Romans 13:11-14 “Well, it’s about time!” You thought for sure that the kids would have been out of bed and ready to open presents at the crack of dawn but here they are rolling out of bed at nine. “Well, it’s about time!” You’ve finally gotten around to that home repair that your wife has been talking about. “Well, it’s about time!” They call your name at the restaurant, telling you that your table is ready. “Well, it’s about time!”
We all know what it meant by that phrase—that the time is right—in fact, it’s almost past time—time is as full as it can get leading up the event we’ve been waiting for.
That’s the sense of what we hear today from God’s Word. It’s about time that we wake up from our spiritual slumber. It’s about time that we make a radical break with sin and turn to Christ. It’s about time that we begin to live as the Christians that we say we are. Paul wrote:
You know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.
In the beginning, when God called the universe into being and made the lights of heaven to rule the day and night, he created time. This world had a beginning and it will have an end and the course of the world and the lives of men have been swept along by the march of time and the tides of history.
The manger and cross and empty tomb of our Lord Jesus Christ stand at the very center of human history. There is nothing that came before and nothing that has come after that does not draw its meaning and purpose from those places and events and that man. The Bible says that
When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
That is what Paul is talking about when he says that we know the time—that the saving purposes of God have been accomplished by Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit calls every person to wake up from their spiritual slumber and receive him in faith. And there is even more.
Since Jesus Christ has entered into human flesh and human history in the fullness of time, we know that, day by day, the end of time draws ever closer. Just as there was a particular moment when the world was created that marked the beginning of time, so will there be a particular moment when this world comes to end and time is no more.
That is the day of our Lord’s return in glory to judge the living and the dead. Though it lies sometime in the future, that day is a historical certainty as much as the days of our Lord’s birth, death, and resurrection. The march of time is carrying us ever closer to that day when the fullness of our salvation will be revealed.
When Paul says that salvation nearer now than when we first believed, he is not saying we are not saved right now! We are! We are forgiven and right in God’s sight and at peace with our heavenly Father because of Jesus Christ. But there is even more to come!
There is coming a day when death will be destroyed. There is coming a day when the enemies of Christ and his people will be punished. There is coming a day when there will be a new heaven and a new earth unbroken by sin. Each day the fullness of Christ’s redeeming work comes closer and the dawn of that new, eternal day draws near.
The Bible says that: The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So it is in history and so it is in our lives.
For thousands of years the people of God hoped in a simple promise: that God would raise up the seed of a woman who would destroy Satan. That is all they knew. It is what they believed. And it was enough to save them.
But the fullness of that promise was hidden in prophetic shadows. Periodically God would raise up a man who would reveal a bit more: that the Savior would be born of virgin—that he would be born in Bethlehem—that he would be crucified to bring peace. All of it in the future.
But in the fullness in time, on a dark night---God opened the heavens and caused a star to shine upon a manger and sent angels to proclaim the Good News that the day of salvation had dawned. The world can never return to the way it was before for the light of the world has been revealed.
As it was in the course of history so it is in men’s lives. All of us are born in the darkness of sin and unbelief. But God has graciously shined the light of his love into our hearts and we must not return to the dark shadows of spiritual slumber. The Bible says that we are to: cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.
There are all kinds of sad, unpleasant spectacles to be witnessed at Walmart but one of the worst is seeing a young woman, dressed in her pajamas, with house shoes on her feet, shopping in the middle of the day. Somehow, someway she never got the message to: get up, get dressed, and get to work.
But no matter how sad and unpleasant it is to see an adult out in public in the middle of the day dressed in their pajamas, it is much worse to see those who confess Christ as Lord and Savior continue to dress themselves in the works of darkness.
The day of salvation has dawned, the light of Jesus Christ has shined upon us, sin and death have been defeated but too often we continue to live in their dark shadows. We make room in our lives for some pet sin. We convince ourselves that this sin or that is no big deal. We tell ourselves God always forgives-- but we use that Good News as a cover for our sins.
Rather than the works of darkness, we are to put on the armor of God—clothed from head to toe with truth and righteousness and peace and salvation. This armor has been given to us by the Holy Spirit through the word of God--the sword of the Spirit, the tool that God uses to clothe us with the garments necessary for the spiritual battles we face as Christians. The Bible says that we are to:
walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy.
These sins may seem far removed from our lives, but there is no reason for this warning if it were not possible for us to be tempted.
We are still burdened with a sinful flesh. The world calls us to take part in its evil ways. The devil still prowls about as a lion, looking for those he can devour. And the sins that Paul lists are still prevalent and accepted and even mainstream in our culture today.
When it comes to quarreling and jealousy, a recent poll has come out that said two thirds of Americans don’t trust their fellow citizens. It seems like every other program on TV features a bunch of so-called housewives pulling each other’s hair. Political and civic discourse is more toxic than they have been in decades.
Countless people are addicted to drugs and alcohol and pornography and how can they not be when alcohol and sex are glorified and pharmaceutical companies advertise a pill for every ailment. Sexual immorality. Substance abuse. And simmering anger. This is the culture of our day. We Christians are to have no part of it.
The difference between the Christian’s life and that of a person who does not know Christ is to be as different as night and day. But where does that strength come from when we have fight against the devil, the world, and our flesh? It comes from Christ. The Bible says: Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
This is baptismal language and it speaks to our connection Christ and our identity as his people—that we are members of his body and our lives are to look like his life. This is the purpose of baptism and we can return to it again and again!
The Bible says about baptism that we have died with Christ and been raised with Christ so that we would walk in newness of life—that we are no longer slaves to sin—that we must not let sin reign in our mortal bodies so as to obey its passions.
In fact, the Bible says that we must make no provision for the flesh whatsoever.
That means that we avoid those places and people and circumstances where we know we are tempted to sin. It means that we keep up with our devotional and prayer life so that we stay close to God. It means that we worship regularly and receive Christ’s forgiveness in Word and Sacrament.
The message that we have from God today is this: It’s about time! It’s about time that we wake up from our spiritual slumber. It’s about time that we make a radical break with sin and turn to Christ. It’s about time that we begin to live as the Christians that we say we are. It’s about time. May God grant us his grace and the help of the Holy Spirit! Amen.