The alarm clock is designed to wake us up. An interesting invention added to the alarm is the snooze button. By pushing this button the sleeper is granted another 5 or so minutes of rest. Some have mastered the art of pushing the button more than once. Whether this is you or not, as Christians we must not be pushing the spiritual snooze button when it comes to our Christian life. We need to wake up and be alert and be faithful.
In the final passage of our series (Rom. 13:11-14) the Apostle Paul sets an alarm designed to wake up sleepy Christians! He begins by saying, “Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep” (13:11a). This is a strong wake up call. What is the occasion for such urgency? He provides the reason in the last part of verse 11, “For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed”. The word “salvation” or “saved” is from the Greek word that means “to rescue” or “to deliver from danger”. Here is it is used in a spiritual sense. Salvation is exclusively found in the only One who can save, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Acts 4:12). There is only one salvation and one way in which it can be received (cf. John 14:6). When it comes to this salvation, we need to understand it as it is presented in Scripture – a salvation in three tenses (past, present and future):
Past: Saved from the Penalty of Sin (Justification) Eph. 2:8; 2 Tim. 1:9; Titus 3:5
Present: Saved from the Power of Sin (Sanctification) 1 Cor. 1:18; 2 Cor. 2:15
Future: Saved from the Presence of Sin (Glorification) Rom. 5:9, 10; 13:11
So when Paul speaks of salvation being nearer, he is referring to the great occasion in which the believer will be glorified. Glorification occurs immediately for those who die to be with the Lord and will occur for all God’s people who are alive at the time of the Lord’s return. Adding to the urgency, Paul says, “The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light” (13:12). The remaining part of this passage provides two compelling commands for the believer living in light of the Second Coming – cast off and put on.
CAST OFF (Romans 13:13)
When it comes to the Christian’s conduct, they are to be alert and aware of their responsibilities in light of Christ’s second coming. Paul says, “Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy” (13:13). In this verse there are three couplets of sin the Christian whose eyes are on the return of Christ are to avoid. Couplet one (“orgies and drunkenness”) focuses on senseless sins. Couplet two (“sexual immorality and sensuality”) focuses on sexual sins, and couplet three (“quarreling and jealousy”) focuses on social sins.
PUT ON (Romans 13:14)
The believer, whose life is lived in the light of Christ’s return covers and consumes himself with the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul concludes, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires”. A young man, whose life was characterized by immorality, was weeping over his sin and sad condition. In the background was a child singing, “Take up and read! Take up and read!” He was compelled by the providence of God to read his Scriptures. He picked them up and his eyes fell upon the words of Romans 13:13-14. After reading this text, he said, “I had no wish to read more and no need to do so. For in an instant, as I came to the end of the sentence, it was as though the light of confidence flooded into my heart and all the darkness of doubt was dispelled.” This was the conversion of Augustine (354- 430).
Romans 13:11-14 is the Bible’s wake up call to all Christians. The reality is, the Lord Jesus Christ is coming back. So then let us live in the light of this reality.
Suggested Study Questions:
- How does being spiritually sleepy cloud our judgment and cause us to be more prone to compromise?
- How can we practically allow the reality of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ to be a motivation for godly living?
- Discuss the meaning and significance of the three tenses of salvation.
- How does the daily practice of submitting to Christ’s lordship help us in the pursuit of holiness?