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"Now is the Time!"
Romans 13:11-14

Wednesday Evening Home Bible Study
February 9, 2005

Throughout the book of Romans, Paul has set the gospel of Jesus Christ before us. And in this evening's passage, much of what he has said comes to head. It is a practical conclusion to his call in Romans 12:1-2; and is a practical summation of the call to commit to service to the body of Christ (12:3-8), to show love to fellow believers (12:9-13), to show love to those who are not believers (12:14-21), to be submitted to our governing authorities (13:1-7), and to pay the ongoing debt of love by keeping God's commandments toward others (13:8-10).

All of these things - implied in 12:1-2 - are encompassed in the phrase "And do this . . ." (13:11). It's a call to stop being casual and lazy about our faith. The supreme event of human history - the return of Jesus - is just around the corner. It's time to work while we have a chance. Therefore, Paul tells us . . .

I. NOW IS THE TIME . . . (v. 11a).
A. We are to do all that has been said, "knowing the time". The "time" that Paul speaks of is the time in which we are now living - the time that awaits the return of Jesus. No other event prophetically stands between current history and His return. We are now living in the "last days" - whether His return is soon or many years hence. Jesus was first revealed in what are called the "last days" (Heb. 1:2); also called "the end of the ages" (Heb. 9:26).

B. And so, we are to live a certain way, because of these times. ". . . The end of all things is at hand" (1 Pet. 4:7); and "it is the last hour" (1 John 2:18), because "the coming of the Lord is at hand [or "has drawn near"] (James 5:8). It's no longer a time for 'business as usual'. Now is the time . . .

II. TIME TO . . .

A. WAKE UP (v. 11b).
1. Our 'salvation' is near. This is not speaking of our initial salvation, when we first trusted Christ; because it's called a 'salvation' that is "nearer than when we first believed". There are three aspects to salvation: (1) a past aspect, in which we are saved from the guilt of our sins and our lost condition; (2) a present aspect, in which we are continually being saved by being conformed to the image of Jesus in our daily lives; and (3) a future aspect, in which we will be fully conformed to the image of Christ in glory at His return. The "salvation" Paul has in mind here is the future aspect. It is nearer today than it was the day before; and this prospect is to move us to live a holy life (1 John 3:1-3).

2. Therefore, we're urged to "awake out of sleep." The Greek word used for "sleep" is hupnos - from which we get the word "hypnotic". It describes a drowsy state of mind. Metaphorically, it describes a Christian who is in a state of spiritual slumber. It's time to wake up from our drowsiness!

B. GET DRESSED (v. 12).

1. Some people wake up from their sleep, but spend much of the day in their pajamas - long past the time when pajamas are appropriate apparel. Paul uses a mix of metaphors to tell us this:
a. The "night is far spent". The age in which it was appropriate to be lazy is long gone.

b. The "day is at hand". These are the last days; and it's no longer appropriate to run around in sleep-ware (1 Thess. 5:1-11).

2. We are now to put on the "work clothes" of the day:

a. Casting off the the works of darkness that characterized our lives before Christ.

b. Putting on the armor of light that it is appropriate to wear when going into the battles of the Lord (Col. 1:12).

C. WALK PROPERLY (v. 13).

1. Paul uses the Greek word for "walk" (perepate§) to describe our behavior in daily life. We are called upon to "walk properly" (that is "decently" or "becomingly"), as in the day (Eph. 5:8-14).

2. He describes how "not" to walk by using three categories of improper behavior (see Eph. 5:1-10):

a. "Partying": that is "in revelry and drunkenness". We are not to engage in the kind of wild behavior as an artificial "good time" that characterizes the people of this world.

b. "Sensuality": that is, "in lewdness and lust". The words Paul uses suggest sexual immorality and a complete gratification of the animal desires.

c. "Hostilities": that is "in strife and envy". We're not to be back-biters, or gossip-mongers. We're not to hold on to resentments and spirits of unforgiveness. And we're not to hold others in contempt.

D. LEAVE THE OLD WAYS BEHIND (v. 14).

1. Having woken up, put on our clothes, and strapped on our walking shoes, we're now to go out of the door of night, enter into the light of day, and leave the old ways behind us. We're to consider that we have put on Jesus Christ (see Gal. 3:26-27). We're to see ourselves as possessing a new identity in Him. We have a new direction; a new purpose; a new "uniform" - and we are now to become men and women of our uniform!

2. This necessitates a choice to cease from making any further provision for the flesh. We are not to allow ourselves any opportunity to gratify our sinful passions, nor 'keep' any of the old ways - "just to prove that we're strong enough now to resist them". We are to leave all such things behind and make no provision for them (Rom. 6:12-14).

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