DISCHARGING YOUR CHRISTIAN DUTY
In the last few verses of Romans 13, Paul takes the place of a commanding officer. He calls the true believer to remember his duty before the Lord. Every redeemed individual has a duty! A duty, which I am ashamed to say, we are not discharging very well! We are AWOL and have become deserters from the battle. I would just like to remind you that when we got saved, we enlisted in the greatest battle that has ever been waged, and that battle is still raging! There are a few of the troops who have stayed in the trenches, the rest have wandered off to do their own thing. This passage is a call for God’s children to get back in the thick of the battle!
I. V. 11 WE HAVE A DUTY SO WAKE UP!
A. We Have A Duty To Recognize The Time – The word “time” refers to a “season of time”. This whole verse has to do with the return of the Lord Jesus Christ for His people. The idea here is that the believer is to keep his eyes on the changing world around him and understand that the coming of the Lord is near. Sadly, many believers cruise lazily through life not even considering the fact that Jesus might return at any moment. Yet, all one has to do is cross-reference the daily news with the Word of God to see that His coming is near. Therefore, the advice Jesus gave in Matthew is still good advice for us today, Matt. 24:42-44.
Paul tells us that our salvation is nearer than when we believed. As you know, there are three stages of salvation. We are saved, we are being saved and we will be saved. At the moment of conversion, we were saved from the penalty of sin. We are being saved daily from the power of sin. We will be saved eventually from the presence of sin. Our salvation is fully accomplished this evening, but it is worked out daily in our lives. One day, when Jesus returns for His people, we will experience the complete effects of our salvation. What Paul means is that every day we pitch our tent one step closer to glory! He merely wants to remind us that Jesus is nearer today than He was yesterday. Are you living your life in the anticipation of His soon return?
B. We Have A Duty To Redeem The Time – Paul tells us that the time for slumber has long since passed. The words “high time” mean that a specific hour has arrived. Too many of the people of God are sleeping on the job today. Living their lives as they please without any thought for the will of God, the plight of the lost or the return of the Lord Jesus Christ!
Sleep is defined as, “A state of inactivity, with a loss of consciousness, and a decrease in responsiveness to events taking place.” In other words, the sleeping person is out of touch with the events that surround him while he sleeps. While it may be fine to doze through that ball game or to get a good night’s sleep, there is no excuse for being asleep to the things of God! However, many people in the church are in a state of inactivity when it comes to the things of God. This should not be! May the Lord find us watching when He comes! May He find us awake when He returns! (Note: we need to wake up and be sensitive to the needs that surround us! Now is not the time to be drowsy and unaware of what is going on. Now is a time for the church to be alert and active, Eph. 5:16; Col. 4:5!)
(Note: Paul is telling us that the time to sleep has well passed. Now it is time to become active in the business of the Lord. His words remind us that there is an urgency to the things of God. Every day, people are dying without the Lord and going to Hell. Every day the forces of evil are growing stronger and working harder in the world. There is a tremendous need for believers everywhere to wake up from their slumber to recognize the seriousness and the lateness of the hour and to get busy serving the Lord with all of their might. If you are planning to tell your neighbors about Jesus, the time is now! If you are going to tell your family about Jesus the time is now. If you are going to go to work for the Lord the time is now! May we recognize the crisis of the hour and dedicate ourselves to being all God wants us to be in these days. (Note: Another thought that is contained in this verse is that the reign of darkness on this earth is growing ever nearer its destined end. Since Satan knows that his time is short, Rev. 12:12, he is pulling out all the stops in our day. Very soon, the darkness of sin that has fallen over this world like a veil will be lifted and the glorious dawn of a new day will come. A day when Jesus Himself will rule and reign in righteousness and glory.)
II. V. 12 WE HAVE A DUTY SO DRESS UP!
A. We Have A Duty To Discard The Garments Of The Night – Paul’s vivid imagery is that of a man waking up in the morning and throwing off all that is associated with the night. He throws off the bedclothes. The removes his nightwear and he gets dressed for the day. Far too many believers are still walking around dressed in the clothing of darkness! That is, their attitudes and actions are the same as those of the lost people around them! When we are saved, we became “new creatures”, literally, “a new creation”, 2 Cor. 5:17. At that instant of time, we were forever changed by the power of God and we are supposed to be different than we used to be, different from the world around us! (Ill. When Lazarus came out of that tomb, having been raised from the dead, what did Jesus say? “Loose him and let him go!”, John 11:44. Why? Because he was a living man and a living man had no use for grave clothes!) (Note: As redeemed children of the Lord, why do we want to wear the grave clothes of sin?
Why do we want to dress like the dead? Why do we want to talk like the dead? Why do we want to participate in the activities of the dead men around us? We shouldn’t, but we do! May God help us to throw off the garments of the night! By the way, the words “cast off” have the idea of “throwing something off once and for all.” A man doesn’t get out of bed, get dressed and then climb back under the covers! He throws them off and gets up to stay up all day long! Paul reminds us that the “night is far spent”, that is, the time for slumber has passed! The time of the works of darkness is over! A new day has dawned in our hearts. We are called upon to walk in the day!) (Note: “Cast off” is in the middle voice. It means that you are to do it yourself! No one can cast off the works of darkness from your life but you!)
B. We Have A Duty To Desire The Garments Of The Light – Just as we are commanded to “cast off” some things, we are also commanded to “put on” others. This also speaks of a once for all putting on! Just as a person does not get dressed in the morning only to immediately get ready for bed again, so the believer is to make a permanent break with the works of darkness and is to dress up in the things of the Lord to walk for Him as long as it is day!
The idea of this verse is of a man rising from sleep, throwing off the bed covers and his nightclothes and getting himself dressed for the day. Since Paul uses the word “armor”, we could say that he is speaking of a new recruit who shows up for duty in the military. Once there, he is stripped of his civilian clothes and is dressed up in the uniform of the army. It is a change that will last for as long as he serves.
For us, the imagery is perfect. It speaks of the believer forever laying aside the ways of the old life and dressing up once for all in the ways of the new life in Jesus. This is an idea that is echoed several times in the epistles of Paul, Col. 3:1-17; Eph. 6:10-18; Gal. 5:16-26.
God’s idea of the Christian life is one of total commitment and dedication. However, most Christians see the Christian life as one of the compromises. They honor God over here while doing as they please over here. This cannot be! God’s command is for our total commitment, once for all! Have you done that? Are you even willing?
III. V. 13-14 WE HAVE A DUTY SO LINE UP!
(Ill. Paul calls the soldiers of the cross to get in line and march forward for the glory of God.)
A. We Have A Duty To Walk In Honesty – The phrase “walk honestly” means to “behave properly.” That is, we are to live an outward life that is consistent with who we say we are on the inside. There should be no pretense in our lives. If we say we are saved, we should live as though we are saved. We are to be sure that our practice matches our profession. With the new birth comes the desire to live a life that is pleasing to the Lord. A life that is honest. A life that is a living sacrifice to His glory in the world.) Does your walk match your talk? Paul uses the phrase “as in the day”. That is, there should be nothing hidden about our lives. We should be like an open book to all who look at us and see how we live. Nothing hypocritical, nothing hidden, just a life that is open, honest and pleasing to the Lord. Does that describe the life you are living?
B. We Have A Duty To Walk In Holiness – After telling how we should live, Paul turns his attention to how we should not live. He mentions six sins of the flesh that were no doubt prevalent in Paul’s day. The six sins are also prevalent in our day as well! Let’s look at them for just a moment.
1. Rioting – Refers to wild parties, sexual orgies, brawling, etc.
2. Drunkenness – Refers to habitual and intentional intoxication. Can speak of alcohol or drug abuse. It is interesting to note that the New Testament usually speaks of drunkenness and rioting together, Rom.13:13; Gal. 5:21; 1 Pet. 4:3.
3. Chambering – This word comes from a word that means “to go to bed with someone,” It refers to sexual activities that are engaged in outside of the marriage relationship. It is a work of the flesh and it is a sin! Whether it be fornication, which is any sexual activity before marriage, or adultery, which is any sexual activity after marriage with someone who is not your spouse, it is a sin! It doesn’t matter whether or not society condones it, God does not! (Note: It is a sad statement of the condition of the “professing” church when a sexual activity that has been forbidden by God is as prevalent in the church as it is in the world!)
4. Wantonness – This word is tied to the previous word and it refers to unbridled, uninhibited sexual desire and activity. It speaks against the casual attitude society holds concerning sex, where every form of sexual expression is indulged in and encouraged.
5. Strife – This word refers to a mindset that seeks its own way first and foremost without regard for the cost to others. It speaks of those people who are constantly bickering, engage in competitive antagonism and petty disagreements. It speaks of people who are just plain mean. Always looking for a fight. Walking around with an attitude and a chip on their shoulder. The world, and sadly the church is filled with this kind of people
6. Envy – refers to a spirit of “jealousy”. This is an attitude of “me first and everyone else after.” It is an attitude of the heart that seeks everything self wants without concern for the impact upon the lives of others. (Note: I find it interesting that the Holy Spirit placed envy and strife right up there alongside sexual immorality and drunkenness. Don’t you? God doesn’t make the same distinctions about sin that we do! You see, there are people in this room who would never think of committing adultery or getting drunk, but you don’t give a second thought to talking about someone behind their back! You would never use illicit drugs, but you don’t think twice about taking your duty to the church and the Lord for granted! We need a revival of devotion to the things of the Lord! Are any of these things active in your life today? If so, there is a remedy. It is called confession and repentance. 1 John 1:9!)
C. We Have A Duty To Walk In Humility – Paul tells us that while we are waiting in this world for the Lord to return, we should be careful that we act the right way. He tells us to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” Of course, we were placed into Jesus at the moment of our conversion, 1 Cor. 12:13. Here, he means that we are to clothe ourselves in all that Jesus is! We are to adopt His character as our character. We are to adopt His lifestyle as our lifestyle. He is truth, we are to walk in truth. He is light, we are to walk in the light. He is faithful, we are to be faithful. He is holy, we are to be holy. He loves the Father, we are to love the Father. He walked in total obedience to God, we are to walk in total obedience to God. The idea is encapsulated by John in 1 John 2:6. The idea here is a progression toward perfection! God is in the business of growing saints, Eph. 4:13. He is seeking to reproduce the life of His Son in each of us. Therefore, until He comes, let us determine that we will live Christlike in front of a hell-bound world.
We are told to make “no provision for the flesh.” The word “provision” means “forethought or planning”. The idea is this, we are to avoid any and all attempts by the mind to allow for the fulfillment of fleshly lusts.
We are guilty of assuming that sin begins with the devil. He thinks it up and he tempts us with it. Well, that occurs occasionally. More often, sin begins a little closer to home, James 1:14-15. Long as we live in his world; there will be within us a pull toward the things of the world. However, we do not have to fall into any temptation, 1 Cor. 10:31. We will sin, but we do not have to!
We will be tempted. but we do not have to yield, Rom. 6:14. When we allow our minds, hearts, wills, and emotions to rule our lives, they will make provision for the flesh, because they are still heavily influenced by, the flesh and by its wicked desires. However, when we allow the Spirit of God to control our thinking, we will not do what the flesh wants, but we will do what the Spirit wants Gal. 5:16. The whole idea here is that we are to control the mind, heart, will, and emotions so that they are under the power of the Spirit of God. We are to give no thought to the desires of the flesh. Sounds tough, but the Spirit of God is able to give us the victory in this warfare, 1 John 4:4, 1 Cor. 15:57.
How long has it been since you remembered that we have a duty as a believer? I would just remind you that we have a duty in three areas.
1. We Have A Duty To The Savior – This is a duty to live right and to serve Him faithfully until He calls you home. It is a duty to be all He redeemed you to be! Are you fulfilling that duty?
2. We Have A Duty To The Saints – This is a duty to carry out your responsibilities to the church. When you joined this church you took on the duty of supporting this work with your time, your tithes and your talents. You have a duty to watch after one another, to pray for one another, and to help one another along the way of life. For those of you who took positions as leaders and teachers in this church, your duty runs even deeper! You have a duty to be faithful. You have a duty to be prepared. You have a duty to be on time! You have a duty to set the right example of personal sacrifice and devotion to the Lord Jesus. Many are not fulfilling their duty.
3. We Have A Duty To Sinners – This is a duty to tell a lost and dying world about a crucified and risen Savior. There are people perishing all around this church. When was the last time you personally told someone about Jesus Christ? When was the last time you discharged your duty to the lost?