Week 1, Day 1

Day 1: Romans 13:11-14

Besides this, since you know the time, it is already the hour for you to wake up from sleep, because now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is nearly over, and the day is near; so let us discard the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk with decency, as in the daytime: not in carousing and drunkenness; not in sexual impurity and promiscuity; not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to gratify its desires.

1. Paul is instructing the Roman Christians on dedication to Christ in a hostile culture. The situation was not terribly dissimilar to ours today: the cultural values of the time flew in the face of the life proclaimed by Christ. As Peter wrote in his first Epistle: they are surprised you do not join them in the same flood of wild living, and so they slander you. (1 Pt 4:4) Paul’s concern leading up to these verses is that the Christians do not become worthy of this slander, but that they in every way possible live inoffensively and obediently in every way that does not clearly identify them as believers in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If the Christians in Rome are to be persecuted (as they were), it should be for the sake of the Gospel and for nothing else.

2. This is the very image of Christ. He was rejected, persecuted, and ultimately executed for nothing except his divine mission. Jesus appears in the world, then and now, as an unanswerable critique of every person and every culture that he meets. He challenges all views of the world that he is not at the center of in the best possible way: by revealing that they fail, not by his standards, but by their own. Jesus images and anticipates a glorious world in which everything is in the light, not because everyone is being controlled, but because everything has been made perfect.

3. We are to live open and public lives- lives of decency, as in the daytime. Our armor is of light– it reveals, it does not conceal. Our behavior is to be such that we have no shame before our friends and neighbors, be they believers in Jesus or not. We are to adhere to moral law, natural law, and legal law inasmuch as it does not contradict the law of Love.
We are to put on Christ: he makes us more than we are, not less. The caricature of the Christian life is often that of the hermetic monk- he eats nothing, speaks nothing, and does nothing. This is the not the image in Scripture. The public life of believers in Jesus are bigger, not smaller. We do more- more good!- not less. This will stand as the most powerful possible critique of culturally acceptable evil.

4. Making no provision for the flesh is a disciplined practice in our daily lives. We are not yet in that gloriously restored world, but we are to live as signposts toward it. Like the ancient Israelite priests, who stood separated from death and disfigurement so that they might bear witness to God’s ultimate purpose of a perfect world, we are to labor against the temptations brought by our fallen natures so that we might bear witness to the perfect world Christ will one day bring from Heaven to Earth. The night is nearly over, the day is at hand. Our salvation is at hand. We will soon awake from sleep into a world where God has made all things new.