“And this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep, for now our salvation is nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent and the day is at hand. Let us, therefore, cast off the works of darkness and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day, not in rioting and drunkenness, not in lewdness and wantonness, and not in strife and envying. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ and do not make provision for the lusts of flesh.” Romans 13:11-14
Even though we confess it almost every Sunday in the Apostles’ and the Nicene creeds, we often forget the fact that the day of our Lord’s return to judge the living and the dead is drawing closer each and every day. “The night is far spent and the day is at hand” (Rom. 13:12).
Truly, it is high time to awake from the sleep of our sin-darkened minds and make ourselves ready for the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who is God Himself in the flesh, the judge of the living and the dead!
Rather than be lulled into the false security of thinking our Lord’s return and the day of judgment is far off and thinking we will have time later to repent and prepare ourselves for His coming, now is the time to “cast off the works of darkness and … put on the armor of light” (v. 12). Now is the time to “walk honestly, as in the day, not in rioting and drunkenness, not in lewdness and wantonness, and not in strife and envying” (v. 13). Now is the time to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ and … not make provision for the lusts of flesh” (v. 14).
While we may not see and recognize it, not only is our salvation threatened by the temptations of the devil and of the world around us, our own flesh – our old nature, inclined to sin and wickedness (cf. Rom. 7:18-19) – threatens to turn us away from Christ and back into the sinfulness and rebellion from which Christ has set us free.
The Bible tells us that our own hearts are “deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9) and that “the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Gen. 8:21).
We ourselves cannot overcome sin and drive it out of our lives. Thus, the Word of God directs us to put on the Lord Jesus Christ – to place our faith and hope in Him – and not provide the opportunity for our old sinful flesh to drag us back down into the muck and mire of sin. We are exhorted to “lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily besets us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, who, for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:1,2).
St. Paul warns us: “Shall we continue in sin so that grace may abound? By no means. How shall we, who are dead to sin, live any longer therein? … For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:1,23).
As the light of God’s Word shines upon our hearts, we are reminded that Jesus is coming and coming soon! He endures the wickedness of this world a little longer only because He desires all to repent and come to the knowledge of His grace and mercy in Christ Jesus. It is as St. Peter writes in his second epistle (2 Pet. 3:9): “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness, but is patient toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
The Apostle Peter, in Acts 3:19-20, said: “Therefore, repent and be converted so that your sins may be blotted out, and that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send Jesus Christ, who before was preached to you, whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.”
So now is the time for us to repent and look in faith to Christ Jesus and His blood, shed upon the cross for the sins of the world, that we may obtain His mercy, forgiveness, and life everlasting!
It is as John the Baptist testified: “The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. He who believes in the Son has everlasting life, and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:35-36).
O coming Savior, grant that I not be lulled to sleep in the darkness of sin but repent of my sins and wickedness and look to You for mercy, forgiveness, and the eternal joys of heaven You have prepared for all who trust in You. Amen.
[Scripture is quoted from the Revised Common Version of the Bible.]