Summary: God, through Christ, honoring our faith, has given us an undeserved title—“Righteous one.” Now, how shall we live in this new clothing, in this new, changed life? In chapters twelve through fourteen of the book of Romans Paul talks about living in these n
A New Suit
In the early 1970s there was a best-selling book by B. F. Skinner entitled Beyond Freedom and Dignity. This may oversimplify the thesis, but I think that it fairly represents the author’s position. You and I are not free. We can claim no dignity for good decisions. Nor are we responsible for what some think are offenses. We are molded by other forces—the make-up with which we were born, and the combination of environmental influences in which we live. And we cannot change.
As Christians we believe otherwise, very strongly. Our will is involved. And God’s invitation is involved. He offers the Person and the power for change.
Picture yourself walking into a clothing store. You are in rags, hardly covered. And you have no money. You have come to ask the owner for simple clothes, something about to be discarded. But he gives you a fine new suit, shoes, underwear, shirt, all that you need. And he says, “Now, conduct yourself in a manner that fits the clothes.”
God, through Christ, honoring our faith, has given us an undeserved title—“Righteous one.” Now, how shall we live in this new clothing, in this new, changed life? In chapters twelve through fourteen of the book of Romans Paul talks about living in these new clothes as a member of the church, as a member of the state, and as a brother/sister to other Christians. Now, in this passage he instructs the Christian in society, in those new clothes, freed from the domination and the hold of sin.
I. Don’t Play in the Mud (13:8-10).
Now there is a reason. Before we came to Christ we didn’t see the point. In your family you may have had little boys. They loved to march through the mud-puddles, even when they had orders not to. But as older teen-agers it will have been several years since they wanted to do that. They have found young women, and they now take more pride in their appearance. There is a reason to avoid the mud.
A. The law simply said, “Don’t do it.”
B. Now, we are clothed in garments intended for the presence of God. He has given them to me, free and undeserved. And His love has taught me to love. That’s the one debt that I shall never intend to discharge.
II. Be Wide Awake, and Watch Where You Are Going (v. 11).
A. Don’t switch the frequency that has you on the same wave length with God.
B. Pay attention to, be awake to, the concerns of your inner spirit.
C. The old life wants your energy. The devil wants your energy. Great and rich possibilities call for your energy. Invest it alertly.
III. Stay out of the Shadows (vv. 12-14).
A. Trouble waits for those who grope in the dark.
B. The Christian life is open, practiced in light.
C. In that daylight life we provide for the important things.
1. I meet the physical needs of those who are my privileged responsibility.
2. I feed mine and I feed myself for a strong, mature spiritual self.
3. I make no provision for the earth-bound passions.
4. I put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
Several years ago two couples went to a fine restaurant for a special dinner. They had reservations. But one of the men did not have on a jacket. “I’m sorry,” said the headwaiter. “We cannot seat the young man without a coat.” Then, after looking them over and deciding that they would be OK, he suggested, “Would you like for me to get you one?” He brought a 42 long to put on a 37 regular body.
There was no admittance without a jacket to that fine place.
More importantly, there is no admittance to God’s heaven without new clothes. The old rags that we had dragged through the low spots in the world just won’t do. But God will give us new clothes. He will give them to all who will accept them and trust His Son. And they will fit. And we will live in them, gladly, in a way that honors the new garment.