After the apostle Paul encourages the church at Rome to love their neighbors and thereby fulfill the second table of the Law, he draws a glorious picture of the life of Christian by depicting it as a single day on this earth.
He begins by writing, “Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed” (v. 13:11). The picture that the apostle is giving is that of person who is lying in bed at dawn, and the light of the day is breaking over the horizon. The person, prior to the dawn, was ever asleep and his life was characterized by the darkness of night. But now, he has seen his salvation and has believed, and for him, “the night is far gone; the day is at hand” (v. 13:12a).
For those to whom the apostle is speaking, the darkness of their former existence is far gone, and the light of day is now their only existence. For this reason, the apostle exhorts them to throw off the works of darkness that formerly characterized their lives, and encourages them instead to put on the armor of light. And when the Christian wakes to God in this life, he wakes into enemy territory, and he therefore must do two things: one, cast off works of darkness, and, two, put on the armor of light.
First, the apostle exhorts his readers to cast off the works of darkness. Concerning their former lives lived in dead darkness, the apostle says that those days are in the past, and the Christian is now to “walk properly as in the daytime” (v. 13a). Just as their former existence was characterized by walking in the darkness, so now their new existence is to be characterized by walking in the light. Therefore the apostle continues, “[Walk] not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy” (v. 13b). These things, among others, are the works of those who are in darkness, and they are, by no coincidence, thoroughly egocentric works. They are the same works practiced by those of whom the apostle speaks earlier in his letter, “[God] will render to each one according to works…. For those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury” (v. 2:6, 8). However, those to whom the apostle is speaking have seen their salvation from afar, and they therefore have the power by the Spirit to cast off their former works.
Second, the apostle exhorts his readers to put on the armor of light. What is this armor of light? This can be seen in v. 13:14, where the apostle admonishes the Christian to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” What does it mean to put on the Lord Jesus Christ? It means to put on him, the Righteous One, who has forever lived in the Light of day. Christ is the salvation of whom the apostle speaks in v. 11, and his Return is nearer to us now than when we first believed. What then does putting on Christ accomplish? It accomplishes righteousness for those who are him here and now, and it gives to them the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit so that they are now able to walk in the light and not make provisions for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
Concerning this, the apostle writes earlier in length:
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God had done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do, by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live (Rm. 8:1-13).
For those to whom Salvation is near, their lives are fundamentally different than those who walk in darkness. And it is not because of what they have done by their natural ability, but because of what God has done in them through the work of Christ by the Spirit. Therefore, if one has been awakened and has seen his Salvation from afar, he is not a self-seeker that incurs wrath and fury, but he as those of whom the apostle speaks earlier, who seek for glory and honor and immorality and gain eternal life (v. 2:7).
Categories: Fridy Night Bible Study