Romans 13:14


Monday, 9 December 2013

But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its  lusts.  Romans 13:14

We’ve come to the end of chapter 13 with a most beautiful prescription. Paul begins with “but.” This is to contrast what was stated in verse 12 where we are to, “cast off the works of darkness.” Instead of being clothed in such deeds, we are admonished to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” An exchange is to be made in our lives when we call on Christ. Salvation isn’t the end of the story, but the beginning of a new, beautiful one.

It may seem odd that we are to “put on” a person, but this was an idiom of Greek literature. To “put on” another means to take on his qualities, follow his principles, imitate his life and mannerisms, and walk in the same spirit as that person. It is an idiom of complete emulation of that person. And this is what Paul is asking of us; to adorn ourselves with the likeness of Christ. In so doing, we are to “make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.”

The flesh, or the earthly human nature, is contrary to life in Christ. Instead of gratifying our old Adam, we are to be emulators of, and pleasing to, our new Master, Jesus. The manner in which He walked, we are to walk. The attitudes He displayed are to be displayed by us. He was meek, gentle, loving, and caring of those who were ignorantly lost in sin. At the same time, He was strong and aggressive against those who looked at their own self-righteousness and who denied that they were in need of God’s grace and mercy.

Those who see a weak and overly-tolerant Jesus completely miss how he handled the arrogant, proud, and boastful. Putting on Christ then is to put on the complete Christ. We are to be loving to those who need love, caring to those who are down and out, and meek with those who are humble. We are also to be stern and strong as we stand against those who promote perversion, divisiveness, arrogance, and a haughty, self-righteous attitude.

Life application: We are to put on Christ in all of His glory, standing firm against the deeds of darkness and the lusts of the flesh. In order to fulfill this, we must know how He acted and when He took action; we must know our Bible. Be sure to have a complete picture of who Jesus is.

Lord, it is right that I should follow You and endeavor to emulate You in all ways. When I face the needy, I am to extend an open hand. When I encounter the afflicted, I am to provide comfort. When I face the arrogant or self-righteous, I must stand against their haughtiness and be firm in promoting right morality. Help me to be balanced in my emulation of You. Amen.

Romans 13:13


Sunday, 8 December 2013

Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. Romans 13:13

Paul uses the common idiom “walk” to describe the way to conduct one’s life. When he says, “Let us walk properly” he is saying then that we should conduct our lives properly. When we walk about, we interact with others, we converse with others, we set our paths on certain goals, etc. Therefore, as we walk about, doing any of these or a myriad of other things, we should remember our conduct and select honorable destinations.

To describe this proper walking, Paul says that it should be “as in the day.” When one walks at night, they can’t see clearly where they are heading. It’s also harder to see where one’s foot is going to step. Tripping becomes easier, falling into a pit may happen, or even bumping into a nice hard wall is a possibility. The spiritual symbolism of walking at night is one of improper and unhealthy conduct.

And as examples of such conduct, he says we should not walk “in revelry and drunkenness.” Excessive alcohol leads to belligerence and fighting. Someone who is already a loud-mouth will only increase in that manner when in a stupor. The natural result of hanging out at bars all night is trouble. Paul asks us to consider who we belong to and the name that we bear and not to allow ourselves to diminish others’ perceptions of Christ through this type of behavior.

He next mentions “lewdness and lust.” This was a common attitude in the Roman and Greek areas of Paul’s time and it is ever-increasing in the world again today. Young TV stars grow up, and along with their fame comes a desire to continue to be noticed. And so they will stretch what is morally acceptable to see how far they can go. As they do, young eyes notice and they emulate what they see. Quickly society has been reduced to doing anything in order to grab attention, no matter how profane. With the advent of the internet, someone can demonstrate the most vile perversions to millions of people, and then others then want to join in. It is a cycle of depravity which we are asked to refrain from. We are to conduct ourselves in a circumspect manner, remembering that the Lord is not pleased with sexually immoral behavior.

Finally in this verse, “strife and envy” are noted. Strife is the constant argumentative attitude which many possess. It doesn’t matter what they believe, they will always take a contrary side to an issue, simply to cause division and argument. Strife could also include having a litigious attitude. When someone sues another for minor or dubious reasons, they are causing harm to others. Suits should be used only in circumstances where actual harm has resulted. And that harm must have been by the truly negligent conduct of another. Spilling hot coffee on oneself is not a just an honorable reason for suing the maker of the coffee; it is perverse.

“Envy” is from the word zelo (zeal). It is a fervid passion, but it is misdirected passion. In Galatians 4:18, Paul says, “But it is good to be zealous in a good thing always…” The reciprocal is true too though. Misdirected zeal is always a bad thing. We must use the Bible as our standard for the things we are zealous for. If the Bible is silent on an issue, then our zeal is acceptable as long as it doesn’t turn into an idol. For example, it is wonderful to be zealous for hard work, and the Bible commends hard work. But we can make hard work an end in and of itself. It can become an over-riding passion and thus replace our devotion to God. Setting aside a day of rest in one’s work week is a wonderful thing as it helps us to redirect our thoughts away from what otherwise consumes our time.

Life application: Paul tells us to walk “as in the day.” Our life should be plainly and evidently seen by those around us. Our conduct should be honorable and glorifying of Christ. If we act in a manner which belies our calling, then He will be diminished in the eyes of those who see us.

Glorious Lord, You have instructed me to walk properly, as if in the daylight. And so, may the conduct of my life be appropriate to the high calling of Jesus. Keep me from deeds of darkness and the sin which so easily besets. Rather, give me the wisdom to walk in holiness, purity, and as a radiant example of the precious mandates You have given me in Your word. Amen.

Romans 13:12


Saturday, 7 December 2013

The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Romans 13:12

Based on his preceding comment concerning our need to “awake out of sleep,” Paul uses a set of metaphors “night” and “day” to explain that. He says “the night is far spent.” The literal night equates to the darkness of the world and its spiritual corruption; a world lacking order and which is in chaos. This is seen, for example, when Jesus was confronted at night at Gethsemane –

“When I was with you daily in the temple, you did not try to seize Me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.” Luke 22:53

This time of spiritual darkness is still in the world. Victory is found in Jesus, but it is not yet fully realized. That will only occur when He returns. For now, and for an indeterminate length of time, “the day is at hand.” The rapture of the church and what comes after that has been imminent from the start of the church age. There is no time that a believer could rightly say, “the Lord won’t come back today.” Therefore, that day is always at hand. And because it is, Paul gives us a stern admonition – “Therefore, let us cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light.”

“Therefore” asks us to consider what has been said and then to act on it. “Let us cast off the works of darkness” implores us to live in spiritual light and in holiness. Time and again, the Bible refers to the light in this way. John speaks of the light contrasting the darkness in the first chapter of his gospel – “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” (John 1:4, 5)

In order to “cast off darkness” one must be clothed with light. Darkness cannot overcome itself. Only when found clothed in light will the darkness flee away. This is why Paul next says to “put on the armor of light.” In order to do this, one must move from the devil to Christ; from the misdeed of fallen Adam to the triumph of Jesus. He is our armor from the darkness which is found in the fallen world and the One who can protect us from being cast into “outer darkness” when our days are complete.

Once one has put on Christ, they need to continue in Christ actively through prayer, studying His word, fellowshipping with others, etc. By doing this, we won’t be unfruitful, nor will we be pulled back into the spiritually corrupt world around us.

Life application: The Bible uses many metaphors to help us understand spiritual truths. As your read the Bible, take time to think through these things – elements, types of animals, types of grain and other foods (milk and honey for example), light and darkness, etc. God uses things we understand in the natural world to show us these spiritual truths.

Heavenly Father, thank You for another beautiful day. I look forward to walking in Your presence, talking to You, enjoying the sights and sounds as they come my way. As the day unfolds, please keep reminding me of our close and personal relationship as I ponder the work of Jesus and how He has reconciled me to You. I want to thank You for all You do for me! You are great, O God. Amen. 

Romans 13:11


Friday, 6 December 2013

And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. Romans 13:11

“And do this” refers to the thoughts of the previous verses, culminating in the commandment to love one another. It is our obligation and it is all the more necessary because of “knowing the time…” He states this and takes it as an axiom that believers should in fact be aware of the time in which we live. And what is that time? It is the indeterminate span known as the church age.

This dispensation began at the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost in Acts 2 and it will end suddenly and without prior notice at some point in the future. Christ will return at the rapture for His people in “the twinkling of an eye.” Because we don’t know when it will happen, nor will we have time to prepare when it comes, Paul says “that now it is high time to awake out of our sleep.” Being awake implies being alert and ready. Being asleep implies being not ready.

Taking this and tying it back to the previous verses, Paul is telling us to always and at all times have a loving attitude (how difficult that can be!). The imminence of the return of Christ should direct our every thought and action. Who would want to be found living in disobedience to the Lord’s directive at His coming? If we look at it from this perspective, then we should endeavor to always live in a manner worthy of our high calling.

Though it has been 2000 years, and many will dismiss the Christian religion simply because things have continued unchanged for so long, to the Lord a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day. Time is of no consideration from His eternal perspective. He has a plan and that plan is being worked out in a meticulous manner. When it is complete, there will be no delay. Therefore, as we live within this stream of time, we should be ever-expectant of His return “for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.”

Every believer since that first day of the church age has been added as a “living stone” to that Temple which He is building. When the final stone calls out in belief, there will be no need for more stones. No architect continues to order materials for a building which has enough for its completion. And so each new person who believes brings us nearer than when every other believer first called out in faith.

Life application: There will be a moment when the building is complete. When that time comes, Christ will return for His church. Let us not be found filled with bitterness and hatred. Instead, we need to live our life in love, thus fulfilling the law we have been given. Christ could come at any moment; let us remain awake and alert.

Lord Jesus, the thought of Your return gives me a continual reminder that I need to be about Your business. Help me to be the loving Christian, the faithful witness, and the helpful, cheerful person that You would have me to be. I don’t want to be found sleeping or backslidden when You come. Help me in this and keep my feet on the right path until that great Day. Amen.  

Romans 13:10


Thursday, 5 December 2013

Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. Romans 13:10

The thoughts of loving another and harming another are contradictory. Where there is love, there will be no harm. In the previous verse, Paul spoke of the commandments mentioned in the second half of the Ten Commandments. These are directed in general towards other humans, now collectively called “a neighbor.”

Each of these commandments finds its fulfillment in love. After stating those written commandments, he finished with, “and if there is any other commandment.” This opens up the statement to any prescriptive directive in Scripture. We know this because the Greek includes no definite article before “law.” Love then is the fulfillment of all divine law. As The People’s New Testament states, “God requires nothing which is not comprehended in this word.”

As “God is love” any law which stems from God will be revealed in love. One could argue against this by going back to the Old Testament and citing one of numerous laws which calls for the stoning of someone, a homosexual for example (See Leviticus 20:13). The argument could be that this is an unloving mandate of God. Incorrect.

1) The act violates what is determined “good” by God from the beginning of creation. A perversion of something good cannot be called “good.”

2) For the soundness of His covenant people at large, God has forbidden acts contrary to what He has ordained in creation to keep them healthy, holy, and free from sin. Such laws are actually loving directives by God for the general good of His people.

3) The law was given that sin might become “exceedingly sinful” (Romans 7:13) and therefore it acts as a tutor to lead us to Christ (Galatians 3:24). By seeing our need for freedom from this sin, and then calling on Jesus for forgiveness of that sin, the greatest demonstration of all love is witnessed; the giving of God’s own Son for the sinful people of the world.

What we arrogantly (or ignorantly) claim as unloving in God is, in fat, directed towards the highest demonstration of love. Nothing God demands or determines can be unloving. By our own perverse choices, we bring wrath upon ourselves because we are acting in a nature contrary to what the all-loving Creator has determined for us. It is our actions, not God’s requirements, which are unloving. He is the Creator, we are the created.

Life application: Shall we charge the Almighty with wrongdoing? May it never be so! God requires nothing of us which is not understood and obtainable in the concept of love. However, we must view all things from His perspective, not our own.

Heavenly Father, when I see a commandment in Your word which seems harsh, help me to perceive that law from Your perspective, not mine. I know that nothing You require will be expected of us that is not grounded in love, for You are love. So open my eyes Lord to see all things apart from my personal emotions or misguided notions. Amen.