Summary: In light of the fact that the kingdom is coming, what should we do? First, wake up. Second, dress up, put on the armor of light. Third, clean up, put away everything that pollutes and defiles. Fourth, we should grow up.
ROMANS 13: 11-14
THE COMING KINGDOM
This section refers to the climactic event to which all Christians eagerly look forward, the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus. This event is going to be as dramatic as the daily arrival of dawn and the resultant banishment of darkness. When Christ returns, as He promised He would, the night will give place to day and darkness will be lost in the light of His presence. It is to this overwhelming event that all believers look forward. It is the dawning of this new day that we longingly anticipate. [Briscoe, D. Stuart. The Preacher's Commentary Series, Vol 29: Romans. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1982, S. 239.]
In light of the fact that the kingdom is coming, what should we do? First, wake up (verse 11). Second, dress up (verse 12). That is, put on the armor not of condemnation, or antagonism, but of light. Third, clean up (verse 13). That is, put away drunkenness, envy, and everything else that pollutes and defiles.
Fourth, in light of the coming kingdom, we should grow up. That is, we are not to make any provision to fulfill the lusts of the flesh. [Courson, Jon: Jon Courson's Application Commentary. Nashville, TN : Thomas Nelson, 2003, S. 981]. The day of His coming is nearer than when you first believed. Soon we'll be out of here!
So following the declaration that godly love fulfills the law (13:8–10), the next focuses is the urgency of believers becoming more and more like Jesus Christ. Why? Because He Himself the source and power of that divinely required love. We are to "put on the Lord Jesus Christ" (v. 14a). That phrase indicates the continuing spiritual growth or sanctification (the theme of chapters 12–16) of those who have become children of God through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. The faithful, obedient, loving Christian grows spiritually by becoming increasingly like Jesus Christ. As we clothe ourselves with Christ, His righteousness, truth, holiness, and love become more and more evident in our lives. [MacArthur, John. Moody. 1994, p. 255.] In this transformation we take hope. For God is saving and will save His people.
I. WAKE UP, 11-12a.
II. DRESS UP, 12b.
III. CLEAN UP, 13.
IV. GROW UP, 14.
Verse 11 urges us to wake up out of spiritual lethargy. "Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for salvation is now nearer to us than when we believed."
Showing divine love is a Christian's constant responsibility, but it is especially crucial in light of or to understand the time (lit, "knowing the season"). This time is not a reference to time in general but to the end-time and to the approaching return of the Lord Jesus. It is a time for spiritual vigilance and industriousness. Therefore the command is to "wake up from your slumber" (Eph. 5:14; 1 Peter 5:8). Don't be conformed to this age. Don't be satisfied with earthy things.
This need for alertness is because our salvation (ultimate or final salvation realized at the return of the our Lord; Rom. 8:23; Heb. 9:28; 1 Peter 1:5) is nearer now than when we first believed (James 5:8). Each passing day in the faith brings final salvation and deliverance closer.
At the moment of justification the repentant believer is established in a salvation that is far from complete. At that same moment he also becomes an heir to a salvation that will not be complete until he meets Christ face to face to experience full salvation. Our initial salvation delivers us from the penalty of sin [and makes us an heir to the salvation which promises us total freedom from sin's power and presence]. As the believer carries out the instructions of the Book of Romans he begins to be delivered from sin's power. But one day, when Christ takes us to glory, our salvation from sin's penalty, power, and presence will be our's in fact. To this great day the believer looks forward.
"The problem with living on earth is that the things of earth which clamor for so much attention can become totally absorbing. The Christian can begin to think like secular man, drink his philosophies, adopt his attitudes, and emulate his lifestyle. But the believer must be reminded that his life is not found down here. Our life is up there. We are citizens of heaven and merely a resident alien on earth. We must remind ourselves of the certainty of Christ's return and the resultant consummation of earth's history. This reorientation acts as a constant stimulus to the believer with regard to his lifestyle on earth" [Briscoe, p. 239].
Verse 12 proclaims that the day of Christ is rapidly approaching. "The night is almost gone, and the day is near.