We've been going along in this great epistle that Paul wrote to the Romans and touching the great mountain peaks. This morning we find ourselves again in chapter 13, and we're looking at verses 11 through 14, the same text we began last Lord's Day. Let me read it to you.
Romans chapter 13, verses 11 through 14, "And this do, knowing the time that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep, for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone and the day is at hand. Let us therefore lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave properly as in the day not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts."
That last statement sums up the very most basic principle of Christian growth. Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, that's the positive side. Make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts, that's the negative side. It is a command. It is a command for immediate action. It is a present tense command with a view toward the future. You will notice in verse 11 it says, "Already the hour for you to awaken from sleep has come and now salvation is nearer than when we believed. The night is almost gone, the day is at hand." In the light of the coming of Christ he's saying. In the light of the nearness of the Savior's return, put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for your flesh. This then is the bottom-line principle for personal sanctification and holiness.
If I might digress from this text for a moment and give a rather prolonged illustration for two reasons, one because I think it will catapult us into the positive aspects of this text, and two it'll warn us about a very serious issue. I want to share with you a perspective that I've come to...to understand that I think is very, very important. There is afoot today, basically fostered by the psychological movement within the church, an effort to cause people to believe that the path to sanctification is backwards and not forward; that the process to spirituality and Christian growth and Christian development isn't putting on the Lord Jesus Christ now putting off sin and living in the light of the future return of Christ, but the real key to sanctification is going backwards.
I was involved in a pastor's conference. I've been involved in I think three or four of them in the last three or four weeks. In one of them, some pastors posed the issue to me that sanctification couldn't begin unless people could get under the care of some counselor who could dig up the traumatic, hidden things of the past, and only when a person was freed from these matters in the past could they get on with the present and the future. My response to that was, "What does verse does it say that in?" Show me where. I'll be more than happy to ascribe to that if you can show me in the Scripture and, of course, there is nothing in the Scripture other than the statement by Paul that says, "Forgetting those things that are behind, I press forward." There is nothing on the pages of Scripture anywhere that tells anyone that their spiritual future is dependent upon their past. It is dependent upon their present action with a view to the future, not their present action with a view to the past. Psychology may deal with the old man, but it can't deal with the new man. There is nothing to be benefited by going backwards and trying to uncover something in the past as somehow the key to unlocking the future. The key to unlocking the future for you is to act in the present to put on the Lord Jesus Christ and to make no provision for the flesh.
I hear people say, but I come from a dysfunctional family. Join the human race. I come from a dysfunctional family. I conduct a dysfunctional family. I am a dysfunctional human being and so are you. I cannot function the way God made me to function. I cannot do what I'm supposed to do. I do what I don't want to do and I don't do what I want to do. I am dysfunctional. I was raised with dysfunctional people. I still live with dysfunctional people, and they live with a dysfunctional person. That's the way it is if you're fallen. You say, but you don't understand I have hidden repressed trauma.
Let me talk about that for a moment. This is a major wave in evangelical Christianity to tell people that the present and the future is dependent upon uncovering repressed trauma from the past. This has come to me like a flood. Yesterday morning I was in Denver, Colorado at a pastor's conference and I was having breakfast with a graduate of the Master's Seminary. He said to me, "John, I...I have to ask you a question. I've been acquainted with a girl and she...she needs some help and I'm wondering how I can help her. She's just been going through counseling and she's just found out that her father molested her when she was a child. She doesn't remember it, but it all came out in counseling. This was yesterday.”
Before I left for Denver, Pastor Arnold Ruby came into my office and said we just got a phone call from someone in our church who is very concerned and wants to come in and talk to a pastor immediately. His wife's been in counseling and she's just found out she was molested by her father when she was a child, doesn't remember it, but needs to come in and learn how to deal with it biblically. That was a few days after I was last Sunday dedicating a church in Long Beach in the afternoon after I preached here. After that a man came up to me whom I've known for many years, I've known his family, I've known them to be godly people. He's a man of about 70 years of age. His wife a godly woman, a highly esteemed and respected for years in the Christian community, wonderful, precious people, and he told me with a broken and shattered heart, his wife now in glory for 12 years, he said to me my daughter has just come an accused me of committing incest with her when she was young and they have destroyed our family. I said whatever brought that up? Why did they do that? And he said she went to counseling and it all supposedly came out in counseling. It's destroyed our family, it is nothing but lies. So that's about three times in one week.
To add to that I picked up a newspaper which fascinates me no end. It was an article out of the Dallas newspaper in their D Magazine, which is sent out to a million people, and they do some cutting-edge journalism. And I only want you to focus on this to see the epidemic level of this kind of thinking. It's a story of a girl who in her early 20s in the area of Dallas tried to bring an indictment against her parents. She...she wanted to indict her parents. She said that her parents had abused her and she wanted something brought against them by the courts. Her father is a Baptist pastor, has been faithfully serving the Lord with his wife and she and her brother, there are two children. They were raised in a very normal, happy, positive, joyful family and he served the Lord in pastoring Baptist churches for many, many years. Now she had come into court and she was accusing him of some quite shocking things. Accusing the mother of abuse, accusing the brother of incest and molestation, accusing the father of molestation from the age of 10 on. Said her father got her pregnant at the age of 14, she bore a baby which the father offered on an altar to Satan. They had a Satanic altar in the home and they worshipped Satan. And she went on beyond that to talk about cannibalism and other kinds of things that were going on supposedly in the home and the life of this Baptist pastor and this family which had so traumatized her life. The parents were absolutely devastated, absolutely shattered. Of course, he was thrust out of the ministry. Chaos reigned supreme in their lives from every possible direction.
According to D magazine, they brought the case into court into a hearing and in the process of trying to develop this thing and find out whether some charges should be brought against the family, they put the girl through all kinds of tests, all kinds of witnesses were brought. The upshot of it was, the court decided at the end that not one single word she said had any relationship to reality. Nothing she said was true. Medical tests on her indicated that she had never had a relationship with a man. Furthermore, people knew the family, lived in the home, intersected in that home because he was a small church pastor and there was no such thing as a Satanic altar in the...in the memory of anybody who had ever known them in all the years of their ministry. All the accusations turned out to be untrue.
Well, obviously when this hit the...the public down in Texas, it became a curiosity as to where in the world this girl got all this information if it didn't really happen. Where did it all come from? Now those are some pretty frightening things, and it became apparent in the process that she seemed to believe they were really true. She wouldn't speak to her parents; they are totally alienated to this very day. She is still dependent on a particular counselor. She will not look at her parents, cannot see her parents, that relationship has permanently been destroyed.
The people at D Magazine decided to look a little more deeply into this and this is what they uncovered according to the...the newspaper and I read the article. I may a few of the details wrong from memory, but it's going to be pretty close. This girl had a little bit of a weight problem which is not uncommon in our day and our society and was feeling a little bit like she wouldn't be able to find the right young man for marriage if she didn't deal with it. And so someone suggested apparently that she was feeling badly about this problem she go to the Christian counseling clinic in Dallas and get some help. She went there and she was assigned to a particular counselor. And this particular counselor began to counsel her and within about a few months, maybe six months, all of this came out in this process of counseling. She didn't remember any of it, but he brought it all out and the theory is and this is Freudian theory, that somehow if you have severe trauma in your past you push it below the level of memory and it becomes repressed. You don't remember it consciously. You don't think about it consciously, but somehow it's down there in your...your id as Freud liked to call it and it's messing up your whole life even though you don't consciously remember it. And if you're going to get on with life, it has to be regurgitated and you have to deal with it and so forth. And of course, this is a...this is a wonderful ploy who...for people who don't want any responsibility for being the way they are.
I remember flying on an airplane, a stewardess sitting next to me deadheading somewhere and she saw me reading the Bible. She said, "Are you a...a pastor?" And I said, "Yes." She said, "Do you counsel?" I said, "Sometimes." She said, "I'm in counseling now." She's not a Christian. She said, "I just got the best news." I said, "What? She said, "I just found out my father molested me and abused me." I said, "That's good news?" She said, "Yes, because now I know why I am the way I am." If you want to dispossess yourself of any responsibility for being the way you are, which of course is contrary to biblical truth, then you can find somebody in your past that you can blame for the things that are in your life that you don't like.
And so this is a convenient kind of things. Well, anyway, the girl went in, she got the counseling, within six months she brought this entire barrage of accusations involving Satan worship, cannibalism, molestation, pregnancy, just a horrendous list. And I haven't even given you all of the list. How did this happen? It... It turned out in court to be absolutely unsubstantiated and not true. But where did it come from? That was the curiosity. Well, they started in the investigation, went back, looked at the records of this particular counselor and found that this was the pattern in the majority of all the people he counseled. That they had Satanic involvement, occult involvement, molestation, and these kinds of things. In other words, if you go to that counselor, he's going to find that in your background. Eventually the clinic became embarrassed by this and he was terminated. They went back further into his record with the Texas State Health Commission. He worked for the mental health department of Texas. They found the very same pattern in the people he had counseled there. And what you saw in this situation was a man creating false memories.
And this is what is happening. You get vulnerable people, and I don't say this in anyway to...to slight women, but I've never heard of a man having this situation happen. It is vulnerable women, Paul says, "In the latter times there will be women with weak will who will be led astray." And one of the characteristics of last time days is going to be the...the loss of normal family love. And so we...we kind of expect to see this, but anyway, they...they...they take this kind of a person who is susceptible to suggestion from an authority figure and they begin through a process to...to create memories which displace responsibility for iniquity and sin and struggles in life, put it off on somebody else, develops a hate pattern for other people and alienates and destroys and devastates and wipes out whole families.
It's a frightening, frightening thing. Absolutely frightening and it is at an epidemic level today. It's a frightening thing because of the power of suggestion. D Magazine went a little further in the investigation and they decided to find out whether it is true that people can repress that kind of trauma. And so they contacted people with the psychological tests, those who can assess what people remember and what they don't, and all the statistics they got indicated that every one of those kinds of experiences is precisely the kind of experience you could never forget no matter how you tried. You couldn't repress it. You could never repress those things. If your father molested you and if incest went on from the age of 10 to 21, you're telling me you could forget that and think you were happy? And if you were involved in cannibalism, with...with your own child, you could forget that?
Listen, you and I well know that we have all kinds of things in our minds that we would give anything if we could forget. But we can't. And God has given us a memory for the purpose of reminding us how painful that was so we don't do it anymore. What kind of restraint would we have if we could only remember good things? So it doesn't even...doesn't even flush out in terms of psychological testing. This is a very, very serious matter.
I saw a book in the Christian bookstore where I was recently that said how...how to heal yourself from your birthmarks, your psychological birthmarks. You're born into the world and you're all warped and wiped out because of, you know, what happened to you in...in your birth and in your early childhood and in your family and this tears families to shreds. It is a frightening, frightening thing. It is not biblical, but it is rampant, absolutely rampant in Christian counseling today. What grieves about this is the fact that I keep running into this all the time, all the time.
I was asked that question this week in Denver, don't you think that psychology is important in going back and digging up the past and getting those things healed, those hidden hurts and traumas so that somebody can move on for...to be sanctified. And I said, "Are you saying basically that the Holy Spirit can sanctify you if you can find a good psychologist to get you jump-started? Are you saying that somehow the Holy Spirit can't deal with the present and the future until somebody else deals with the past?" This is foreign to Scripture. It is destructive because the only way you'll ever be honestly dealing with your own sin is not to go in the past and have somebody create false memories, not to go in the past and find somebody to blame for your problem, but take responsibility for where you are and begin to act on the principles of what this text says. It's amazing how we can create memories. Absolutely amazing.
I was sharing some things like this with Bob Vernon the other night. And Bob said, "You know, I...I see how that happens." He said, "The other day we were at home and...and I said to Esther, where's my coat," this certain coat. And she said, "Oh I took that coat to the cleaners. Don't you remember we went to the cleaners together and I...I got out and took it in." "Oh yeah, we did didn't we. Yeah, I remember, sure." Yeah, so she said, "I'll go down to the cleaners and get it for you." So she went and came back and she said, "You'll never believe it Bob, they lost it. They lost the coat. I went in, she said, "I don't have that coat." And I said to the woman, "I brought it here, my husband and I came, I came in, I put it on the counter, I remember distinctly giving it to you, we filled out the slip and...and you said it would be ready and...and I'm here to get it."" "We don't have your coat. We don't have any re...they lost it. Can you believe that?" He said, "I can't believe it, I remember distinctly we took it down, we went in, we gave it to the lady." And a little while a later one of their relatives called and said, "Hey, Bob, you left your coat at my house." Now how many times have I done that with my wife. If you talk about it long enough you'll create a scene in which you think it really happened. I know I left them over there. Yeah, that's right, I saw you leave them over there and you find them somewhere else. I mean, and in that kind of a situation with people re-enforcing you can literally create something into a reality that isn't real at all. This is devastating, because it doesn't deal with a person's life where they are. It tears up families. It's another false path to sanctification that ends up in pain and confusion and hurt and accomplishes absolutely nothing. If you want to get your Christian life together, don't go back, leave that alone. You can't fix it, right? And don't let somebody create phony memories of what you can't remember. You start where you are.
And here's three simple commands that'll get you on the road to sanctification, wake up, put off, and put on. Wake up, put off, and put on, that's the essence of this simple text that we really began to look at last time. We covered much of it last time in covering the principle of putting on the Lord Jesus Christ. But let's...let's just kind of pick it up again this morning for...for a brief time.
First of all, he says wake up. Look again at verse 11 and 12. "This do," he's speaking about love, we are to begin to love in the way God has designed us to love and desires us to love. "because we know the time.” In other words, we have a sense of the urgency of the hour. "It is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep. For now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone and the day is at hand." The day refers to the day of Christ, the day of the Lord, the day of God, the great return of our Lord, the time when he comes. The time when the kingdom dawns, if you will, in...in very broad sweeping general terms. He's saying you know what season it is. You know it is the last time for man. You know Christ is coming to take His church and to judge the world. It is time to wake up. This is not the time for spiritual sleep. It's a time to wake up. And may I add, to borrow from my own illustration to start this message, it's not the time for dreaming about the past. It's not the time for non-reality. It's the time for reality, wake up. Christ is coming, the lost are perishing. You're going to stand before Him and answer for your service. The final phase of salvation he says, your salvation is nearer than when you believed, that final phase of it. Yes, you have been saved. Yes, you are being saved. Yes, there's a sense in which you yet will be saved and that aspect of salvation which delivers you from this world and from the presence of sin into the glorious presence of God is nearer than it's ever been. It's nearer today than it was a week ago.
And so Paul says the time is now to wake up. Start loving, start obeying God, because it's time to do that. This is the end of man's day. The next event on the redemptive clock is the coming of Jesus Christ. You need to be in readiness. You need to be watching. You remember when Jesus ascended into heaven, the angels said, "This same Jesus who is taken from you shall so come in like manner as you've seen him go." In other words, you need to live in a state of alertness and readiness. The period of man's day is ending, the time of God's day is coming. It is next on God's redemptive clock. It is next in the plan, and you need to live in the light of its reality.
Do you remember what Peter said in 2 Peter 3? He said, "Because you know the elements are going to melt with a fervent heat, and this whole universe is going to be burned up, because you know that the Day of the Lord is coming, what kind of person should you be in all holy living and godliness." It's time to wake up and get your act together because you're living nearer and nearer to the return of Jesus Christ. The darkness will end. Yet a little while, says Hebrews 10:37. "And He that shall come will come and will not tarry." The nighttime of world history will give way to the daytime of Christ's kingdom. So the picture is very vivid. He sees the world in a night of sin, but soon the dawn is coming and it's time for believers to wake up.
Then secondly, and we'll move on to consider the second and third command, throw off, throw off. And the imagery is very simple. You're getting out of bed and you're going to throw off your night clothes and put on your day clothes, verse 12. "The night is almost gone, the day is at hand, let us therefore lay aside (or put off) the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light." Put off the works of darkness. Put off the clothes of darkness. Literally in the Greek, throw them off. Throw off your night clothes, put on the armor of light. And here he moves his metaphor to picture a soldier. And this soldier has to get his armor on for the battle during the day. Frankly, during the night, he's been wearing the filthy garments of sin. He's had his orgy clothes on. He's been moving through the night in the wild debauchery of wickedness. But when the day arrives, he's got to throw off those dirty garments and he's got to put on his armor and go out and fight the battle. He's saying, look there's no place for you to be wearing the filthy garments of the debauchery of the night. If you want to move ahead spiritually, if you want to please God and honor God and know joy and blessing and peace and usefulness, if you want to know an internal reward from the hand of Christ, it's time for you to get rid of the deeds of the darkness. You're not of the darkness, you're of the light. You're children of the day. You're new creations. You're clothed in Christ's righteousness. You are a new person. Why would you put on the old filthy clothes of your former life. That's what he's saying. This is not the time for wearing the dirty clothes of night conduct. You are not of the night, as Paul said in 1 Thessalonians Chapter 5. It's not the time for spiritual slumber either. It's not the time for you to be in a drunken stupor. Take off your carnal clothes and put on your...your spiritual armor, the armor of light.
God doesn't want us to be living the way the world lives when the Lord comes. Now what does he mean when he says, lay aside the deeds of darkness? Sins. Simply, sins, so we can show you verse after verse that...that illustrates that, but that's exactly what it is, sins. Put away sin. The world he is showing us is pictured in a deep kind of drunken stupor, having engaged in the orgy of wild debauchery, utter senseless activity. And the drink that they have been drinking has somehow been poisoned by the enemy and murderer of their souls, who has put them in a stupor. And he says to you Christians, look they may live like that, don't you wear their clothes. Don't you act the way they act. You're covered with the garment of Christ's righteousness positionally and you better get on the garment of Christ righteousness practically.
In verse 13, he then describes these deeds of darkness. In three pairs: carousing and drunkenness, sexual promiscuity and sensuality; and finally the third, strife and jealousy. And here he's just identifying some representative characteristics of the world. Something you'd find in the night. Something you'd find in the debauchery of the activity of the night.
The first one, carousing, kmos, is wild rioting. Originally it had reference to a group of friends who were accompanying somebody who won a victory and they would come from the games and they would sing his praises and celebrate his triumph. So it was kind of a celebration of a victor, say in the Olympic games or the Isthmian games or something like that. It eventually came to refer to a noisy group of street people, half drunk, parading in the night through the town with torches and music and dancing in honor of Bacchus, the god of wine, or some other deity. It really became a...the word for a late night drinking party with music and sex. Typical sins of the darkness. The typical behavior of the world. He says, put that stuff off. You're a new creation, you are garmented before God and the righteousness of Christ. When God looks at you He sees the righteousness of Christ that has been granted to you, but some of you are putting on the old night clothes of the debauched world of your former life. Put them off. Put that stuff out of your life.
And then he adds drunkenness to that first one. And the word actually isn't just simple drunkenness. It means a drinking bout. It isn't the word of a person who just kind of goes in a corner and gets stoned. It has more to do with the idea that you're involved in some kind of an enclave of people who are...who are just getting drunk together. It's a drinking party. It's a drinking bout. Put that stuff out of your life. That's the...that's the clothing of the night.
And then in verse 13, he adds the next little couplet, sexual promiscuity. Koit literally means a bed, a bed, here, the forbidden bed; the bed of adultery, the bed of fornication and other typical pagan preoccupation. And then he adds sensuality. That word means shamelessness. That is one of the rich words in the Greek language, aselgeia, and it can be looked at from a number of facets. It is a very, very descriptive word and it carries the idea of a person who lives a wretched, debauched, lascivious life and doesn't care. Has no shame whatever, shameless, lustful, greed, animal appetite, sheer self-indulgence, which becomes slave to its evil desires with absolutely no sense of shame. No restraint whatsoever; very often translated in the Kings James by the word “lasciviousness.” So he says look, what does the world do? What are the garments of the night, wild parties with music and sex, drunkenness, sexual promiscuity, fornication, adultery and shameless sensual vice.
And then he adds two more, in verse 13, strife and jealousy. Strife is really the word for contention, but to broaden that definition a little bit, it is the spirit of antagonistic competitiveness. It is the spirit of antagonistic competitiveness. In other words, it's the kind of...of strife, the kind of contention, the kind of battling, the kind of competition that comes from a desire for power, comes from a desire for prestige, comes from a desire for prominence. It comes from a desire for material benefits, for personal gain. To draw it into one good word that makes it clear, it is the word “egomania,” egomania. Put that off. Put off that absolutely competitive drive that makes you want to win everything for yourself because you're so totally in love with yourself, unwilling to take second place, unwilling to be humble, unwilling to be a servant. You're going to compete to the end and get everything you can get out of everybody. And then the word jealousy is its companion, because if that's the way you feel, you're going to envy everything everybody else has.
These are the...these are the passions of the night. These are the deeds of the darkness. These are motivated by the prince of darkness. These are passions that violate and abuse love, Christian love, Godly love. These are foreign to us. They are the garments of the night. Now when you became a believer you became a new man, a new woman. And Paul is saying don't put on the old clothes. Put on Christ. Put off the old stuff.
There's a sense in which this all has kind of a military snap to it. And you can see Paul moving his metaphor a little further here. And maybe he's envisioning a...a military camp. And through the night the soldiers without their armor have been clad in their party clothes and they've abandoned themselves to wild orgies of sex and drinking and competition. And they've been fighting with each other because sex and drinking and sexual orgies usually turn into fights. And they've been in that strife and that jealousy, jealous over the possession of some women maybe. And as the hours before dawn come, they're in a deep stupor, and that's the way the world is going to be when Jesus comes, is it not? And he is saying to the believer, don't you...don't you live like that. Don't you put on that kind of garment. Don't you engage in those kinds of deeds. Wake up! Throw off that stuff. Don't you realize the dawn is near.
Wake up, put off, and the third one, put on. This is the positive. Put on, he says in verse 12, "Put on the armor of light." "Put on the armor of light." What does that mean? Light represents holiness. Put on the armor of light. If you go to the armor in Ephesians 6, it starts with the girdle of truth doesn't it? And then the breastplate of righteousness. And then their shoes are shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. And then you have the shield of faith. And then you have the helmet of salvation. And then you have sword of the Spirit. Put on the armor, put on truth, put on righteousness, put on peace, put on confidence, assurance, put on faith, put on the Word of God. That's all holiness. When you have the truth and you're living righteously, you have peace and confidence and faith and you can wield the sword of the Word. Get the armor on, that's what he's saying. Put on the armor.
What you have to tell people who are struggling in their life, everybody's dysfunctional, everybody. We all have problems, we all live with people and lived with people who have problems. We are all bombarded by the problems of those people, our own problems, the world, the flesh, the devil. We are all under assault all the time. We all battle, we all struggle. The solution is to examine where we are and here's a big key word, repent of our sin. That's what it means to put off. Repent of our sin, accept the responsibility for it, confess it, repent of it and having done that negative thing as it were of turning from sin we then put on Christ. Put off the sin, that's repentance. Put off the sin, that's confession. Because all he's saying, if you want to be a growing Christian, repent of your sin and start acting like Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit, of course.
So he says put on the armor of light. Look down in verse 13, he says put on the Lord Jesus Christ. In verse...verse 12 he says put on the armor of light. In verse 14, he says, put on the Lord Jesus Christ. We therefore conclude that they're one and the same, right? If you put on Christ, you have the armor of light. Why? Because believe me Christ has on the belt of truth, does He not? No one knows the truth or lives the truth better than He. Does He have a breastplate of righteousness? Absolutely, He is perfectly righteous. Does He know the truth of peace? Yes. Does He have confidence before God? Yes. Does He live in perfect trust? Yes. Does He know how to use the truth, the sword? Yes. Christ... Christ is the armor of light. He is the truth. He is the righteousness. He is our peace, right? He is the one in whom we believe. He is our confidence and He is the living Word. Put on the armor of light means put on Christ.
And again, I take you back to where we were last week. That means simply to see how Christ lived and live the way He lived. To see how Christ thought and think the way He thought. To see the attitudes of Christ and ask God to help you develop the same attitudes. To see the responses of Christ and ask the Spirit of God to make the same responses a reality in your life. Put on Jesus Christ. If you're going to behave properly, verse 13, as it says there, "in the day," if you're going to walk, the word “behave” is to walk...if you're going to walk in your daily conduct the way you ought to walk in daily conduct, then you're going to have to put on Christ.
Beloved, the key to the future is the present, not the past. And if you want a transformed life, there's nothing in the past that's going to help you. If you want a transformed life, you start in the moment in which you now live. First of all, wake up to the urgency. Christ is coming soon, people are perishing. You're going to have to stand before the Lord accountable. It's the next event on redemptive clock and I'll tell you sometimes I think it has to be very, very soon because of how the world is and you can see it as well as I. Time to wake up, that's the first thing. And when you've awakened yourself to the urgency of the time in which you live, then there's a second step.
The first step is urgency, the second step is purity. “Throw off” means “purity.” Purify your heart. Purify your life. Cleanse yourselves from all filthiness of the flesh, perfecting holiness in the fear of God, 2 Corinthians 7:1 puts it. So we have to live with a sense of urgency, we have to live with a sense of purity and thirdly, we have to live with a sense of integrity. That's put on. What is he saying? Put on in practice what you wear in position. In position before God you're righteous. God looks at you he sees the righteousness of Christ. The world needs to look at you and see the righteousness of Christ too. You need to be in practice what you are in position. That's integrity. That's wholeness. What is the simple principle then for sanctification? A sense of urgency. A commitment to purity. Devotion to integrity. If Jesus came tomorrow, how would it be with you? Could He say thank you for living in the light of this dawning? Thank you for recognizing the day was coming soon and putting on the armor of light. Would He say to you thank you that you put long ago the...the clothes of the darkness, the deeds of the darkness away? Thank you that you put on Christ. Well done good, faithful servant. Should be for all of us that we are motivated to that end and that is why the Lord didn't tell us when He was coming, so we would live in readiness.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:8, I remind you of a verse we studied some months ago. "Since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation." Again, that same concept, "Since we are of the day," and the dawning is very near, it's time for us to become pure, to put on Christ, same concept. I grieve in my heart about so many people struggling with their own spiritual life who are being sent in the wrong direction in totally counterproductive, distressing action which compounds severely their life and ultimately is destructive. Why is that we can't just take the simple direction of the Word of God and move ahead?
Now I know some of you are saying, you know, I want to do all of this, but I find it difficult. And I say to you what I said last time, if you want to put on Jesus Christ, you can't just all of a sudden do that in a moment of time. You have to spend so much time and so much meditative prayerful effort in looking at the Word of God and thinking and meditating on the person of Christ that by that process of exposure to Jesus Christ imperceptibly you become like Him. And we're right back to that great verse, 2 Corinthians 3:18, "As we gaze at His glory, the Holy Spirit changes us into His image." The issue with me is not to try to be like Christ in my flesh. The issue is not to say please make me like Christ in my prayer. The issue is to become so saturated with what the Bible reveals about Christ that I find myself beginning to pattern my habits after Him and that's what the Spirit of God is doing in me as I'm exposed to His glory. I think it must be the prayer of our life to be like Christ, but the means to the...to the answer to that prayer is a preoccupation with Christ himself.
A few years ago I wrote a poem which became a song, which has been sung maybe a few times here and elsewhere. But these words were very precious to me then and they still are and they express my own heart.
"Oh to be like Thee dear Jesus my plea,
Just to know Thou art formed fully in me.
On with Thy beauty Lord, off with my sin,
Fixed on thy glory Thy likeness to win.
Oh to be like Thee, Thine image display,
This is the Spirit's work day after day.
Glory to glory transformed by His grace,
'Til in Thy presence I stand face to face.
Oh to be like Thee Thou lover of men,
Gracious and gentle, compassionate friend,
Merciful Savior such kindness and care
Are only mine when Thy likeness I share.
Oh to be like Thee Jesus.
Oh to be like Thee Jesus.
For this I live, to this I'll die.
It is my hope, my prayer my cry."
Indeed Father, it is our prayer, our hope, our cry that we would put on the Lord Jesus Christ and that others would see us clothed in His righteousness even as You see us that way. May we bring into conformity with our position, our behavior, our conduct. Help us to have integrity to be before men as righteous as we are in Christ before You. And Lord, save Your church and your people from these blind alleys and confusing paths that lead them away from the path that you have established in your Word. Help us to live in the light of the future, the return of Christ, the glories of heaven, and forget the past. We pray in Christ's name. Amen.
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