St. John's & Zion Lutheran Churches

It’s Time

Sermon on Romans 13:11-14

Text: And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.

Part of many parents’ morning routine is getting their children awake and ready for school. Often their instructions are in the form of reminders, preceded with the words: “It’s time.” “It’s time to get up.” “It’s time to get dressed.” “It’s time to hurry.” “It’s time to go.” By adding the words “It’s time,” we hope that they realize that there is no time for dawdling. Get to the business at hand. Today, as we begin a new church year, the apostle Paul comes to us with the same sort of reminder. Listen to our loving God as he tells us IT’S TIME. 1. It’s Time To Get Up. 2. It’s Time To Get Dressed. 3. It’s Time To Look Forward To A New Day.

The letter to the Roman Christians was penned by the Apostle Paul, though he had never been to Rome, as he had been to many of cities that received his epistles. Since the believers there had not enjoyed the benefit of apostolic instruction, Paul, in this letter, presents a thorough doctrinal study, focusing specifically on the truth that we are saved by faith, apart from the law. That covers the first eight chapters of the book. In the second half of the book, Paul teaches them how to put that faith into action, how to act like a Christian.

Paul had just finished talking about walking in love and walking in the light. Then, to show the urgency of it, Paul was inspired to write the verses under our consideration this morning. For that reason, Paul writes, “Do this (walk in the light), understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber.” (Verse 11) Then he adds, “The night is nearly over; the day is almost here.” (Verse 12) Basically, Paul is telling the Roman Christians of the day and us today to “Wake up!” It’s time to wake up.

What does Paul mean when he talks us about waking from our slumber? The slumber that Paul is speaking of is when we get lulled into the sleep of sin. We don’t feel that what we are doing is really all that bad, especially when you compare it to what everyone else is doing. To that sort of thinking, Paul says, “Wake up!”. ‘Don’t compare your life to others. Compare your life to God’s law. See how you fit according to that!’

Now, very few people like to be told to wake up. Few appreciate their parents’ voices telling them to wake up. Not many of us are happy to hear the alarm going off. But, they are necessary for us, so that we can get up and do what we’re supposed to do. The same is true for keeping the law. There is not one person who likes to hear what they are doing is wrong. After a while that sin becomes comfortable, like a nice warm bed on a cold winter’s night. For that reason, God uses the law and tells us ‘It’s time! Time to wake up!’

Usually attached to the parent’s call of “Time to wake up!” is “Time to get dressed!”. You have to take off your night clothes and put on apparel appropriate for the day. God also tells us to take off something and put on something else. In verse 12 we read, “Let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” ‘Take off the deeds of darkness. Take off those night clothes in which you have been sleeping.’ Paul gives us a few examples in verse 13, “Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy.”

Paul, first of all, mentions “orgies and drunkenness.” God has given us many blessings on this earth. There’s absolutely nothing wrong in enjoying them with someone else. But, what’s being talked about here is more than just enjoyment. It’s self-indulgence. Mankind, by nature, craves excesses, excesses in goods, food, drink, and so forth. Paul goes on to mention “sexual immorality and debauchery.” Unbridled sexual indulgence was common in Paul’s day. It was celebrated in pagan temples. Is today any better? The goddess of sex, if you will, is honored and sought after in many places in our society. Temptations to sin against the Sixth Commandment bombard us on every side. It comes to us in books, movies, TV, magazines and Internet. Its influence is seen everywhere. This is a very real danger for us, because our sinful nature looks for ways to gratify itself.

Paul, also, mentions, “dissension and jealousy.” Often the two pairs mentioned before will lead to this pair. Enjoying the earthly lusts to the full brings about destruction, such as divided households, broken marriages, angry words and the like.

There might be some who like to think that they’re immune to these temptations. To them I would quote the apostle Paul’s words to the Corinthians in his first epistle, “if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (1 Corinthians 10:12) Scriptures, as well as the pages of history, are full of examples of people who became infected by the very vices and excesses that Paul is talking about here. Paul urges us to put off the deeds of darkness. Get rid of them!

Then he tells us, ‘It’s time to get dressed!’. In verse 14 we read, “Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” We are to “Clothe [ourselves] with the Lord Jesus Christ.” Actually you and I have already been clothed with Christ when we were baptized. At the time you and I were brought to faith, our sin-stained robes were taken from us and we were given Christ’s robe of righteousness and holiness in its place. At that time you received all of the benefits of Christ’s work. His perfect life was credited to your account. The forgiveness of sins which Jesus won on the cross was given to you. All that Jesus, in his saving work, accomplished was given to you in baptism.

But, baptism is not some sort of magical formula that was once performed and now forgotten. Having been clothed with Christ, we lead a daily life of sanctification, in which we show our love and thankfulness for all that he has done for us. So now, instead of our goal in life being self-gratification, we find our purpose in life to be a life of serving Christ. We want to be clothed in him. So, dear Christians, as the night advances and the day is almost here, it’s time to wake up and it’s time to get dressed!

When the morning comes, we welcome it with eager anticipation. We know that plans we have for that day, but we also know that there will be some surprises along the way. As we live for Christ, we also look forward to a new day, the day we will be with our Lord forever. Paul writes in verse 11, “Our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.” The time factor is an urgent consideration for the Christian. Our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. Each and every day brings us closer. Even though 2,000 years have passed since Paul wrote these words, we should not consider the Last Day to be far off and distant. Indeed, for the individual, the day of salvation can coincide with the day of his death, which can happen at any time.

There are some days that we really don’t look forward to, at all. There’s an important task for us to do or an appointment we’d rather not go to. Such is not the case with the day of our salvation. Then we will be completely and totally free. Free from all pain and sorrow, care and concern. Free from all of life that makes our time here on this earth so hard. Free to serve our God in the way that he deserves to be served, without the taint of sin. That is why, as Christians, we do not need to fear the end of time, whether it be when God calls us from this earth through death or the end of the world comes. As the hours, as the minutes tick away, bringing us that much closer to the day of salvation, we wait with eager anticipation. It’s time to look forward to the new day.

Often, it seems as though people need to be reminded a number of times before they get the message. Parents repeat the same things every morning. We, too, need the reminders that Paul gives to us, as he tells us, ‘It’s time, people.’ We realize that we haven’t always put off the deeds of darkness. God help us realize the importance and urgency in doing so. We know that he will forgive us and we pray for his help to live for him. As we read his Holy Word, he lovingly reminds us, ‘It’s time. It’s time to wake up. It’s time to get dressed. It’s time to look forward to the new day.’ Amen.