11 And do this since you understand the present time. It is already the hour for you to wake up from sleep, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is almost over, and the day is drawing near. So let us put away the deeds of darkness and put on the weapons of light. 13 Let us walk decently as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual sin and wild living, not in strife and jealousy. 14 Instead, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not give any thought to satisfying the desires of your sinful flesh.Romans 13:11-14
Wake up! It’s been a busy couple of days and you’re probably tired! After your Thanksgiving dinner did you want to take a nap? Then up early for Black Friday deals and late nights with family and friends can wear you out. I hope you’re awake this morning and that you can keep awake for a few minutes during this message.
There are times when you absolutely want to be awake so you don’t miss it. One of my greatest fears is oversleeping on Sunday morning. In order to prevent this I set my phone’s alarm and I have a back up battery powered alarm on the night stand just in case. I want to make sure that I wake up on time so I can enjoy my coffee and study my sermon and never miss this big event—being here to worship and praise our God together, and to share God’s Word with you.
Today is the 1st Sunday in Advent. Advent is the time we prepare for big events. There are many applications in Romans 13 to help us be awake and prepared for Christmas. It is also a buzzing alarm that wakes us from spiritual slumber so we don’t miss out on the biggest event of our life—our salvation! Paul was inspired by the Holy Spirit to set that alarm for us like this: “It is already the hour for you to wake up from sleep, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.” You can see both points here. This season of the church year points us to the time when God became flesh in order to live and die as our Substitute and provide salvation for all people. And it points us to the second coming of Christ on the Last Day. For sure we want to
Wake up! Get Dressed!
To Put Off Darkness
God talks about waking up from spiritual slumber. What do you think this looks like? In our Gospel lesson today Jesus compared this spiritual slumber to the people living during the days of Noah. “38 In fact, in the days before the flood people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the very day that Noah entered the ark. 39 And they did not realize what was coming until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be when the Son of Man returns” (Matt 24:38-39). The people were going about their daily lives and we know from Genesis that their daily lives were all about living wicked lives without any thought for God. They were soaking up the world, and even though they had received a stern warning from the Lord God to repent and avoid destruction, they simply didn’t care. They were spiritually asleep.
We might describe the people of Noah’s day as blatant unbelievers who rejected God’s holy will. However, Paul is writing this letter to Christians and reminding them how easy it is to become spiritually lazy and indifferent about God, Jesus, and nourishing our faith. We all can tell stories about people we know who once were on fire for Jesus and their wonderful relationship with God. But, then over time the business of life, failing to make God’s Word a priority for personal Bible reading, and even going so far as to listen to the devil’s lie who says, “I don’t have to go to church to be a Christian.” That flies in the face of the Psalmist who wrote, “I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord” (Ps 122:1). This speaks to our attitude toward God’s kingdom work, to our church that provides avenues of service but we fail to participate, to our “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage” shopping, working, playing and giving little thought to what matters—Jesus and our soul’s eternal life! When we are tempted to grow cold and fall into spiritual slumber, pray for God’s mercy to blast his alarm to “Wake up!”
And what happens after we wake up? We have to get dressed! Some of you might spend a long time standing in your closet wondering what to wear. Others of us take about a minute to put on our clothes for the day. As God’s people, how shall we dress for the day? Paul said, “So let us put away the deeds of darkness.” He describes what their spiritual clothes look like, “carousing and drunkenness, … sexual sin and wild living, ….strife and jealousy.” The devil loves to make these bad spiritual clothes look appealing. Careless partying, drinking too much, being unfaithful to your spouse, viewing videos and images behind closed doors, jealousy and hatred of others that boils in the corners of your heart. That’s the thing about bad spiritual clothes—they tempt you to engage wicked sins with little care or concern about the deadly consequences. That’s how sins works. First, you consider it, then you get comfortable with it, and then you embrace it by putting it on. You have your list of pet sins that you love to cuddle up with. Well, dear Christian friends, Stop! Heed the buzzing alarm from Isaiah, “It is your guilt that has separated you from your God, and your sins have hidden God’s face from you, so that he does not hear” (59:2). Hear God’s call to repent. Wake up! Put Off the Sins of Darkness! And Get Dressed! Yes, let’s
Get Dressed with Jesus!
When you have a special event for which you have been preparing—let’s say and early morning trip to Grandma’s house or a hunting trip—you set your alarm so you don’t miss it. Do you ever wake up before the alarm goes off or the sun comes up because you’re so excited about the event? There are great events in our future. That is why the colors of our paraments are blue—the color of the sky. Our eyes are on the clouds in the sky because of the great event of Jesus’ return. Also, this anticipation is reflected in our preparation for the great event of Christmas. These are great events in our life that we don’t want to miss. Paul wrote, “It is already the hour for you to wake up from sleep, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is almost over, and the day is drawing near. So let us put away the deeds of darkness and put on the weapons of light.” We know that light is Jesus. Jesus is the light that reveals the sins we’ve done in darkness, and he is the light that overcame the darkness of sin for us so we can live in the eternal light of God’s glory.
You probably have a morning routine—things you do to put off the darkness and enter into a new day. Maybe you get up and stretch a bit in order to get the blood flowing. You rub your eyes and open the shades to let in some light. They tell us we should drink a glass of water first thing. Then you grab your first cup of coffee for the caffeine kick, take a shower, put on some clothes, brush your teeth, and eat some breakfast for your hungry tummy. These things are part of your morning routine, the habits you’ve made in order to put of the darkness and enter into a new day. But, you’re not really ready yet.
We also need a spiritual routine to shake of the spiritual darkness of sin, temptations and to prioritize our life as God’s people. What does this look like? Maybe you have your baptism certificate hanging in your bedroom and a quick glance at that will remind you that your baptism means that the Old Adam in us should be drowned by daily contrition and repentance, and that all its evil deed and desires be put to death. It also means that a new person should daily arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever. Then after your morning routine you might spend some time in God’s Word, the daily Meditations or reading through a Book of the Bible and give your soul a hearty meal of God’s mercy, love, forgiveness and peace. Then you can stretch your spiritual muscles with a prayer to adore your God, confess your sins, thank him for blessings and pray for others you know and love. In doing this you’re doing what Paul said, “14 Instead, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not give any thought to satisfying the desires of your sinful flesh.” There you are, spiritually dressed with Jesus.
I’m sure you noticed that I didn’t come to church today in my pajamas. That would be shocking! If I stayed in my pajamas wouldn’t you think I was longing to get this sermon over with and go back to bed in the darkness of my room? No, we’re dressed for the day—the Lord’s Day! We’re awake and dressed as God’s people. Dear Friends in Christ, “Let us put away the deeds of darkness and put on the weapons of light.” As students of the Bible perhaps you hear this phrase and you think of Paul’s expanded explanation of this Armor of Light in Ephesians 6 (belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shield of faith, helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit). When we are dressed with Jesus we are equipped to ward off the attacks of sin and Satan. Then we are dressed and ready for the day in Christ. Today, the Lord blesses us with a beautiful set of clothes to put on. Come to the Lord’s Table and in, with and under the bread and wine you receive Christ—your beautiful robe of righteousness!
You’re still awake! Good! I don’t need to sound off the buzzing alarm to wake you up. Thank the Lord that you are spiritually awake in the Lord Jesus. You are God’s people—Awake! Put off the darkness and continue to put on Christ! Amen!