“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. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”—Romans 13:11-14
In this passage, Paul gives us three commands:
First, wake up!
Have you ever been awakened from a deep sleep by an alarm or phone call? Your first reaction is to ask: what time is it? You may recall that Rip Van Winkle slept for twenty years and was surprised at the changes that had taken place when he awakened. Here, Paul is admonishing believers to wake up, because given the lateness of the hour, spiritually speaking, we’ve overslept.
Unbelievers are spoken of in the Bible as being dead, but many Christians are asleep. They are totally unaware of bypassed opportunities and how close the clock is ticking down to their own death, or even the return of Christ. We need to wake up, to repent of our lack of urgency. We are also unaware of the great needs that we have around us, spiritually speaking. How can we be comfortable with millions in spiritual darkness? Like a sleepwalker who functions with little energy and no self-conscious direction, believers often stumble through daily routines as if eternity didn’t matter.
Next, clean up!
“So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy” (13:12-13).
The imagery of darkness represents our original spiritual state. When we walk in darkness, we stumble because stones along our path cannot be distinguished from gold, a friend cannot be distinguished from an enemy, right becomes wrong, and wrong becomes right. “The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble” (Proverbs 4:19).
The bottom line: Paul is saying, get rid of all those sins that are characterized by darkness, the kinds of things that you’d never want to be caught doing in the daytime. We must confess and forsake our own darkness—the hidden things that rob us of joy and power.
Finally, dress up!
Paul writes, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ” (v.14). This means that we accept Christ as a Prophet—His word then becomes our bread and butter. We accept Him as our Priest for His forgiveness and intercession. We also submit to Him as King. Putting on Christ means that we clothe ourselves with all that He represents. Only such a covering can keep us from the darkness.
Paul ends this section, “make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” J.B. Phillips translates this verse, “Let us be Christ’s men from head to foot, and give no chances to the flesh to have its fling.”
Let Us Pray
Father, forgive me for the darkness in my life—those hidden closets of the soul where sin is allowed to live and even grow. Forgive my lack of spiritual awareness, my lack of urgency for the responsibility of representing You to this world. And, Lord, I’m aware that I’ve often “made provision for the flesh” by the television I’ve watched and the relationships I’ve tolerated. Help me to seek You with my whole heart with no reservations.
And Father, I pray for ____ that You might wake them up, spiritually speaking. Open their eyes to the reality that life is short and eternity is long. Impress on them the urgency of their own spiritual walk with You. And Father, I pray that the power of sin would be broken in their lives. May the value they place on their sins pale in comparison with the freedom and fulfillment that comes with submitting to Your sovereignty and direction.
Lord, if the first-century church in Rome needed to wake up to their reality, cause the evangelical church in America wake up to the moral, spiritual, and religious deceptions happening around us. May we be faithful to serve you acceptably.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.