While studying for another article I came across this paragraph in Romans. I think because I have been reading David Platt’s Radical the passage grabbed my attention. Paul is essentially saying get ready, man-up, its time to get serious about our faith.
Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. (Romans 13:11-14)
The passage breaks down into a simple three part outline:
I. The Day of Salvation is Near
II. Cast Off Evil
III. Put On Christ
The Day of Salvation is Near
Paul’s use of the world “salvation” (SOTARIA) is a little odd here. The sentence seems to imply that the apostles and his readers are not yet saved; they are still waiting on salvation. Jesus said in Luke 19:9 that salvation had come to the house of Zacchaeus. In Romans 11:11 Paul says salvation has come to the Gentiles. In Titus 2:11 salvation has come to all people. No, Paul’s use of the word here means something different from the salvation one finds in Christ and in this life.
Paul looks forward to the ultimate salvation, the ultimate delivery from wickedness which comes at the end of time. Paul’s use of the word “day” and salvation” seems to be near synonymous with “the day of the Lord” which is a day of judgement (1 Corinthians 5:5; 1 Thessalonians 5:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:2; 2 Peter 3:10). The faithful are ultimately delivered at the judgement when they enter in to the joys of their Lord (Matthew 25:23). Paul uses the future idea of salvation in a similar way in 2 Timothy 2:10 when he looks forward to salvation coupled with “eternal glory.”
So Paul’s encouragement is to be prepared for coming judgement. Every day of our lives brings us closer to that day whether it be in our own physical death (Luke 16:19-31) or in the return of the Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). Therefore, let us prepare now for that moment.
Cast off Evil
At least some in Rome needed to be reminded to separate themselves from evil. He uses the oft repeated contrast of light and dark, day and night, to make his point. Christians should be walking in the light of daytime (c.f. 1 John 1:5-10). The deeds of darkness (night) include orgies, drunkenness, sexual immorality, sensuality, quarreling and jealousy (c.f. Galatians 5:19-21). Paul’s list is not exhaustive but comprehends much of the scope of wickedness in the first century and in our day. It’s time to put away such deeds and rise to walk worthy of our calling in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 4:1; Colossians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; Revelation 3:4).
The urgency to purify is found in the first verse of this passage: “the day is at hand.” The apostle is horrified that any of his readers might be found soiled by worldliness when standing before the righteous judge. He wants them to cleanup their act and be ready for the Lord.
I learned a long time ago to be very careful when eating out on Sunday or when enjoying a fellowship. Sauces are deadly! With me, I will almost always drip something on my tie or dress shirt. Then I have to stand before the assembly wearing barbeque sauce. It’s ugly, sloppy and even distracting. How much more should we strive to present ourselves before the Lord in judgement?
Put on Christ
It’s just not enough to clean out the bad; we must bring in the good. In this case we put on Christ. Jesus tells a sad story of what happens when one cleans out the evil but fails to put righteousness in its place (Luke 11:24-26).
The Christian life is so much more than not sinning. Our life is to be like Christ in all ways. The idea of putting on Christ suggests that we cover our own lives with his life, our ways with his ways, our bodies with his body. We walk as he walks (Romans 6:3-14).
The final verse connects putting on Christ with rejecting the flesh:
“But put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”
That verse kind of explodes on you. The first part is not unexpected but the second part really shook me up. Did he really say to make “no provision” for the flesh? Like our discussion of salvation above, the word flesh has different meanings. Here Paul uses it to speak to the sinful desires of men. It doesn’t mean to ignore the needs of the physical body but instead to avoid feeding our temptations. We must never surrender to Satan’s call. Don’t give him any room. Don’t let him in even for a second. It causes me to think of Ephesians 4:27, “give no opportunity to the devil.”
In the time it has taken you to read this little essay, you have moved closer to your final destination. Are you prepared?