“And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” (Romans 13:11)
Some of you may have heard the story before, but I am always reminded of it when I read this verse in Romans 13. A little girl in 19th Century England was awakened one morning by the ringing bells of the village clock-tower. She always enjoyed counting out the chimes when the clock sounded, one ring for each hour of the day. So, she laid there quietly, counting out each bell — one, two, three. But this particular morning, something had gone wrong and the bells of the broken clock continued to chime beyond what they were supposed to. Seven o’clock, eight o’clock, nine o’clock. Soon she began to wonder just how late she had slept! Eleven rings, twelve rings, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen. Alarmed, she leapt from her bed and ran into her parents bedroom shouting, “Mother, father wake up! It’s later now than it’s ever been!”
Our Salvation, that is, our total Salvation — the ultimate redemption of our frail and feeble bodies to be accomplished when we enter into the glorious presence of Jesus Christ — is closer now than when we first believed. In fact, it is closer than it was yesterday. Every day draws us nearer to that day when none of the pains and sufferings, none of the trials and tribulations of this life will matter anymore. The brevity of this life will come to a close sooner than any of us like to admit and then we shall enter into the comforts of our eternal home. Let us all wake up, dear Christians, for it is later now than it has ever been.
How We Are To Live
As we looked at in the last series, “The Christian’s Relationships”, our time spent on Earth is to be carried out by submitting to the will of our Lord and by living according to His Word and commandments. We are not to live a good and peaceable life in order to gain Heaven, but because we are bound for Heaven and are children of the Most High God. Romans 12:1-13:7 gives us instructions for how we are to interact with God, ourselves, the Church, our non-Christian neighbors, and our governing authorities. Chapter 13 concludes by reminding us that this life is but a shadow, a blink of the eye, when compared with the unfathomable expanse of time which is eternity.
Living the Christian life is not about a set of rules and laws, a list of things not to do or a code of ethics to be adhered to. It is about believing what God has done on our behalf and taking seriously who we are in Him. We are to live out the rest of our earthly lives awake and alive in Jesus Christ, not living as the world does, sleepwalking through our lives in a sin-induced stupor. What opportunities we waste, what chances we squander because God’s call to live a holy and devout life is seldom taken seriously. We are asleep and it is high time we wake up!
A Debt Of Love
“Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.” (Romans 13:8)
Romans 13:7 exhorts the believer to pay that which he owes; to render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s. Yet there remains a debt which we can never fully pay and that is the ongoing debt of love toward others. Lest we get caught up in all of the “do’s and don’ts” which we have read throughout this passage, the Apostle Paul reminds us that the “Law of Jesus Christ” is very simple:
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:37b-40)
If there be any other commandment, it is summed up in loving our neighbor as ourselves, verse 9 of Romans 13 tells us. In other words, this is the summation of all that we have just read going back to Romans 12:1. We do not need to attempt to memorize each and every directive; if we are loving others and doing unto them what we would have them do to us then we are automatically keeping not only the Law of Christ but we are obeying the basic principles of the Law of Moses. We are obeying God by loving Him and loving others. God’s expectations of us really are that simple.
How Are You Living?
“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 armour of light.” (Romans 13:12)
If I may be so blunt, let me ask you, how are you living? What are your goals and ambitions, what are you living for? Are you living in obedience to the will of God, seeking His glory or are you living for your own gain and pleasure? Paul is not talking to non-Christians in this passage and neither am I. For we know that the lost man does not and indeed cannot live a life pleasing to God, but the children of God can and should. It is Christians being implored to cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Oh, how few of them ever do!
Our time spent on this earth is but a moment and only the things done for the glory of the Lord will matter once we’ve gone. We so often lose sight of this and find ourselves living as those of this world do, with eyes focused firmly on temporal things, not eternal. We begin to face life in our own strength, fighting our battles in the flesh rather than the Spirit; we begin again to commit the same immorality which we did before we knew Christ. We grow restless and weary of waiting for the Lord to strengthen us and provide for us and we start to attempt to satisfy our own wants and needs apart from Him.
“But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” (Romans 13:14)
Remove the works of darkness, put on the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a decision that we must make, a decision that we must make daily. With what garment will we clothe ourselves today? Will we put on the Lord Jesus Christ, or will we wear the works of darkness and sin? Will our plans be to follow our Lord wherever He leads, or will we make provision for fulfilling the lusts of the flesh? Will we resolve to stay away from those places where we have no business being, or will we allow ourselves a little detour in the day to pursue sin’s temptations?
God has given every believer the indwelling Holy Spirit Who will empower us to live according to His plans and purposes, but we must choose to allow Him to live through us. The Lord enables each of us to do that which we could never do in our own strength, yet it is up to us not to resist the work He is doing. Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, dear friends, and make no provision for the flesh.
To God goes all glory. In service to Him,