[Romans 13:11-14] 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. 12 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. 13 Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
Salvation Drawing Nearer to Us Now
“Salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.” This is what Advent reminds us. Salvation is nearer to us now. Our King is processing toward us, to arrive on the Last Day, just as He processed into Jerusalem.
When your King does arrive, don’t be found wearing the enemy’s colors.
You are children of God living behind enemy lines – soldiers of the one true King. Sometimes sin takes us captive. The coming King has pity. When He arrives, He will free many captives, and you will be freed from those sins that plague you.
But, brothers and sisters, sometimes you are fraternizing with the enemy. Sometimes you willingly put on sin’s uniform. Sometimes you are finding entertainment or pleasure in sensuality and sexual immorality – in what you watch or in what you do. Sometimes you are taking joy or taking refuge in drunkenness.
And note this, that jealousy and quarreling – what you see as harmless complaining and gossiping – are listed along with sexual immorality and things about which you would be ashamed. If you are quarrelling, if you are complaining or gossiping, you should be just as ashamed before God who sees all things.
The lightness with which you take sin leads to a life of taking your R&R with the enemies of sin, death, and the devil without even realizing it. Other things can be listed – greed, boasting of oneself, the pride of life, self-righteousness, disregard for those around you who have less than you – “For the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,’ and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” [Romans 13:9-10].
Advent shouts at us what is daily true: “the hour has come for you to wake from sleep”; “cast off the works of darkness”; “walk properly as in the daytime”; stop making “provision” – stop making room – “for the flesh to gratify its desires.”
Here, we are warned not to be found dressed in these obvious sins when our King arrives. Elsewhere, Jesus warns us of the neutral colors: “For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” [Matthew 24:37-39]
Eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage – things that are neither right nor wrong in themselves – our Lord describes a people living as if totally unaware of something bigger coming. Living unconcerned about something permanent and eternal, for better or for worse, pending.
When the Lord comes to gather up His people, brothers and sisters, His angels will not be searching for neutral parties. Those who are the Lord’s will be assumed to be visible. By their life and actions – by their conduct and words – as if by a uniform in battle – those who are the Lord’s will be apparent.
Is it obvious that you are the Lord’s? If your rooms were searched, if your time was logged, if someone could even peer into what occupies your mind, if your conversations were all recorded – would it be obvious by such a search that you are one who waiting for the Lord’s return? “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?... faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead… Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” [James 2:14-18]
This is what judgment is like. Just as a body is recognized to be alive by its breathing, so also are repentance and faith in Christ recognized by their fruits. When the Lord searches on that Day, will He find you as one wearing the uniform-life of willing obedience to His Word in thanksgiving for the salvation He has won for you?
What shall we do? Do not live indifferent to the fact that you are a creature who will soon give an account to your Creator – do you live as under His command?
The hour comes. So live daily in self-examination. “Do His promises and commandments daily have the prominent place in my life? In what ways are the enemy’s colors showing through?”
Live with diligence. Daily be casting off whatever may belong to sin and the enemy. Put on the right uniform – daily be putting on the Lord Jesus. He is your uniform provided.
Our text today says it: “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” What is it to put on Jesus? In what ways is He your covering?
First, Brothers and sisters, Jesus is your covering because He covers all your sin. Be dressed in Jesus because He is clothing that covers shame and sin. As today’s text says, it is your salvation that is drawing near – “Salvation is nearer to us now.”
It is a Savior-King who is coming – be dressed in His salvation. Jesus does not leave the repenting sinner naked, but is Himself your covering. “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin” [Romans 4:7-8]. “In Holy Baptism ______ was clothed in the robe of Christ’s righteousness which covered all his sin.”
You are also dressed in Christ in this way: As the uniform you grow up into. A uniform changes a man. Studies show that how you dress to work can actually improve your performance. We grow into our clothing, and we act how we are dressed.
“Put on the Lord Jesus.” Go each dressed in Jesus. Dressed in Christ we become Christian, more and more. Daily put on Jesus as the uniform you go to life’s work in, growing up into that robe of His righteousness that is covering you.
Your King is coming. Salvation is drawing nearer to you now than when you first believed. Live by trust that you are forgiven in Him, at peace with God. Live trusting His Word and commandments to be your right guide. Dress daily to be visible as one who is the Lord’s – clinging to Jesus in faith as your coat in the cold and your uniform behind enemy lines. Amen.