You'll remember last time we began an examination of the last paragraph of Romans 13, finishing up this great chapter. We're looking at verses 11 through 14. Let me just remind you of our text by reading it as you look at your Bible.
"And that knowing the time, that it is now an hour to awake out of sleep, for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent. The day is at hand. Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk honestly as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in immorality and wantonness or shamelessness, not in strife and envying but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ and make not provision for the flesh to fulfill its lusts."
We return then to this very rich passage to consider what it means in verse 14 to put on the Lord Jesus Christ. That's the key idea in this passage, as we noted last time. The imagery, frankly, is very familiar to any student of Scripture. The idea of putting on a garment was an image that biblical writers used very often. Putting on Jesus Christ is to be cloaked in Christ, to be covered with Jesus Christ. That is, that when anybody sees you he sees Christ, when anyone sees you she sees Christ. Christians then are to be Christ-like. We remember, don't we, 1 John 2, which says if we say we abide in Him we ought to walk even as He walked. And all of us know that the goal of the Christian's living is that he might represent Jesus Christ, be like Christ was.
The garment then Paul calls for is the garment of Christ's likeness. He uses all three terms, put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, to emphasize the fullness of the Christian's Christ-likeness. In every sense fully we are to be like the Savior.
Now we already established, and I only want to mention it very briefly, that we established last time that at the time of salvation when a person puts his faith or her faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, at that particular time there is a sense in which you put on Christ. Every believer puts on the Lord Jesus Christ at salvation. We receive His righteousness, His incorruptible and divine nature. We are in Christ. It is no longer I that lives but Christ lives in me. So at salvation in a positional sense we put on Jesus Christ. This is justification or being made right with God. The only way we could be made right with God would be to be made like Christ because only Christ is acceptable to God. The rest of us are sinners. So we are covered, as it were, in the righteousness of Christ. We have been made the righteousness of Christ as He on the cross was made sin for us. So His nature, His holiness, His eternal life, His righteousness, covers us and when God looks at us He sees the righteousness of Jesus Christ covering us. That occurs at the time at the moment of salvation.
But also, we remember then that Paul is writing this to believers. Why would he say then to believers who have already in that sense put on Christ, put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ? Why would he ask that if that had already occurred? The distinction you need to make is between what is positional, what is in justification, and what is practical and a part of sanctification. As Christians, before God we are covered in the righteousness of Christ but in the matter of living our lives we are not yet all that we should be to be like Christ, right? So we need to bring the reality of our living into harmony with who we are before God in Jesus Christ. We must appropriate that righteousness given to us. We must yield to that power given to us to live a pure and holy and sinless and godly life. And therein is the struggle. When you came to Christ in justification, you put on Christ in a positional sense, but in the living of your life day in and day out it is obvious to all of us that we are less than what Christ was, is that not so? None of us has attained, Paul says. We're still striving. And that is the process of sanctification. That is why we must gaze at the Lord, spend our time concentrating on Him, 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, so that in looking at His glory we can be transformed into that by the work of the Holy Spirit. So, when Paul calls here in verse 14 for us to put on the Lord Jesus Christ, he is calling for that practical appropriation in our day to day living that we be pure and sanctified.
Now it is not only in Romans 13 where this is made a strong statement but also another passage that I want you to look at because it's a very, very important one and very parallel to this. It's in Titus chapter 2. Would you look there for a moment? In studying God's Word we know, of course, that the Bible though it is composed of many different books written by many different authors, has total unity because God the Holy Spirit superintended all those several authors. And so we can go to Titus and see essentially the same principles of truth we see in Romans. In this case the Holy Spirit is not only the author of both books but so is the apostle Paul. And in Titus chapter 2 we read in verse 11, "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation has appeared to all man."
Now salvation has come to all. Salvation has come. And I think he's talking about those here that are redeemed. Salvation comes and redeems and it redeems all kinds of people. But to all the people to whom salvation comes there is an immediate response to that. And that is indicated in verse 12. Teaching us, and that's so important, you ought to underline that. We think so often of salvation as an end, but salvation is a means in a sense. We think about well, if we've come to salvation in Jesus Christ and our eternity is cared for and our sins are forgiven, that's the end. No, salvation has indeed come to us, covered us with the righteousness of Christ, done away with our sin, prepared us for heaven, brought us into a relationship with God, all of that to do what? According to verse 12? To teach us that if we have received the righteousness of God, if we have been covered with the righteousness of Christ positionally, that should teach us that in our daily living we need to be, verse 12, denying ungodliness. That's asebeia in the Greek. It means an unwillingness to worship. Salvation teaches us that we ought to worship God and it ought to end our unwillingness to worship, our unwillingness to respect God, our unwillingness to honor God, our unwillingness to give God His due and His will and His way and obey His Word.
In other words, ungodliness, asebeia, is basically denying God what is rightfully God's. And that is our worship and our praise and our love and our obedience. Salvation teaches us then that we should deny that and give God what is rightfully His. I mean, if He has given us righteousness and clothed us in the righteousness of Christ then we are to return to Him righteousness in our behavior. And that is essentially what our text is saying in Romans 13. "Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh." If you are cloaked in Christ there is no place for ungodliness.
Thomas Manton, great Puritan writer, among the many marvelous things that he said made one statement that I have been unable to forget and the statement is this, "Every corruption has a voice.” “Every corruption has a voice." It's a very insightful statement. And you find that the voices of corruption call loudly within us, don't they? And they call loudly outside of us to pull us into evil. In all of us there are voices and ungodliness has a voice and that voice in us cries out against the will and way of God, against God's Word.
But saving grace has a voice, too. And the voice of saving grace teaches us to deny ungodliness and to deny worldly lusts. And therein lies the battle that rages in us.
Now notice he says we are to live righteously, soberly, godly in this present age. In other words, if we put on the Lord Jesus Christ positionally, we ought to put on the Lord Jesus practically. In so doing that we have to say no to ungodliness, we have to say no to worldly lusts, that is, desires that pander our humanness and fulfill desires which are contrary to the Word of God. And we are to live soberly, righteously, godly in this present age. Now why? Verse 13, "Looking for that blessed hope, even the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ who gave Himself for us," and so forth.
Why are we to get our act together? Because Jesus is what? Is coming. We're looking for that glorious hope, the glorious appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ. And so in the present time while we wait for the Lord, it's the time for us to clean up the life. We are awaiting His coming and in waiting for Him we are called to holiness.
Now go back, will you, to Romans chapter 13 and you'll find that that is the very thrust that is there. The reason I took you to Titus 2 was to show you that this is a common occurrence and we'll look even at another passage which reinforces the same thing. Paul calls believers in verse 14 to put on the Lord Jesus Christ and not make any plans to fulfill the lust of the flesh. Why? Back in verse 11, "For our salvation is nearer than when we believed." In other words, we're nearer to the coming of Christ and the fullness of salvation than we've ever been before. So again it is the anticipation of the coming of Christ that becomes the motivation for the believer's obedience and the believer's life of righteousness. Put on the Lord Jesus Christ because He's coming, because He's coming.
Now I told you last time, and that's the general thrust of the passage, I told you last time because we are to put on the Lord Jesus Christ, because He is coming back there are three commands given here, very simple military commands, wake up, throw off and put on. And those commands will give us the understanding of the text.
The first one is wake up. We looked at it last time. Do you remember? Look at verse 11. Basically it says, "Knowing the time because you know what season it is," and what season is it? It's the season immediately preceding what great event? The coming of Christ. We don't know when in terms of the hour, the word here is not chronos time. It's not chronological time, it's not clock time. It's not hour time. It's the word kairos, which means seasons, epochs, eras. It has to do with sweeping epochs of history. In other words, we know it is the season prior to the Second Coming. And because we know the time, we know it is an hour to awake out of sleep, verse 11. It's time to wake up, to be alert. This is no time for spiritual slumber for now is our salvation — that is the full extent of our salvation, our glorification when Jesus comes — nearer than when we believed. Is that not so? Every day you live from your salvation on, you're one day nearer to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. You're one day nearer to the fullness of Christ's likeness. You're one day nearer to glory. And because of that, and we know that there is no great prophetic event that's going to come prior to the coming of the Lord. It's the next event. We know that it's time to wake up. It's time to wake up. He's talking about urgency. That's the word, urgency.
And the church has always had to live in the light of this. Go back just a moment with me to Acts chapter 1 and let me give you another scenario here that the Lord gave and His angels to the disciples at His ascension into heaven. After He rose from the dead He was with them 40 days, then He ascended in a cloud into heaven. And just to remind you of that scene, remember that they were asking in verse 6, "Will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" In other words, is this the time when You're going to bring Your kingdom and You're going to rule the world, Lord, is this the time when You're going to set up the millennial reign and all of that? And He said in verse 7, "It's not for you to know those times or seasons the Father's put in His own power." You can't know the specifics of that. That's in the power of God to know. But in the meantime, while you're waiting, you will receive (What? verse 8) power after the Holy Spirit has come on you and you'll be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, the uttermost part of the earth. And He starts where they were, Jerusalem, then goes to the next area and then the next area and finally the world. It's not for you to know the time but in the meantime you're going to be filled with the Spirit. "And when He had spoken these things they beheld, He was taken up, a cloud received Him out of their sight and they were looking steadfastly toward heaven as He went up and two men stood by them in white apparel." Here appear two angels. Now what are the angels going to say? They're looking up; they've just seen something that's absolutely unbelievable. They've just seen a man go from earth into a cloud and into heaven, astounding.
And these two angels say to them in verse 11, "Ye men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing into heaven?" And you might ask, "What else? Look what's happening. We've never seen this before, where do you expect us to be looking?" But the intent of their question is, "Why are you looking (and the verb is “longingly”) as if you're losing someone?" Then this, "This same Jesus (not a different one) who is taken up from you into heaven shall (What?) so come in like manner as you've seen Him go into heaven." From the very beginning when Jesus left the earth, He told them He would be back. That then becomes the motivation for them to fulfill the commission of being witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, the uttermost part of the earth.
The Second Coming here is stated to be the next event after the ascension in redemptive history. You say, "Well, it's a long time coming." Yes, but it's still the next event. It's still the next event. And every day you live you get closer to that event and so do I. And you say, "Well, I'm not sure I believe in the Second Coming." Well if you believe in the first coming, if you believe the prophet said Jesus would come, He came, He was born the way He said He would be born, He lived the way they said He would live, He died the way they said He would die, He was buried the way they said He would be buried, He rose from the dead as they said He would, He ascended into heaven and He says He's coming back. The track record is pretty good. I think we ought to have confidence that what He said about His Second Coming is believable. And He'll be back. We don't want to be like scoffers who say, "Well, all things continue as they were, where is the sign of His coming?" as Peter said. They've forgotten that all things don't continue the way they've always been. Have they forgotten the flood? No, things will change when Christ comes.
So, our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. Now go back again to Romans 13. We'll look at the text. The church then has always lived in the light of the fact that the next event in redemptive history is the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. And I'm not going to get into all the facets of that, the rapture, the tribulation, the judgments, and so forth and so on, just that general thought that the next event is the return of Christ.
Now with that in mind it's time to wake up. Verse 12 says, "The night is far gone and the day is at hand." Now you have two phrases that are really linked together and what they tell us is this: The period of man's day is ending and the period of God's day is coming. In other words, Paul is saying, man's day is coming to an end and God's day is about to begin. We know that's true. The period of man's day is a brief period. You say, "Well, wait a minute, it's gone on since they said this for a couple of thousand years." Yeah, oh that's a very brief period. And you remember what Peter said, "A day with the Lord is as a thousand years and a thousand years is as a day." And even a life, even a lifespan, a normal life span of 60 or 70 years James says is a vapor that appears for a little time and vanishes away. The brevity of life, the brevity of even decades and even centuries, when compared with the eons of endless eternity is but a flicker. And the next event is on the horizon. The night is far spent, the night of man's day, the night of sin, the night of the fallenness of the world is soon coming to an end. And God's day, the dawning of the kingdom of Jesus Christ, is coming. Sometimes we think we can almost see it on the horizon.
First Peter 4:7, do I need to remind you of what it says? “The end of all things is near. The end of all things is near.” I think James felt that same feeling in his heart. "Be patient," he says in James 5:8, "the coming of the Lord draws near." All of the biblical writers and Christians throughout all the years have realized that the coming of Christ is near. We think it's long because what we see is this little slice of time that we have in the midst of an endless eternity. But in God's sight it's very near and nearer today than it's ever been. So the simple principle that Paul relates to begin with is it is time for you to wake up. It is time for you to wake up. You can't be sleeping when man's day is coming to an end and God's day is so very near.
And somebody always asks the question, "Well how near is it?" I don't know that. It's not for me to know that. I just know it's next, I don't know how near it is. Sometimes I think it will be tomorrow. I mean, I look at the revival of the nation Israel and I remember that in the Scripture it talks about the restoration of that nation in the end times and I ask myself that absolutely amazing question: How can there be Jews as pure as they were in Old Testament times still alive on the earth when there's no other race of people that ancient that even exists except by the preserving hand of God? And how can that little tiny nation maintain its own identity when it has been a battleground and a bloody place through all of the centuries? But it has and God has His purpose. Scripture gives us many pictures of what to expect in the end time and we see them so often coming to pass in our own day.
Now this should be a great warning to unbelievers, shouldn't it, that Jesus is coming soon. Do you remember what Paul wrote to the Thessalonians? In 2 Thessalonians, his second epistle to them, chapter 1 verse 5, he talks about the righteous judgment of God and then he goes on to explain that. In verse 7 he says, "The Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven when the Lord Jesus comes with His mighty angels in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power."
In other words, Paul says when the Lord Jesus comes it's going to be terrible for those that don't know Him. It's going to be terrible for those that do not love Him, that do not believe in Him, that have not received Him. And so it ought to be a motivation to those that don't even know Christ that Jesus is coming very soon.
Furthermore it ought to be a great motivation to us. I mean, just the anticipation of the return of Christ ought to alter the way we live. I can remember when I was a kid when I was in class and the teacher would leave the room and chaos would just break loose. And then you'd hear the pitter-patter of those orthopedic wedgies coming back toward the door, and as soon as they got anywhere near the door, everybody zap in the desk, you know, and writing and studying and looking, you know, angelic. I mean, it's the same thing when you drive on the freeway and you're just doing your thing until you see a black-and-white rolling along and then you're back to 55 singing hymns, you know. I mean, there's a certain sense in which the presence of an authority alters our behavior. And how can we respond to human authority like that and not respond to the eminency of the coming of Jesus Christ who is about to enter the room? It should be great motivation. It certainly was to the Bible writers.
Back again to 1 Peter, I mentioned to you 1 Peter 4:7 which says, "The end of all things is at hand." So what? Well then it says, "Be ye therefore sober minded, watch unto prayer, have fervent love among yourselves, use hospitality, use your gifts," and so forth and so on. I mean, get with it. Jesus is coming. It's the same thing I read a few moments ago from James 5:8, "The coming of the Lord draws near." So what does that mean? "Murmur not one against another." In other words, it's time to take a look at how you're living your life. Shape up. The judge stands before the door, James says in chapter 5 verse 9. I mean, He's waiting at the door. You better be careful how you are acting.
In 2 Corinthians, you know it very well, the passage in chapter 5 and verse 10, "We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ that everyone may receive the things done in his body according to that he hath done them, whether they be good or worthless. The time is coming when we stand before our Lord." And we're not going to be condemned for our sin. Christ already bore our condemnation, but we're going to be judged on whether what we've done is good or useless. And we when we stand before Christ certainly do want to be commended for being faithful to the one that we say we love. If we know He's coming, it ought to change the way we behave.
I can remember when my dad was an evangelist, I was a little kid. We had a lot of kids at our house and sometimes when Dad was away it was kind of hard on Mom. The kids would take some liberties that they normally wouldn't take. But when she would say, "Dad will be home in a couple of days," boy, we really changed our act because we wanted a good report and she would forget what happened for a week and a half and only remember the last two days, you know. I mean, moms are like that, aren't they? I mean, the knowledge of his imminent return had an impact on all of our behavior, and so it should be with the imminent return of our blessed Lord who will come, it says in 1 Corinthians 4:5, and bring to light the hidden things of darkness and make manifest the councils of the heart and then shall every man have praise from God. He's going to come and evaluate our service to Him.
So, back again to Romans; Paul says it's time to wake up because the coming of Christ is next. The night is far spent and the day is next. That's what that means. The day is next. It is imminent. And the day here is emblematic of the day of Christ, the day of the Lord, the day of His kingdom, the day of His coming. The word "day" is very often used of the return of Christ. Even in Matthew 7, "Many shall say unto Me, in that day, Lord, Lord," and the term day is commonly associated with the coming of Christ. In Hebrews 10 it says that we're to get our act together, right? Stimulating one another to love and good works and much the more as you see what approaching? The day approaching. So the concept of the day biblically is related often to the coming kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is the day as opposed to the night and the darkness of man's sin. Man rules over the earth, Satan is the prince of the earth, and the day is coming when the darkness of Satan's dominion and the darkness of man's vice regency under Satan will come to an end and Jesus Christ will come in the dawning of a new day. I love what Jude calls it, he calls it in Jude verse 6, "The judgment of that great day,” that great day when the Lord Himself comes and the darkness will end. Hebrews 10:37 says, "For yet a little while and He that shall come will come and will not tarry." It was the next event and they didn't know but it would happen in a week. And they were meant to live in that expectation, as all saints have always been and we are as well. The difference between them and us is that we're that much closer.
The nighttime of world history will give way to the daytime of Christ's glorious kingdom. And Revelation 11 says He'll subject all the kingdoms of all the world to Himself. The book of Revelation pictures His coming as great light and His light and His glory fills the whole earth. It is day and it is Christ's day. Now that means wake up, urgency.
The second command is throw off, throw off. And it's in verse 12 and a very simple one, "Let us therefore throw off the works of darkness." Let us therefore throw off the works of darkness. Now that sounds reasonable if the dawn is breaking. “Throw off” actually means to lay aside. It carries the idea of repentance spiritually. It could be used for just throwing off your night clothes. And that's really the imagery here. But it also has the connotation of repenting, that is, of cleansing, of dumping your sin. And the Scripture certainly is replete with injunctions to the fact that believers are to get rid of sin. We have the resource of righteousness within us by the grace of God and we are to dispense with sin.
In Psalm 109, listen to verse 18. It really fits this same imagery, "As he clothed himself with cursing as with his garment." “As he clothed himself with cursing as with his garment.” There's that same imagery. Here's a man whose characteristic personality trait is cursing and he sees it, the psalmist does, as a garment. That's the kind of garment we're to throw off. That's the kind of garment we're to eliminate, that we're not to be clothed with that who belong to Christ.
In Ephesians 4:22 it says that you have put off concerning the former manner of life, the old man, corrupt according to its deceitful lusts. When you were saved in a positional sense you dumped that. Now if you've got any garments still on, throw it off, get rid of it. Colossians 3 says the same thing in verse 8 and 9, and you're familiar with that wonderful chapter. It says, "Put off (or throw off) anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, dirty talk out of your mouth, lie not one to another," and so forth. Get rid of that stuff. Throw it off, it has no place in your life. Hebrews 12:1 says we're in a race. Let us lay aside every what? Weight and the sin that does so easily beset us. You don't go out on a track to run a race in an overcoat, not if you have any sense you don't. You get rid of it, you throw it off. And that's essentially what 2 Peter 2:1 is saying, laying aside all evil and malice and guile and deceit. Then desire the pure milk of the Word that you may grow. So first wake up.
In other words, realize what time it is, people, do you realize that? We're living in a time in history when the next event is the coming of Jesus Christ. We don't know when it will be, it will happen at an unexpected moment when we least think it will happen. He will come as a thief in the night, Peter says. That is He's not going to announce it, it's going to be a coming that is stealthy and quiet and there will be an instantaneous rapture of the saints, the Bible teaches. We don't know when it's coming but we know this, we're nearer to it now than we have ever been. And already it seems that time enough has passed. So wake up.
And now that you're awake to the fact that it's almost morning and Christ is going to bring His kingdom, get rid of your dirty night clothes. Now the imagery here is just really marvelous. The idea is of a soldier. And the soldier has been wearing the party clothes, the garments of a wild orgy that he's been engaged in all through the night. And he's finally fallen asleep at the dawn and he's still clothed in the clothes of his orgy, of his wild night. And the commander says, "Look, wake up, it's almost dawn and get off those night clothes that you've been wearing and get on your armor," it says in verse 12 at the end. Get ready for a day of...of battle. When the day arrives you don't want to be found clothed in the garments of your wild orgy, you want to be looking respectable as the soldier that you are. Beautiful imagery.
The world may be having a wild party and at somewhere along the line you may have decided to put on the garments with them and do what they've been doing but it's time for you to get that stuff off because Jesus is coming. And when He gets here you want to be sure that you appear as a soldier that you are. Take off your spiritual night clothes and put on your armor.
So, the Lord here is talking about purity. First urgency, second purity, purity, cast off the works of darkness. Darkness is always a metaphor for sin, always a metaphor for evil. The deeds of darkness are the deeds of evil. And we're to put those things off.
It's a very simple message. Darkness is associated with sin. It tells us that, doesn't it, in 1 John chapter 1. You remember that passage. "God is light (verse 5) and in Him is (No what?) no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with Him and walk in darkness, we lie and do not the truth." You see, darkness and God don't go together. Sin and God don't go together therefore sin is pictured by darkness. And we are to put off the things of the darkness.
In Ephesians chapter 5 and verse 8 it says, "You were once darkness but now you're light in the Lord. Walk as children of light." I mean, put your armor on, look like the soldier of light that you are. Don't be dressed in the garments of darkness. Do you want to be found that way when the Lord comes? Garbed in the darkness garments that the world wears, doing the things the world does, or do you want to be found as one who belongs to Christ? That's the issue here.
Listen to Job 24 and we'll draw this to a conclusion for tonight. He's describing evil, "They are of those that rebel against the light. They know not its ways or abide in its paths. The murderer rising with the light kills the poor and needy and in the night is as a thief. The eye also of the adulterer waits for the twilight saying, no eye shall see me, and disguises his face. In the dark they dig through houses which they have marked for themselves in the day time. They know not the light. For the morning is to them even as the shadow of death, for if one know them they are in the terrors of the shadow of death."
Those who commit sin do so in the dark that they won't be discovered. Isn't that what it's saying? For someone to see them and know them is the terror of the shadow of death. So they do their thievery in the night. They do their adultery in the night. They do their murder in the night. They do their rebellion in the night. I mean, the world is a world of darkness. The world is wearing the garments of evil, either engaging in the wild party or sleeping it off, but the dawn is coming, the dawn is coming. And it is high time for Christians to be sure that in the coming dawn they're not caught wearing the garments of the world. "Awake thou that sleepest," Ephesians 5:14 says, "Christ will give you light." We cannot be found that way and we must throw off the works of darkness.
Now what are those works? First of all, he mentions as an illustration of the kind of thing that we are not to have in our lives, the word “reveling.” Now that is an interesting word in the Greek, it's the word kōmos and it basically means carousing, or wild parties, or wild rioting, or wild orgies of any kind. Originally that word kōmos was used to identify the celebration that occurred when somebody returned home with a triumph. A group of friends would gather around this triumphant person coming home probably home from the games, the Isthmian Games or the Olympic Games or some other games, and his friends would gather around him and they would celebrate the victory that he had won. And that's where the word originated. But it came to mean nothing more than a noisy group of street carousers, a group of half-drunk people carrying on their wild party through the night, including music and dancing and drinking very often in honor of some god like Bacchus who was the god of orgies and drunkenness. Late night drinking parties with sex and music were the kōmos of the day of the apostle Paul.
And so what he says is this is a part of the darkness. This is not a part of the Christian's experience. We have no place in a drunken party. We have no place in a brawling barroom. We have no place in a late-night carousing around the streets up to no good. That's not for a Christian to be engaged in. That is a typical sin of the darkness. And by the way, it is also mentioned as such in Galatians 5:21. The same word is used there. We are not to be engaged in what is the evidence of the flesh, envying, murders, drunkenness and there it is, kōmos again, carousing, wild parties, exercises of uninhibited drunkenness in the night. No Christian is to indulge in that kind of activity. It is a typical scene of the darkness.
In 1 Peter again, I think it's chapter 4 and verse 3, it says, "For the time passed of our life," that's before we were saved, "was sufficient to have wrought the will of the pagans,” or the Gentiles, “when we walked in lasciviousness, lust, excess of wine,” and there's that word “revelings and carousings," again. That's something from the past of our lives, not the present. We are to have no part in that at all. That fits into the category of the deeds of darkness.
And to that he adds the word “drunkenness,” which is, of course, a very parallel idea, because the wild parties are usually engaged in drinking and drunkenness as you well know. The word is methē, it is a companion word. Literally that word means in its origins a drinking bout, like who can guzzle the most, the kind of intentional drunkenness, not inadvertent but trying to consume as much as possible. Again it's mentioned in Galatians 5:21 as an expression of the lust of the flesh, envying, murder and drunkenness, drinking bouts, indulging in as much excess alcohol as is possible for whatever reasons the heart may assign. And again that's a typical deed of darkness. I mean, Paul is talking to us about something we're very, very familiar with. It goes on in our society all the time, but not for the life of a Christian. We, when we come to Jesus Christ and live in the light of His Second Coming and put on the armor of light and throw off the garments of the darkness, say goodbye to all wild parties and drunkenness for good.
Then he adds two more, immorality and shamelessness. Now the word “immorality” here is a most interesting choice of words. He could have used the word pornē from which we get fornication or pornography in English, which means sexual sin. But he chooses to use a most interesting word. It's the word koitē. And the word simply means bed. It means bed. It can be used in even a good sense, such as in Hebrews 13:4 — and there are only four places it's used in the New Testament — where it says, "The bed is undefiled," and there it is used of a marital bed. But here when he says “bed,” and that's all he says, wild parties, drunkenness, immorality and shamelessness, and the word “immorality” is just the word “bed,” he is assuming that we understand it is the bed that the immoral drunkard finds himself in. It is the illicit bed. It is the bed of fornication. It is the bed of adultery, the forbidden bed. And again the same word is used in describing the lust of the flesh in Galatians chapter 5 and verse 19. It's the same idea where we are told that the works of the flesh are fornication, uncleanness and lasciviousness. It is in that case a different word, I should note, it is a different word but it is the same sin of immorality that is in view as an expression of the flesh in Galatians chapter 5. So the forbidden bed is added to the list.
And then another most fascinating word. The word you have perhaps in the Authorized version is “wantonness.” The word I like to translate “shamelessness” is the word aselgeia and it basically means to be without shame. It means to indulge yourself in sin without any compunction. It is the parading of senseless, shameless vice, no restraint. Usually, by the way and in Galatians 5:19, it is translated lasciviousness. It is unbridled sexual perversion and evil that knows no shame. I've often asked myself, I understand how some people can fall into sin, I understand how anyone for that matter can fall into sin, I understand that people can be drawn and attracted when they are weak into...into the sins of sex, but it is harder for me to understand how people can indulge themselves in those sins and carry no sense of shame about it. And almost parade it as if it is something to be proud about, no thought of decency, no thought of honor, no protection of reputation, flaunted debauchery, abandonment to shamelessness. That, too, is part of the sins of the darkness, lustful greed, animal appetites, sheer self- indulgence without any thought of what it does to your character or the character of anyone else. People who have become so enslaved to evil desire that they no longer feel any shame, those are the deeds of the darkness, wild parties, drunkenness, immorality, the forbidden bed without shame.
And then he adds two others, also, and not an exhaustive list but certainly a representative one, strife and envying. The word strife simply means contention, it's the word eris. It means to contend, to fight. It is the spirit of antagonistic competitiveness. It is the spirit that says, "I'm going to get my way if I have to step on your neck to do it." It comes basically out of a heart desire for singular prestige, for singular power, for singular prominence. It comes from a heart desire to possess everything, no matter what anybody else may have to forfeit in the process. It is that spirit that is intolerant of anyone else's success. It is intolerant of anyone else's possessions. It would steal everything from everybody if it could get away with it. It is the spirit of the one who is unwilling to take second place. It is the macho spirit. It is the utterly self-indulgent spirit. It knows no humility. It is the spirit in contemporary terms of egomania. I want it all for me and I want it all right now and I want it whether anybody else suffers or not. So characteristic of fallen man, typically a deed of the darkness, also mentioned in Galatians chapter 5 verse 20 as another mark of the lust of the flesh.
And finally and connected to that sin is the sin of envying. If you live for number one and are an ego maniac, you will for certain envy anything anyone else possesses that you want. By the way, the word is zēlos, from which we get the word “zealous.” It can be a good word. There are things that you should desire that are legitimate to desire. But it is used here in an evil sense. In a good sense it means zeal or enthusiasm, in a bad sense it means envy and jealousy and that is its intention here. And again it is also used in Galatians 5 and verse 20 as one of those indicators of the lust of the flesh.
Now all of these, says Paul, are passions of the darkness. They are all typical deeds of the darkness. The wild parties and the drunkenness, they go together. The forbidden bed and the shamelessness, they go together. The egomania and the envy and jealousy, they go together. And there is no place in the life of a believer for any of those things. And if you see anything in your life remotely related to those things, throw it off, throw it off. They are garments of the night and no Christian should be found when the dawn breaks and the Savior arrives wearing those kinds of garments. Throw them off. That's Paul's call to us.
In writing to Titus he said, "We were once foolish, we were once disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another, but after the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared not by works of righteousness which we have done but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that being justified by His grace we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life." And now we don't live for those things that are temporal, we live for that which is eternal. We no longer want to wear the garments of darkness but we want to wear the garments of light.
There are Christians, you know, plenty of them, who indulge themselves in these things. Oh maybe they stay on the fringes of the wild parties and the drunkenness, maybe they're just on the edges of the immorality and the shamelessness and even the ego mania and the envy but they have the garments of the night. And so Paul says you better put them off. The dawn is almost here and the dawn means the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and you don't want to be found wearing those garments when He arrives.
And so, his final point is put on, put on, put on. Look at verse 12 for a moment, the end of the verse, "Let us put on the armor of light." This is integrity, folks. That is to say that if I am a Christian I should have the integrity to wear the garment of a Christian, is that not so? I mean, there's no integrity in someone who says, "I am a Christian. I have been clothed in the righteousness of Christ, but over that righteousness I choose to wear the garments of the darkness." I am absolutely amazed and also appalled at the lifestyle of many who claim to be Christians, at what they will indulge themselves in, absolutely no integrity, no consistency.
Instead of that, says the apostle in verse 12, put on the armor of light. And the image, of course, as I told you last time, is a soldier. And the soldier has had his party garments on and he's been in the wild orgy through the night. And he's fallen asleep as it moves toward day. And the call comes to him, "Look, the dawn is coming, get up, get rid of the party clothes of the night and get on the armor that you're supposed to be wearing during the day as a soldier." That's the imagery and it's a call to the Christian soldier to say wake up and throw off the garments of the world and put on the armor of light, the dawn is coming and you want to be found in proper attire, doing your proper duty when your commander arrives.
Light, by the way, in verse 13...verse 12 rather, represents holiness. Light is the symbol of purity. Light is the symbol of sinlessness. Light is the symbol of holiness. And a beautiful symbol it is. In 2 Peter 3 it says that we are to be looking for the Lord's coming. Verse 12, "Looking for and hastening unto the coming of the day of God." Verse 13: "Looking for a new heaven and a new earth in which dwelleth righteousness." And if you look for those things, verse 14 says, you will be diligent to be found of Him in peace without spot and blameless.
Listen, you show me a Christian who is wearing the garments of darkness and I'll show you a Christian who isn't living in the conscious hope of the coming of Jesus Christ. The two are incompatible. You can't do that and wear the garments of darkness. You can't be saying, "O I'm longing for Jesus to come, I want Him to come any moment." You can't say with John, "Even so, Come Lord Jesus," when you are clothing yourself in the garments of darkness. You can't do that. So if you choose the garments of darkness, you choose not to be looking and hastening unto the coming of the day of God, lest you be found ill clad when He comes and be ashamed.
The idea is armor here. The idea suggests that we're involved in a battle, doesn't it? That this is not a life of the soft clothing and the soft garment. And I really believe that there are many Christians who don't yet understand the spiritual warfare in which we are to be engaged. The imagery is of a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, putting on armor so that he can fight in a battle. That armor is delineated with tremendous detail and clarity by Paul in Ephesians chapter 6 where he goes through all the armor of the Christian. He talks about the breastplate of righteousness, the helmet of salvation. He talks about the belt of truthfulness, the shoes of the gospel of peace, the sword of the Spirit. He talks about all of the armor that a believer is to wear because this is a battle that we're engaged in. Put on the armor. And putting on the armor is really in a sense putting on the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now another way that he says this is at the beginning of verse 13. He says, "Let us walk honestly." Literally the word means “becomingly,” and there's the idea of integrity. Let us walk, if you will, with integrity. Let us walk consistent with who we are. Let us walk in a way that reflects our identity in Christ. We ought to live like the soldiers we've been called to be. Our conduct, that's what the word “walk” means, our daily behavior, should be that which is consistent with those who are creatures of the day. We've already learned in our study from Ephesians that we are not of the night, we are of the day and so we are to walk as creatures of the day. We are to walk as kingdom citizens. This is integrity.
Now examine your own life in the light of these things. Do you look at your own life and see a sense of urgency? It's time for you to wake up. I don't know where your priorities are and I don't know what you're doing with your time and your money and your energy and your gifts, but if you're trying to amass a fortune for this earth you're making a very serious mistake. I mean, there ought to be a sense of urgency. You say, "Well the Lord isn't here yet." Yes, but He's two thousand years nearer than He was when this was written. And even they lived in the light of the imminent return of Jesus Christ. We're nearer tonight than we were last week. We're nearer now than any generation in the history of the world has ever been, that's patently obvious. And it's time for us to start putting our emphasis in living into the reality of the coming of Jesus Christ. So many of us waste so much; we need to live with the sense of urgency.
Secondly, because Jesus is coming and we want to be found when He comes in Him without spot, blameless. When He comes we want to hear Him say, "Well done, good and faithful servant." When He comes we want Him to find us with the armor of light, not the garments of darkness. It's time for us to throw that off. It's time for us to get rid of that. And it's time for us as well to put on the Lord Jesus Christ, put on the armor of light, walk in a way that has integrity with who we are. I mean, that's just basic. That's just basic.
And by the way, this theme was so important to Paul that I would be remiss if I didn't mention to you 1 Thessalonians chapter 5 for a moment. And I want to read you the first eight verses and see if this doesn't sound like an echo of what we've just read in Romans chapter 13. Verse 1 of 1 Thessalonians 5, "But of the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I write unto you, for you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night." Now how does a thief in the night come? He doesn't come with a horn and an announcement. He doesn't send you an invitation saying, "By the way, I'd like you to be home on a certain evening; I'll be there to rob you." No, he comes unexpectedly, he comes suddenly, he comes when you don't expect it. So you know that's the way the day of the Lord is going to come. And because of that you've got to be ready for it at all times. And it's going to be when people say "peace and safety." They're going to think everything is fine and it's all going the way it ought to be, then sudden destruction comes on them as birth pains on a woman with child and they shall not escape. It's going to come.
"But you, brethren, are not in darkness," you're not in darkness, you've come to Christ, you're in the light, "that that day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep as do others, but let us watch and get our priorities right for they that sleep, sleep in the night and they that are drunk are drunk in the night but let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love and for an helmet the hope of salvation." Doesn't that sound like the same concept? Wake up, put off the things of darkness. Put on the armor, the breastplate of faith and love and the helmet of the hope of salvation. "For God has not appointed us to wrath," verse 9 says, "but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ."
That's what Paul means to say in Romans 13. The night is far spent, the day is coming. You better be ready for the day. And every day that we live brings us nearer to the return of Jesus Christ A day when we'll stand before Christ, 2 Corinthians 5 says, each of us will stand before Him in that day of judgment, we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ that everyone may receive the things done in his body according to that he hath done, whether it be good or useless. We're all going to have to give an account of some kind. He's going to reveal, it says in 1 Corinthians 4 and verse 5, the secret things of the heart before we'll have praise from God. And so we need to live in the light of His coming. That's the bottom line.
Starting in chapter 12 of Romans, Paul's been unfolding all the principles of Christian living and here comes the major thrust, the mountain peak, put on Christ so that when Christ comes He'll recognize you, looking the way you should look as one who belongs to Him.
In 1 John 3 there are two verses that we must consider. Listen to them. Verse 2 and 3, of 1 John 3, "Beloved, now are we the children of God (Yes, now we are, we belong to God.) but it does not yet appear what we shall be." In other words, what we see now is not what we're going to be, right? "But we know that when He shall appear we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is." When Jesus comes we'll instantly be like Him.
Then he says this in verse 3, "Every man that hath this hope set on Christ purifieth himself even as He is pure." In other words, what John says is, if you live in the light of the Second Coming it's going to do what? It's going to purify your life. It's going to purify your life. Jesus is coming. Jesus is coming. All that I do is related to that coming.
Some years ago I quoted to you a poem that I found in my grandfather's Bible. It's a favorite of mine. I think of it so often when I think of the coming of Christ.
It goes like this: "When I stand at the judgment seat of Christ and He shows me His plan for me, the plan of my life as it might have been and I see how I blocked Him here and checked Him there and would not yield my will. Will there be grief in my Savior's eyes, grief though He loves me still? He would have me rich but I stand there poor, stripped of all but His grace while memory runs like a haunted thing down a path I can't retrace. Then my desolate heart will well nigh break with tears I cannot shed. I will cover my face with my empty hands. I will bow my uncrowned head. O Lord, of the years that are left to me I give them to Thy hand, take me and break me and mold me to the pattern that Thou hast planned."
I don't know how much time we have before Christ comes but it's time to wake up, throw off and put on the Lord Jesus Christ so that when He comes we will be as much like Him as we can be until we become exactly like Him by His glorious power. Let's bow in prayer.
We thank You for this time in Your Word, Father. With grateful hearts we have looked at this passage these three weeks and been reminded deep in our spirits of how we are to live in the light of the coming of the blessed Savior. May it be, Lord, that we are found with urgency, purity and integrity when the Savior comes. May we live for that day. May we long for that day and may we walk consistently who say we abide in Christ, may we walk the way He walked that we might be fully Your children as You have made us in position, so in practice, living a true righteousness that the world may see Christ in us. We pray for His glory. Amen.
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