Sun, Dec 28, 2008

It's Time to Wake Up! Romans 13:11-14

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Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.
IT’S TIME TO WAKE UP!
ROMANS 13:11-14

            Please turn in your Bibles this morning to Romans chapter 13 as we prepare for a New Year in a few days! It is hard to believe another year has gone by, where did that time go? Now in saying that, our focus this morning is, IT’S TIME TO WAKE UP!” In other words, as Christians we need to wake up and redeem the time we have because the days are truly evil and the Lord’s return is getting closer!

Some of you may not know this, but recently I was diagnosed with A.A.A.D.D. It stands for Age Activated Attention Deficit Disorder. I know, it was difficult for me too, but this is how it manifests:

I decided to wash my car. As I start toward the garage, I notice that there is mail on the hall table. I decide to go through the mail before I wash the car. I lay my car keys down on the table, put the junk mail in the trashcan under the table, and notice that the trashcan is full.

So, I decide to put the bills back on the table and take out the trash first. But then I think, since I'm going to be near the mailbox when I take out the trash anyway, I may as well pay the bills first.

I take my checkbook off the table, and see that there is only one check left. My extra checks are in my desk in the study, so I go to my desk where I find the bottle of coke that I had been drinking.

I'm going to look for my checks, but first I need to push the coke aside so that I don't accidentally knock it over. I see that the coke is getting warm, and I decide I should put it in the refrigerator to keep it cold.

As I head toward the kitchen with the coke, a vase of flowers on the counter catches my eye--they need to be watered. I set the coke down on the counter, and I discover my reading glasses that I've been searching for all morning.

I decide I better put them back on my desk, but first I'm going to water the flowers. I set the glasses back down on the counter, fill a container with water and suddenly I spot the TV remote. Someone left it on the kitchen table. I realize that tonight when we go to watch TV, we will be looking for the remote, but nobody will remember that it's on the kitchen table, so I decide to put it back in the den where it belongs, but first I'll water the flowers.

I splash some water on the flowers, but most of it spills on the floor.

So, I set the remote back down on the table, get some towels and wipe up the spill.

Then I head down the hall trying to remember what I was planning to do.

At the end of the day: the car isn't washed, the bills aren't paid, there is a warm bottle of coke sitting on the counter, the flowers aren't watered, there is still only one check in my checkbook, I can't find the remote, I can't find my glasses, and I don't remember what I did with the car keys.

Then when I try to figure out why nothing got done today, I'm really baffled because I know I was busy all day long, and I'm really tired. I realize this is a serious problem, and I'll try to get some help for it, but first I'll check my e-mail.

I know, you are thinking to yourself, “That explains a lot!”  But I am trying to get some help!  But seriously, as we prepare for this New Year we need to be awake, we need to pay attention, we need to be open to what the Lord is doing in us, as we will see in our study this morning. With that said, let’s begin reading in Romans chapter 13, starting in verse 11 and see what the Lord has for us as we study His Word.

ROMANS 13:11-14

            As you read through these verses you can easily see the urgency in Paul’s words. In these verses we have read I see seven admonitions or warnings, cautions for us, especially in the days we are living in. They are as follows:          AWAKE OUT OF SLEEP; THE LORD’S RETURN IS CLOSE; CAST OFF THE WORKS OF DARKNESS; PUT ON THE ARMOR OF LIGHT; WALK PROPERLY; PUT ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST; andMAKE NO PROVISION FOR THE FLESH. And so let’s look at these and see what we can glean from them as we prepare for the New Year!

1.  AWAKE OUT OF SLEEP – ROMANS 13:11a

            The Encyclopedia Britannica describes sleep this way. “A state of inactivity, with a loss of consciousness and a decrease in responsiveness to events taking place.”  Here in Romans Paul is calling for believers to awaken from the spiritual sleep that they are in.  What does that mean to us?  Simply, it speaks of unconsciousness, an unresponsiveness, and inactivity to the things of God!

            What was going on in Paul’s day continues on today among believers. Instead of being awake, watching out for the things of God, they are spiritually sleeping.  There is this indifference to the things of God. If you are in this spiritual state, Paul is calling for you to“WAKE UP!”

            Listen to this true story and I think you will see what I mean about being in this state. We are told:

            Seymour, Texas (AP) – Gene Tipps woke up and discovered the Vietnam War was over. His old girl friends had long since married and had children.

“Last thing I remember is that we were all kids and single. I know I’m 28, but to me, I’m still so,” 8 years of almost constant sleeping.

Tipps was critically injured in an automobile accident May 21, 1967. He suffered shock and acute swelling of the brain associated with trauma, and doctors held little hope of recovery. He was comatose for three weeks following the accident, but after he came out of the coma he suffered from complete amnesia.

“We would get him up and feed him and no matter what we did, he would go lay down and go to sleep. He had no desire to do anything,” says his mother, “Mrs. O. E. Tipps.

Last month, while recuperating from gall bladder surgery, Tipps brushed away a nurse’s efforts to give him some medication and he snapped out of his eight-year daze. 

Tipps thought he had been asleep two weeks. He doesn’t remember when he used to sit in a chair, staring, or his parent’s efforts in the past five years to exercise him on a stationary bicycle to maintain muscle tone.

     - Paul Lee Tan, Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations, 5767

            Many times Christians are like this and they too are not even aware of their condition. They just go through life insensitive to the things of God and folks, when you are sleeping you are walking aimlessly. You have no real direction and the only solution to this problem is toWAKE UP!

            We see these exhortations in the Scriptures calling us to awaken out of our spiritual sleep many times. Let’s just look at a couple of those Scriptures. In Ephesians 5:14 Paul exhorts us to, Therefore He says: ‘Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.’

            Now as you read that it seems like Paul is speaking of the unsaved and that they need to awaken and come to Christ. That could be true but as you look at the context of these verses and the ones around it, Paul is most likely speaking of a saved person who is spiritually lethargic, lazy; they had no real spiritual life.

            Also, in I Thessalonians 5:6 Paul reminds us, Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober.  In other words, pay attention to what is happening around you, be sensitive to the things of God, be awake! You see, it is hard to do anything productive when you are asleep. Thus, let’s awaken to what God has for us as we walk as He leads!

            And folks, the next 6 points all flow from this main point, that we are to awaken out of our spiritual sleep. It all begins here as Paul says it is high time, there is no time to waste, do it now and the next point flows right from here, THE LORD’S RETURN IS CLOSE!

2.  THE LORD’S RETURN IS CLOSE – ROMANS 13:11b

            Paul tells us that the reason we need to awaken out of our spiritual sleep, our lethargy, is because the Lord’s return is getting closer. Folks, if Paul felt that way almost 2,000 years ago, we are now even closer to His return!

            Now, when Paul speaks of  our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.He is not just speaking of our coming into the family of God through Jesus Christ, but the consummation of all that salvation speaks of, our going into glory to be with the Lord.  That is the day that Paul is speaking of and we are some 2,000 years closer than when Paul wrote this letter to the Romans!

            Paul is telling us that our time is short; the Lord is coming back soon. Thus, don’t waste the time that God has given to you, use if for the Lord! Paul puts it like this in Ephesians 5:14-16, Therefore He says: ‘Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.’ See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.  You see, we need to wake up and redeem the time, take advantage of the situations we are in to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to a dark, to an evil world. You see, if you are sleeping you can’t do anything productive, thus, wake up to what God has for you and walk as He is leading you, because His return is getting close!

The word "maranatha" is a Syriac expression that means: "our Lord comes." It was used as a greeting in the early church. When believers gathered or parted, they didn't say "hello" or "goodbye" but "Maranatha!" If we had the same upward look today, it would revolutionize the church. O that God's people had a deepening awareness of the imminent return of the Savior!

While on a South Pole expedition, British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton left a few men on Elephant Island, promising that he would return. Later, when he tried to go back, huge icebergs blocked the way. But suddenly, as if by a miracle, an avenue opened in the ice and Shackleton was able to get through. His men, ready and waiting, quickly scrambled aboard. No sooner had the ship cleared the island than the ice crashed together behind them. Contemplating their narrow escape, the explorer said to his men, "It was fortunate you were all packed and ready to go!" They replied, "We never gave up hope. Whenever the sea was clear of ice, we rolled up our sleeping bags and reminded each other, 'The boss may come today.'"

The hymn writer Horatius Bonar exhorted us "to be ready for the last moment by being ready at every moment...so attending to every duty that, let Him come when He may, He finds the house in perfect order, awaiting His return." The trump may sound anytime. How important for us as Christians to be "packed and ready to go!"

As you leave home today, don't say goodbye -- say "Maranatha!" 

- Our Daily Bread

            We should live every day with the expectant hope that Jesus might come back today. Now, in saying that, why are so many Christians unconcerned, they are not excited about the Lord’s return coming quickly? I believe it is because they have too much of the world in them and they refuse to let go!

            Think about it like this. If you can have all the worldly possession you could ask for, all the happiness in life, all the relationships you could ever want or be with the Lord now, which would you desire more?  I pray it is the Lord because if not, then you are missing the big picture. You see, and this is a guarantee. When you go to be with the Lord, you will not say, “I wish I had a few more years on earth to enjoy this or enjoy that.” But you will say when you get there, “Why did it take so long to get here? What was I thinking?”

            In His presence is fullness of joy, it doesn’t get any better than that folks, and that fullness of joy can begin down here as you come before the Lord each and every day! Paul put it like this in Titus 2:13 in regards to the Lord’s return, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.  Thus, the Lord’s return is close, which leads us to our next point, may we CAST OFF THE WORKS OF DARKNESS!

3.  CAST OFF THE WORKS OF DARKNESS – ROMANS 13:12a-b

            When Paul speaks of the night being far spent and that the day is at hand, what is he talking about? He is talking about the time of man’s rebellion against God and that time is almost over, the darkness of the night is about to end and God’s divine judgment is about to begin and He will usher in the Kingdom Age or His reign on this earth!

            Thus, as Christians we are not to be like the unsaved of this world, we are to cast off the darkness and shine as children of God! The idea of laying it all aside means forsaking it, renouncing it, to get rid of those that that will darken your witness for Christ!

I like the way that Spurgeon put it in regards to casting off the works of darkness. He said: “The rags of sin must come off if we put on the robe of Christ.  There must be a taking away of the love of sin, there must be a renouncing of the practices and habits of sin, or else a man cannot be a Christian. It will be an idle attempt to try and wear religion as a sort of celestial overall over the top of old sins.”

And notice the progression that we are seeing here. First Paul tells us that we need to awaken out of our spiritual sleep because the Lord’s return is getting closer. And since the Lord’s return is getting closer people are getting more and more wicked and there is coming a day when the cup of their indignation will be filled and God will judge them, this night season is about over. Thus, we need to shine for Christ and to shine that means we need to cast off the works of darkness! Now, if something comes off then something needs to be put on to replace it and that is the next point, we are to            PUT ON THE ARMOR OF LIGHT!

4.  PUT ON THE ARMOR OF LIGHT – ROMANS 13:12c

            We are to throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light!  Paul has moved from the negative to the positive, as we are to lay aside the destructive darkness of sin and put on the protective light of righteousness!

            Of this John MacArthur tells us:

            The armor of light is "the full armor of God," which we are to put on in order "to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Eph 6:11-12). We cannot be spiritually and morally safe in anything less than "the full armor of God," in order to "be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm" (v. 13). God's full armor of light includes the girdle of "truth, . . . the breastplate of righteousness," feet shod "with the preparation of the gospel of peace, . . . the shield of faith with which [we] will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one," and "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (vv. 14-17).

- John MacArthur, Romans

            The idea here is this. We are no longer children of darkness, children of the night, but we are children of the day, children of the light! Thus, being children of the light we need to put on the armor of light so that we can shine brightly for Him! Think about it. If you are spiritually sleeping, if you are not waiting expectantly for the Lord’s return, then you are not going to be living a holy life, you will not cast off the works of darkness and thus, you will not put on the armor of light!

            Now you may not agree with that, you may not believe that, you may think I am wrong with my line of reasoning, but I believe it is very Scriptural. John tells us in I John 3:1-3,Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.  You see, living this hope in the return of Jesus Christ helps us to walk a holy life, a life that is pure, not perfect, but will reflect the light of Christ!

            Thus, as we awaken out of our spiritual sleep knowing that the Lord’s return is very close, it causes us to cast off the works of darkness and to put on the armor of light because we are children of the day and not children of the night anymore! And that leads us to our fifth point in this progression. If we are doing all those things then it is not time to stand still, it is not time to walk aimlessly through life, but to WALK PROPERLY!

5.  WALK PROPERLY – ROMANS 13:13

            You see, it is not a matter of walking anyway you want, going wherever you want to go. We are to walk properly as children of the day! And just in cast you might miss what Paul is saying, how we are to walk, he lists the negative or what we are not to do, how we are not to walk!

            We are not to walk in revelry or carousing and it comes from the Greek word, KOMOS (ko’-mos) and it was a term used of a celebration for a military or athletic victory, which usually turned into immoral activity. And this word came to mean any kind of wild activity, sexual orgies, brawls, even rioting, and Paul tells us that we are not to walk that way!

            He next speaks of drunkenness, which speaks of intentional or habitual intoxication. Paul is telling us we are not to walk this way!

            He also tells us that we are not to walk in lewdness and lust.  The Greek word for lewdness speaks of going to bed with someone of the opposite sex but not your spouse. The Greek word translated for lust or wantonness speaks of the lack of restraint and came to speak of lewd sexual immorality. Paul once again is telling us that we are not to walk this way!

            He next speaks of strife and the idea here is that of constant or persistent bickering, fighting, being contentious or arguable. In other words it is all about you and there is no love. Once again Paul is saying that we are not to walk this way!

            He then speaks of envy and the idea here is that of jealousy. Paul is saying that we are not to walk this way either!

            These seem very obvious to us, but it is not always easy, is it?  Folks, we can’t live as God desires in our own strength, our own ability and God never tells us to. We need His strength to walk properly and if you think it can’t happen, listen to what Dietrich Bonhoeffer was able to do for the Lord in very difficult situations. We are told:

At the height of WWII, Protestant theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer was imprisoned for taking a stand against Hitler. Yet he continued to urge fellow believers to resist Nazi tyranny. A group of Christians, believing that Hitler was the Antichrist, asked Bonhoeffer, "Why do you expose yourself to all this danger? Jesus will return any day, and all your work and suffering will be for nothing."

Bonhoeffer replied, "If Jesus returns tomorrow, then tomorrow I'll rest from my labor. But today I have work to do. I must continue the struggle until it's finished." 

- Daily Bread, November 10, 1991

            You see, Bonhoeffer lived with the idea that Jesus could return any day, and thus, he continued working with that in mind. He needed to work properly or decently! Paul told Titus in Titus 3:3-7, For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

            That is where we came from, but it is not where we are at today, at least it shouldn’t be! God has saved us and thus, we need to walk properly and by His strength we can! We need to be awake and we need to look for His soon return, casting off the works of darkness and putting on the armor of light, walking properly. But how can we accomplish this? We did touch on it but simply, PUT ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST!

6.  PUT ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST – ROMANS 13:14a

Here again the call is for application of the things of God, to walk decently, honestly, properly before God and our fellow man for the days are short!  To do this we must put on the Lord Jesus Christ, fill our lives with Him every moment of every day!  How many of you would get up in the morning and go to work naked? Don’t tell me, too much information.  Hopefully none of you and yet we go naked spiritually speaking and thus, the flesh is exposed instead of the spirit because we have not put on the Lord Jesus Christ! 

It is as Paul said in Colossians 3:8-10, But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.  Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.

Ray Stedman gives us this illustration in regards to putting on the Lord Jesus Christ.  He said:

            When I get up in the morning I put on my clothes, intending them to be part of me all day, to go where I go and do what I do. They cover me and make me presentable to others.  That is the purpose of clothes.  In the same way, the apostle is saying to us, “Put on Jesus Christ when you get up in the morning. Make him a part of your life that day.  Intend that he go with you everywhere you go, and that he act through you in everything you do.  Call upon his resources.  Live your life IN CHRIST.”

- Ray Stedman

            Of this portion of Scripture, Morris tells us: “Putting on Christ is a strong and vivid metaphor. It means more than put on the character of the Lord Jesus Christ, signifying rather let Jesus Christ Himself be the armor that you wear.”  What are you filling yourself with? What are you immersing yourself with?  Whatever it is will flow from your life!  May it be Jesus for as we read His Word, surrendered to His Spirit in obedience, we will have put on the Lord Jesus Christ and this must be done every moment of every day for the rest of our lives or else whatever you are filling yourself with will come flowing out!  Don’t give room for the flesh to resurrect itself!

            I like the way that John MacArthur put it as he responds to this portion of Scripture. He wrote:

We grow from one level of Christ's glory to another as we faithfully study and meditate on His Word, as we commune with Him in prayer, as we rely on His Holy Spirit, and as we "stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near" (Heb 10:24-25).

An athlete may don the uniform and take the name of a championship team, but it is his performance, not his team's uniform or name, that determines his own value as a player. A judge may put on the appropriate robe of his office, but it is his judicial knowledge and wisdom that determine his own merit as a judge. In a much deeper, but somewhat similar way, the person who receives Christ as Savior takes on the name of Christian. But the quality of his Christianity is determined by his own spiritual faithfulness.

- John MacArthur, Romans

            Here’s the thing. If you put on the Lord Jesus Christ you will make no provision for the flesh, our last point that we will deal with in a minute.  But, if you don’t fill yourself up with the Lord Jesus Christ, if you refuse to grow in Him, then the flesh will manifest it’s ugliness in your life! You see, first you put on Christ and then; because you have put on Christ youMAKE NO PROVISION FOR THE FLESH!

7.  MAKE NO PROVISION FOR THE FLESH – ROMANS 13:14:b-c

            The idea here with the word provision is forethought, planning ahead, provident care. In other words, you have dealt with those issues of the flesh, you have not allowed them to linger in your mind, you have cast them out, they are not welcomed in your life and because of that, you will not fulfill its lusts! 

            David put it like this in Psalm 101:2-8, I will behave wisely in a perfect way. Oh, when will You come to me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. I will set nothing wicked before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; It shall not cling to me. A perverse heart shall depart from me; I will not know wickedness. Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, Him I will destroy; The one who has a haughty look and a proud heart, Him I will not endure. My eyes shall be on the faithful of the land, That they may dwell with me; He who walks in a perfect way, He shall serve me. He who works deceit shall not dwell within my house; He who tells lies shall not continue in my presence. Early I will destroy all the wicked of the land, That I may cut off all the evildoers from the city of the Lord.  You see, he planned ahead, he was not going to put anything evil before him, he was not going to dwell with the wicked, but cast them out of his life so he does not go down their path with them! What a great lesson for us!

            On the other end of the spectrum, listen to what David tells us in Psalm 36:1-4, showing us how the wicked respond, what they do, how they play with sin and its lusts are forever on their minds. He wrote, An oracle within my heart concerning the transgression of the wicked: There is no fear of God before his eyes. For he flatters himself in his own eyes, When he finds out his iniquity and when he hates. The words of his mouth are wickedness and deceit; He has ceased to be wise and to do good. He devises wickedness on his bed; He sets himself in a way that is not good; He does not abhor evil.

            They have no fear of God and because of that, they do what they want, they think about wicked things and they think that good is bad and bad is good.  It is as John MacArthur wrote:

            The devout Puritan preacher Thomas Manton wrote, "Every corruption has a voice," meaning that every sort of sin finds a way to bring itself to man's mind and heart. To feel the desire to sin is evidence of the presence of sin in us. To fulfill that desire is evidence of the power of sin over us. As long as we are in our mortal bodies we will experience the presence of sin within us. But at no time does a Christian have to yield to sin's power. Because we have the provision of Christ's own nature and Spirit within us, we do not have to make provision for the flesh by fulfilling its lusts.

The flesh does not refer primarily to our physical bodies but to our remaining humanness, our lingering proclivity [appetite] to sin, which finds expression through our bodies. It is for that reason that, "having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body" (Rom 8:23). The provision for sin originates in our hearts, minds, emotions, and will, which are still influenced powerfully by the flesh. It is only as we "walk by the Spirit" that we "will not carry out the desire of the flesh" (Gal 5:16). And to walk by the Spirit is to live by the Word.

The urgency of obeying this command to put on Christ was expressed some years ago in a poem which beautifully communicates the sentiment of many Christians:

When I stand at the judgment seat of Christ,

and He shows me His plan for me,

The plan of my life as it might have been,

and I see how I blocked Him here

And checked Him there,

and would not yield my will.

Will there be grief in my Savior's eyes,

grief though He loves me still?

He would have me rich,

but I stand there poor,

Stripped of all but His grace,

while memory runs like a haunted thing

Down a path I can't retrace;

then my desolate heart

Will well nigh break

with tears I cannot shed.

I will cover my face with my empty hands,

I will bow my uncrowned head.

O Lord, of the years that are left to me,

I give them to Thy hand.

Take me and break me and mold me

to the pattern Thou hast planned.

- John MacArthur, Romans

            As the New Year fast approaches I would encourage you to read God’s Word and allow God’s Spirit to help you to grow. You see, the truth will set us free from the sins, the bondage, the lies of this world and that truth is the Word of God opened up to us by the Spirit of God! As a body of believers here at Calvary we are beginning our 14th year reading through the Word of God from Genesis through Revelation and I hope you join us this year. Each week in our church bulletin you will find passages to read each day, some from the Old Testament and some from the New Testament and by the end of the year, you would have read the whole council of God, the entire Word of God and what a blessing it will be for you in your walk with Him!

            As I begin to rap this up this morning, look at what we have seen. Paul is calling for us to WAKE UP from our spiritual sleep because the LORD’S RETURN IS GETTING CLOSER. And because the Lord’s return is getting closer, CAST OFF THE WORKS OF DARKNESS and replace it with the ARMOR OF LIGHT! Thus, as we do we are to WALK PROPERLY in the Lord.  How can all this be accomplished?  By PUTTING ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST and as you do, you will MAKE NO PROVISION FOR THE FLESH!

            Let me admonish you this morning as we are on the verge of a New Year with these words from Peter who tells us in II Peter 3:17-18, You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.

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