Summary: How will i be clothed when he comes again
‘Waken up!’ If you are not a morning person you must really hate those words. If you just love that feeling of rolling over and going back to sleep then to hear those words, accompanied by the duvet being pulled back must really rank up there as the worst way to start the day. Sometimes we hear ‘waken up’ and it means we need to have our eyes open to something that is going on around us that we are missing. I am sure you have heard the expression ‘waken up and smell the coffee!’ In the reading that Lindy read for us this morning that is exactly what Paul is writing to the believers in the church at Rome. These verses (11-14) are in fact a summary of the argument that Paul began in 12.1 concerning the Second Coming of Christ and the way Christian believers should live in the light of that fact. In AD386, in Milan, Italy, this passage led to the conversion of St Augustine – you can read it in his Confessions. Turn with me to 13 verses 11-14.
Verse 11- there is urgency in what Paul writes in this verse. Paul is not speaking about some remote time in the future for which they can prepare at leisure. Having spoken of the need to love their neighbours as themselves (1-10) Paul now exhorts them to understand the time in which they live and to waken up from spiritual slumber. They are to remember that they live in a critical period – the era between the first coming and the second coming of Christ Jesus. This expectation hovers over all believers and they are to live in the light of that expectation. Isn’t it interesting that he has to tell the Christian believers not to slumber but to be watchful and alert for the coming of Christ. He tells them the time of their ‘salvation’ is nearer than when they first believed in Christ Jesus. By that he means that the fulfilment of salvation is near. The bible speaks of salvation in past, present and future senses – so I am saved (Eph 2.8), I am being saved (1 Cor 15.2), I will be saved (1 Peter 1.9). Here Paul is speaking of the final consummation of their salvation when Christ returns. They must waken up to that fact. Obviously some of them had started to drift asleep in their walk with God. You know how you start to do the ‘nodding dog’, eyes get heavy, heaviness comes over you and suddenly you find someone poking you and you hear ‘waken up!’ That is exactly what Paul is doing here to the believers at Rome. He wants them to live that day, that moment in the expectation of the return of Christ. How would, or should, the fact that Christ could come today change how you live your life today? Seriously, if you knew Christ would come today would you live in a different way? Why don’t you then live like that now?
Verse 12 – Paul uses the contrast between day and night, darkness and light to depict the difference Christ and His return makes, and should make, in the life of the believer. Note also that he does not exclude himself from this admonition – ‘Let us…’ Paul does not place himself above them or above his own teaching. He too needs to step out of darkness into the marvellous light of Christ and to live accordingly.
Night/darkness – depicts evil and sin. The night is nearly ended in that the return of Christ is nearer than when they first believed in Him. There is also a sense in which their present life is still lived in the realm of darkness but they are to remove the clothes of darkness – that is the works of sin and the deeds belonging to their old lives. The lifestyle/behaviour which they indulged in before coming to Christ are to be taken off and left in the darkness because they no longer live in darkness but they have crossed over into the light of Christ Jesus. Light depicts those who have passed through the experience of salvation in Christ. Therefore the clothes (the deeds of sin) are no longer their clothing for their lives – they have done away with such things by coming to Christ Jesus. Hence the admonition earlier in this chapter to love Christ and to love their neighbours. Their lives are to be lives filled with love for Christ and for others – the very opposite of the self-centredness of the old life they lived when they belonged to the darkness. They put off the ‘works of darkness’ by putting on ‘the armour of light.’ Note will you they do not put on the works of light but the armour of light. This is important for them, and us, to grasp. It is a battle which they have entered by coming to faith in Christ and in order to fight that battle they need the right equipment. In Ephesians 6.10-20 Paul lists the armour of light – and in other letters he mentions armour. Christ takes us from darkness to light, from sin to salvation but we must not fall asleep in this present time – we must put on the armour provided and engage in the battle. How do they, and we, do this?