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August 25, 2022

Christ’s Return Matters: What Christians Should Be Doing Now

Have you ever had a dream so real, that it made you question things in real life? 

I know some people say that they don’t dream but that happens to me every now and then. I also know there have been times when I’ve woken up and been in trouble with my wife because of something “dream Adam” said. There is actually an ongoing debate in my house about something that was allegedly said after the birth of our first daughter. My wife would have you believe that it was the middle of the night and Hannah was crying and she rolled over and sweetly asked if I could go rock the baby, to which I replied with, “You got this!”

Which, even if that’s true, at least it’s encouraging, right!? But I’m sticking with the facts and the truth is I have no memory of this event and believe that one should not be held liable for something muttered while sleeping! Needless to say, the next night I was sure to take a turn rocking the baby and was glad to do it! 

Today’s message is not on dreams, but rather on how we can be people who practice Daylight Living. People who are fully awake and living in light of the gospel. 

As we look at Romans 13 today it’ll be helpful to remember the structure of the book as we launch out. In the first 11 chapters, Paul spends his energy explaining the gospel fully. He unpacks the doctrines of faith and then he moves, in chapter 12, to an application of those truths. So, gospel explanation, then Gospel application! What we’re looking at today is crucial for living out our faith!  

Here is what the Word of God says …  

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. 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. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. 

Romans 13:11-4

Wake Up

The first thing I want you to see today as it relates to Daylight Living is that we’ve got to WAKE UP! 

Now at my house, the going to bed process is definitely more difficult than the waking up part. If you’ve got young kids at home maybe that’s true for you too. 

But watching how they each wake up is interesting too. We’ve got one who wants to wake up and make her bed, then goes and hugs everyone then gets dressed for the day. Then we’ve got one that doesn’t say a word, just wakes up, glares at everyone, tries to turn off all the lights, and basically starts out grumpy daily. And still, we’ve got another that wakes up at 6 a.m. like clockwork crying, but she’s a baby so we’ll let that slide! 

But this isn’t about waking up physically. He’s talking about SPIRITUAL SLUMBER! Notice that verse 11 specifically says, “wake up from your slumber”!

What is spiritual slumber? 

From the context of this passage, we can conclude it is a failure to love one another. That’s what the first words of verse 11 are referring to when Paul says, “Do this.” Because in the preceding verses he says, we ought to be loving one another. 

What does it look like, practically? 

Spiritual Slumber looks like apathy. 

  • Apathy toward mission. Why would I need to live like a missionary?
  • Apathy toward community. Why is it important that I connect with others, share my life with others, and that I gather routinely and consistently for worship, Bible study, and fellowship?
  • Apathy toward discipleship. Why take the time to study God’s Word, devote myself to prayer, and seek to grow spiritually? 

Maybe those questions are the secret questions that you think in your heart. Maybe today, God’s Word to you is simply: WAKE UP! 

What Paul writes here is a moral imperative: Wake Up. 

For far too long, the church has been ineffective because we’ve been lulled into sleep. Don’t let that be the case, let’s wake up! 

How? How can we wake up? 

By Considering Our Salvation

When Paul writes in verse 11 “for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.” He’s talking about the future tense of our salvation. The future hope of Glory. 

The Bible presents salvation in a rich way that includes three tenses to it. Let me explain. 

  1. We have been saved from the penalty of sin. Past tense. We can’t think about salvation without thinking about what Jesus accomplished on the cross. 2,000 years ago, Jesus paid the price for sin. Now the penalty of sin has been paid for. Past tense. 
  2. We are being saved from the power of sin. Present tense. A day-by-day reality because of conversion. Now if you’ve never surrendered your life to Jesus and committed to following him with faith and repentance, then what Jesus accomplished on the cross has not been applied to you! But if you are a Christ follower, then that means, right now — in this moment — sin has no power over you! Because you’re in Christ, you’re no longer a slave to sin, instead, you’ve been given a life of victory in the here and now! Present tense. 
  3. We will be saved from the very presence of sin.  Future tense. This is our future hope. It’s the idea of God finishing his work in us and us being united to him in Glory. Paul’s not talking about conversion, he’s talking about Glorification. Future tense. 

Now the reason this is so important for us, as it relates to Waking Up, is because in between conversion and glorification is something called “sanctification.” And it’s what is supposed to be happening in us right now! 

Are you being sanctified? Are you growing spiritually? Are you being challenged, convicted, and transformed by God so that you look more and more like Jesus every day? 

We must wake up to this reality. 

The second way we wake up, according to Paul is by … 

By Remembering Jesus’ Return

Verse 11 says, “Do this, understanding the present time” and then verse 12 says, “The night is nearly over, the day is almost here.” Paul is writing here about the RETURN OF CHRIST! 

The truth that Christ is coming again is a major theme of the New Testament. 

  • Philippians 4:5: “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.”
  • James 5:8: “You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.
  • 1 Peter 4:7: “The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray.”

To lose sight of this truth is to be lulled to sleep spiritually! We’ve got to be people who understand the times and are mindful of Christ’s return. 

Think about the grand story of scripture: 66 books with one grand story: Creation/Fall/Promise/Incarnation/Death/Resurrection/Ascension/Return

We can’t stop short here. We spend a great deal of energy thinking and studying the first part of the story, but it’s the final piece that ought to infuse our lives with urgency! We must live each day in the light of His return, with urgency. 

Now if we press on through the scriptures, here’s what we’ll see. In addition to waking up, we’re called to CLEAN UP! 

Look again at verse 12: “So let us put aside the deeds of darkness.” 

Paul is calling for us to put aside, that is clean up, our lives! So that, by living differently, we’ll honor God with our lives. 

It’s a sad reality that the people who seem to talk the most about the return of Christ, seem too often to be characterized by charts and graphs, timelines, visions, and bad apocalyptic movies. Rather than, living life FOR CHRIST, WITH URGENCY, IN A HOLY WAY. 

Now I’m not saying that theories of eschatology are bad or harmful. We ought to think deeply on this subject. But if you think having charts and graphs means you are ready for Christ to return then you’re gravely mistaken. 

You could wallpaper your whole house with details of prophecy, but if you don’t live a holy life then you’ve completely missed it! 

  • 1 John 3:3 says, “All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.” 
  • 2 Peter 3:14 says, “So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.”

Being ready for Christ’s return is more about how we live now than it is trying to figure out when he’s coming! So, Clean Up! 

Notice how in the scripture Paul paints a contrasting image between day and night, darkness and light. 

The need to come out of the darkness and into the light behaviorally is what every believer must do in light of the imminent Day of the Lord. Night conceals a host of sins, but the day is coming when all will be brought into the light. 

We cannot claim to be a part of Christ and then walk in darkness. And so Paul says, live in the light and participate in the deeds of darkness no longer! Or in other words, let’s practice DAYLIGHT LIVING. 

Daylight living, as Paul describes it, means laying aside the old sinful patterns, the deeds of darkness that our sinful flesh tempts us to do.

Paul goes even further in Ephesians 5:7-11 when he uses this same darkness versus light metaphor. Paul bluntly tells the Ephesians that they, and we, should do more than avoid dark deeds; we are to expose them and bring them to light. In other words, it’s time to clean up our lives with holy living. 

So, what do you need to do today, in order to clean up your mind? To clean up your thoughts? To clean up your relationships? To clean up your words?

Verse 13 includes a list of activities that are just as common today as they were in Paul’s day. The temptation to live that is focused on self, on pleasure, and on immorality has always been there and will remain until Jesus comes. 

But notice what makes the list. Along with detestable practices such as drunkenness, sexual immorality, and debauchery, we find dissension and jealousy.

Dissension — other English translations render the word “quarreling.” The Greek word means strife. 

Do you have strife in your life? 
Are you quarrelsome? 
Do you allow conflict to build in such a way that is destructive? 

There is something downright sinful to engaging in conflict simply because our “needs” aren’t met, are preferences aren’t being prioritized, or our position is not being valued.  

When I looked up the word for dissension in my Greek lexicon here’s what it had to say. This word is frequently described as verbal, for example, always saying bad things about one another or never having a good word to say to one another. 

And that’s what Paul says is on par with debauchery! Quarreling. Strife. Jealousy. 

It’s time we take a long look in the mirror of scripture and are honest about our shortcomings. No more rationalizing away our sin. To live a holy life means we put away our strife and our jealousy. It means we clean up our lives! 

What Paul names as out of bounds in this verse is expanded in the “works of the flesh” listed in Galatians 5:19-20.

This leads us to the final aspect of daylight living that we need to consider today.

Dress Up!

We must dress appropriately. If we’re going to walk in the daylight, we’ve got to dress appropriately.

I know some of you just started another semester of college, and it might be tempting to wear pajamas to class. Don’t do it. Pro-tip: Put on the daytime clothes! 

Now, this is not talking about our actual clothes. So let’s look again at verse 12. 

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.

If we’re going to practice daylight living, then we must never forget that we were born for battle! There is a spiritual battle raging around us. There is a real enemy who wants to destroy you, destroy your family, destroy this church, and destroy our witness for King Jesus. 

This becomes ever increasingly important as we begin to understand the truth of Christ’s return. 

We need the armor of God now more than ever. 

You can read about the armor of God in great detail in Ephesians 6. 

  • Are you married? You better put on the armor of God in order to fight for that marriage. 
  • Are you a parent? You better put on the armor of God to fight for those children. 
  • Are you a grandparent? Armor up for your grandkids! 
  • Are you a student? Put on the armor as you go to class! As you go to practice! 
  • Are you an employee? Put on that armor for your work! 

Let me ask you this: What can you do this week to practically remember this truth? Maybe you put a note in your closet, tape it to the hanger, that says, armor up! 

That may be silly, but we must do whatever it takes to not be lulled to sleep. There is a battle! Dress appropriately! Put on your armor! 

“Put on” is a metaphor drawing on the dressing room or, we could say, the locker room: as an athlete puts on pads or a jersey, believers “put on the whole armor of God.”

In high school, I was always paranoid that I would forget my helmet and my cleats! Why? Because If I arrived at the stadium and didn’t have my helmet, they wouldn’t let me play! 

The stakes are much higher spiritually. You’ve got to be ready to do spiritual battle because the kingdom of darkness does not give up ground without a fight. And we’re called to be on the front lines of this battle, fighting so that men and women, boy and girls, will know that there is life in Jesus! We’re called to fight for the marriage that’s on the rocks! We’re called to fight for the one trapped in addiction. We’re called to fight for the hearts of the prodigal. We’re called to fight for the people trapped in shame and hopelessness! 

Now, look at verse 14. “Clothed with Christ” — may the things that are true of Jesus (compassion, love, truth, wisdom, hope) may these things be true of your life. 

The whole reason we’re doing 27 in 22 is so that the Word of God would shape us, form us, challenge us, and transform us to LOOK LIKE CHRIST! 

Wake up. Clean up. Dress up. 

To do this means that we must take captive every thought. The final part of verse 14 says, “do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.”

Although many of you have come to Christ and placed your life in his, you know all too well that the pull of your natural desires remains strong. Power, possessions, and pleasure. They can still have a stronghold in our lives, even as a Christ follower. And so, Paul says do not think about these things, or “make no provision for” as other translations say it. But instead, let your heart and mind be captured up and ruled by Jesus Christ. If you do this, you won’t fall asleep, you won’t become dirty, and you won’t be dressed inappropriately! 

The reason we live this out is so that we would be a walking picture of Jesus to a watching world.

Daylight Living means we live a life of practical holiness in order to display our positional righteousness in Christ. 

Think about a puzzle. It’s easy to hear a sermon on a particular aspect of Christian conduct and think that it is THE MAIN OBJECTIVE. For example: What is life about? Being holy! Being kind. Being patient. Being self-controlled. Living a decent Life. Guys those are like individual puzzle pieces. They’re important but all those things come together so that a greater picture is formed. In our lives, we practice holiness in a number of different practical ways, so that a watching world: sees Christ! They don’t need to see me. They need to see HIM! 

Consider this: if you are honest, would you say you’ve been living in a state of spiritual slumber? Today is God calling you to Wake up? If Christ’s return were to happen today, is there any lifestyle, thought, or activity that you would be ashamed to have brought into his light? Is God calling you to Clean up? 

Is there a situation that you need to in your life, where the armor of God is needed? Are you aware of the spiritual battle before you? Are you, each day, clothing yourself with the armor of God? Are you putting on Christ each day? Is God calling you to Dress up? 

The Gospel is good news, because today, you’re invited to come to Jesus, turn from sin, and make Jesus your Lord and Savior. If you’re a Christ follower who feels trapped in the stronghold of sin, remember that same gospel has the power to give you victory today. Let’s be people who practice Daylight Living.

This article is adapted from a sermon entitled, “Daylight Living,” by Adam Brock.

Written by Adam Brock

Adam serves as Teaching Pastor in the North Venue. His prayer for Trinity is that we would always be a place that God uses to rescue people and transform lives.

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