Sin has humanity in a world of darkness. But with the birth of Jesus, light began to shine into the darkness. The night was replaced by a morning dawn, a new day that is coming. You and I are children of this day. Pastor Jason shares from Romans 13:11-14 to mark the first Sunday of Advent, beginning a series titled "Let us adore Him." This series is available from The Foundry Publishing, written by Samantha Chambo.Ravenna Church of the Nazarene
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LET US ADORE HIM
Text: Romans 13:11-14
My dad used to have a little black Nissan pickup truck. I cannot remember what year, but I do remember it was 2-wheel drive, 5-speed transmission, had a barely extended cab with side facing bucket seats, and at one point a sliding rear window. I say used to about the sliding rear window because one day dad was tossing logs in the back and tossed one through that window. Dad did not find it as funny as mom and me.
The other thing I remember about this truck is it was noisy. And that was before the muffler rusted and fell off. You could hear dad coming from a mile away. As a union wielder, plumber, and steamfitter, dad would go work wherever they sent him. Some jobs would have him getting home after I had to go to bed, but I rarely fell asleep before got there. I would lay there listening to hear his truck turning onto our street. Only when dad was home was able to sleep.
Advent is a celebration of Jesus’s coming into the world, light shining into the darkness. But this shining is really the breaking of dawn, as Jesus came to atone for sin so we could be reconciled to God. After His resurrection, Jesus ascended to heaven until a time known only by the Father. A time when Jesus will come again. That will be the new day, one when the King returns. One when dad is home.
READING OF THE TEXT
Paul points to this time in His letter called Romans.
11 … since you know the time, it is already the hour for you to wake up from sleep, because now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over, and the day is near; so let us discard the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk with decency, as in the daytime: not in carousing and drunkenness; not in sexual impurity and promiscuity; not in quarrelling and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and don’t make plans to gratify the desires of the flesh. (CSB)
Verse 11 reads, “Now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.” Paul is reminding Christians that the second coming of Jesus is coming. And Paul believed Jesus would return during his lifetime, as did Peter, the other apostles, and early Christians. Every generation has believed that Jesus’ return was imminent. The second coming is coming, if they all believed it was close, how close are we now?
Remember, there is a difference between the first coming and the second. Jesus showed how much God loved the world, beginning a period based on the good news of salvation through faith in the Son. The light is shining in the darkness, but the darkness is still around. There is sin, pain, and suffering in our world and lives, darkness. Even though we are standing in the light, the darkness remains and will remain until Jesus returns. Only then will darkness, sin, and death be fully destroyed.
Since we know the time, that “the night is nearly over and the day is near,” Paul writes in verse 11, “it is already the hour for you to wake up from sleep.” Many times, in the New Testament, sleep is used meaning death, but that is not the case in this letter. Paul is saying “snap out of your spiritual indifference and laziness.”
Dawn in the ancient culture, and for many now, is important. It was when people got up and got ready for the day. They got to work early before it got hot in the fullness of the day. As Christians on the verge of Christ’s return, now is the time of action. We must move to “put on the armor of light” and “discard the deeds of darkness.” In other words, change your clothes.
Discard the darkness
“Let us discard the deeds of darkness.” Changing our clothes, getting ready for dad to be home, is knowing that there is good and evil. It is accepting that we were once evil but through faith in Jesus we are not that way anymore. The filthy rags that were the clothes of our old life must be thrown out and replaced.
Later in verse 14, Paul tells us to “put on Christ” and “do not make plans to gratify the desires of the flesh.” Again, he is telling us to change our clothes. In between verse 12 and 14, Paul explains what got our clothes dirty and what will get them dirty. These are things we as Christians should not be chasing.
“Do not walk in carousing and drunkenness.” Carousing is another way of saying “after 2am go to sleep” or do not intentionally get in situations that are contrary to our faith in Jesus. Drunkenness is likely to happen after 2am. Sexual impurity is more likely to happen after 2am.
Notice what else is listed in verse 13. “Quarreling and jealousy” are listed. Theologian NT Wright shared an interesting insight. Wright stated, “We should not forget that ‘quarreling and jealousy’ are put on exactly the same level as immorality; there are many churches where the first four sins are unheard of but the last two run riot.” Do not fight with other Christians, nor put yourself in a position to do so. When they happen, be quick to seek a resolution.
These are the things that dirtied our clothes. Dad is coming home, and it would not be good for us to be found sleeping and wearing dirty clothes. A change of clothes is necessary.
Armor of light
The clothes Paul mentions are not a disguise, it points to who we are in Jesus. A new creature wearing clothes that have been washed white in the blood of the Lamb. “Put on the armor of light” and “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” In other words, believe in the gospel of Jesus. By believing, we receive the forgiveness of sin. Beyond forgiveness, we receive the Holy Spirit to live as children of the light.
Dad is coming home, but to be children of light we must be awake and be wearing a change of clothes. We wear these clean clothes in the same world that caused the old ones to get dirty, but they started off dirty. With the Holy Spirit we can walk in the light and keep the change of clothes clean.
Advent is celebrating the hope of Jesus coming into the world. It also points us to the hope of His return when the darkness is once and for all defeated. We have been talking about living as children of light, that hope that has come and is coming, until Jesus returns. That requires a change of clothes.
Twice in this passage, Paul writes that we are to “put on” these clothes. There is a moment when you get dressed, but you wear the clothes. To be a child of light, we must repent and have faith in Jesus. He then gives us the clean clothes; we must put them on and wear them. This hope in Jesus is only good in our life if we allow the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts and minds, empowering us to live in hope. The Holy Spirit allows us to shine the light of Jesus in the darkness.