about the hour on the clock or the date on the calendar. I’m talking about the Biblical time. I’m talking about prophetic time.
Biblically the current time is the last days. We are living in the last days before Jesus returns. It is 11:59 PM. The new day is about to begin.
That is the time we are living in. Do you think about that often?
“It is high time to awake out of sleep” means that since we are in the last days, it is important that we are morally awake.
I believe the term today is “woke.”
I looked online and discovered that today if you are WOKE, you are “…conscious of racial discrimination in society and other forms of oppression and injustice. In mainstream use, woke can also more generally describe someone or something as being ‘with it.’”
Biblically being woke, or awake, is more than that. It is being watchful for Christ’s soon return.
Notice the words, “our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.”
What does that mean? We have already been saved, as Eph 2:8-9 shows.
What is this future salvation?
Hodges says this refers to “the hope of a full and permanent deliverance from sin and from sin’s impending impact on our Christian lives. Such deliverance involves a full escape from the experience of God’s wrath through the acquisition of resurrection life. Paul has called this ‘the redemption of our body’ (8:23)” (Romans, p. 393).
John Murray puts it this way: “The day of Christ, though not yet come, is nevertheless throwing its light backward upon the present. In that light believers must now live; it is the dawning of the day of unprecedented splendor” (Romans, Vol. 2, p. 169).
Paul looked forward to being with Christ in His kingdom. Every believer should. That’s Paul’s point here. He knew his soon deliverance from this dark world and his mortal body was sooner than when he first believed.
I remember Zane told me that he hoped to be raptured in his lifetime. I have that hope too. I trust you all do as well.
Verse 12 builds on this idea: “The night is far spent, the day is at hand.”
The night is the dark time before the Lord returns. The night is the era when unrighteousness is rampant in our world.
The day is the bright time when the Lord returns. That will be the time when righteousness will be rampant. During the Millennium, Jesus’ kingdom will be characterized by righteousness.
Now we live in a dark and fallen world. Soon Jesus will establish his glorious kingdom of light.
“The day” looks at the Rapture and hints at the Bema too.
“Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.” Paul is picturing our works as our clothing.
Hodges comments, “Christians should therefore ‘get dressed’ for the arrival of the day…The Christian…should have laid aside the kind of conduct (the works) that characterize people who belong to this era of moral darkness. In short, we should be ready for the arrival of the conquering King (Rev 19:11-16) (Romans, p. 394).
It makes sense for unbelievers to live in the darkness and produce works of darkness. But it does not make sense for believers to live there and produce those works.
Believers are children of light, and we ought to produce works of the light.
Putting on the armor of light refers to producing works of light.
“Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.”
The deeds of darkness are laid out here: revelry, that is wild parties. Drunkenness, that is getting high. Those two are connected. Lewdness and lust are immoral behavior that often results from partying and drunkenness. Strife and envy also often spring from partying and drunkenness. As we walk in the darkness, we are doing the opposite of loving one another.
Verse 14 is a beautiful summary of the victorious Christian life: “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.”
Once again, Paul is using the figure of speech of clothing. Putting on the Lord Jesus Christ is powerful. This sounds like you are putting on a designer shirt. Instead of a Ralph Lauren Polo shirt, this is the Lord Jesus Christ we are to put on.
How do we put on the Lord Jesus Christ? One clue is that we “make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” Clearly Paul is alluding here to what he wrote in Romans 7 and 8. If we focus on the commandments, then we have a fleshly mindset, and we end up falling into more sin.
Hodges says, “The Christian should not spend time thinking about how he could or would facilitate the sinful desires of the flesh. His mental and moral focus should be on Jesus Christ” (Romans, p. 396).
Instead we should make provision for Christ, to please Him. If we focus on Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit within us, then we experience life and peace (Rom 8:6).
We put on Christ by knowing what time it is, by remembering that He is coming soon, and by allowing the Spirit of God to produce the deeds of light in us (Romans 8).
Richard Longenecker comments on verse 14, “We are living in ‘this present time’ under the lordship of Jesus!” (Romans, p. 985).
Hodges concludes his discussion of Rom 13:8-14 with these words, “In particular, the present verse [verse 14] can be said to be Christian living in a nutshell. Such living does not center on our worthless fleshly desires but on the Son of God Himself” (Romans, p. 397).
If we have the proper way of looking at life, the proper mindset, then Christ’s resurrection power flows through us and produces loving actions toward those around us.
The proper mindset is centered on the Lord Jesus Christ. His soon return is, as this passage shows, a vital stimulus to always focus on our Lord and Savior. We need to remember always what time it is.