Summary: At the end of Romans 13, Paul reminds Christians of the debt of love they owe and warns them to wake up and put off the deeds of darkness because the return of Christ is nearing.
A. One of my favorite things to do as a father when our daughters were growing up, was to wake them up in the morning.
1. I loved seeing their sweet, sleepy faces as I woke them with a gentle voice, saying, “It’s time to wake up.”
2. What is your attitude when you wake up?
a. I’m a morning person and waking up is easy for me.
b. Like many of you, I jump out of bed thinking, “This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.”
c. But I am aware that there are others who are allergic to mornings.
d. They just keep hitting the snooze button and try to stay in bed as long as they can.
3. Mark Lowry is a Christian comedian, singer and songwriter.
a. He jokingly suggests that people who have a hard time getting out of bed should rename their bed “The Word.”
b. That way when someone calls them early in the morning and they are still in bed, they can say: “I can’t talk right now, I’m in the Word.”
4. Another interesting thing about sleep and waking up is sleepwalking.
a. Some people do some pretty unusual things while sleepwalking.
b. According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleepwalking occurs when your brain gets caught between two different stages of sleep.
c. This is why many sleepwalkers engage in “awake” behaviors while asleep.
d. Here are some of the strangest things people have done while sleepwalking.
1. Holding full conversations.
2. Getting ready for work – ever gotten ready for work and realized it is only 2 AM?
3. Cooking, eating, or both – ever wondered how that cake disappeared?
4. Jumping out of windows – comedian Mike Birbiglia jumped from the window of his hotel room – it appears he was trying to get away from a threat in his nightmare.
e. Which reminds me of the time I woke up screaming in my childhood bedroom closet – my family opened my closet door, saw me sitting there, and asked what I was doing – I explained I was hiding in the closet and was warning them of an intruder in the house.
B. Why have I spent so much time talking about sleep at the beginning of this sermon?
1. Because in Romans 13:11, Paul says “it is time for you to wake up from your sleep.”
2. Sleep is not only something that we can experience on a physical level, it is also something that can happen to us spiritually.
3. As we will see in today’s section from Romans 13, Paul will employ several helpful illustrations regarding sleep, and daytime and nighttime.
4. But before we get into those illustrations and Paul’s important teachings, let’s be reminded of the context of this section we will study today.
C. This fourth section of Paul’s letter to the Romans began in chapter 12, where Paul called on believers to offer themselves completely to God as living sacrifices.
1. This call included a resistance to conformity to the world through a spiritual renewal of the mind.
2. This renewal of the mind should cause us to think of ourselves in the right way (12:3), to use our gifts for the good of the body of Christ (12:4-8), to display sincere love (12:9-21), and to submit ourselves to the governing authorities and to pay our obligations of taxes and respect (13:1-7).
3. Last week, I demonstrated how Paul’s call for believers to submit to governing authorities fits into this section, even though it seems like a bit of a detour.
4. But as Paul continues the letter in verses 8-10, we see Paul returning to his main theme of love.
D. So let’s pick up our study of Paul’s letter in chapter 13, with verses 8-10: 8 Do not owe anyone anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, Do not commit adultery; do not murder; do not steal; do not covet; and any other commandment, are summed up by this commandment: Love your neighbor as yourself. 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Love, therefore, is the fulfillment of the law. (Rom. 13:8-10)
1. Do you see how Paul cleverly plays on the notion of “debt” that he introduced in 13:7 to create a transition back into the topic of love?
2. Christians are expected to pay their “debts” and they are not to be in “debt” to anyone, but Paul wants us to understand there is one kind of debt that will never be paid in full: the debt of love.
3. Some people over the years have taken Paul’s words out of context and have suggested that obedience to Paul’s command means that Christians should never borrow money.