Broadcasting now. Watch Live.

Wake Up! - Part 1

Tom Pennington • Romans 13:11-14

  • 2020-08-02 AM
  • Romans
  • Sermons


But for today, Romans, chapter 13. I think you understand that we gather on the first day of the week as the church to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus our Lord from the dead. But this day also commemorates something else significant in human history; it was on the first day of the week that God merely spoke and out of nothing came everything. God created, on the first day of the week: time, space, matter, including this planet.

Genesis tells us that at first, this planet Earth was covered with water; it was without form, it was uninhabited by life of any kind, whether plant or animal or human; it was also completely shrouded in darkness. Later, on the first day of creation, God also created light. We're probably to understand that as the entire electromagnetic spectrum. He spoke it into being on the first day of the week, on the day that we call Sunday. It wasn't until day four of creation that He created the light holders that we call the sun and moon and stars, but light itself was created on the first day. And then God, on that first day, separated the light from the darkness by assigning to each its own part of the day, and the light, He called day; and the dark, He called night.

Now, we understand that light is crucial in sustaining life on this planet. In addition to establishing the cycle of day and night, work and rest, and activity and sleep, light is crucial to the growth of most living things. But God also created light; have you ever thought about this? God also created light in order to illustrate several profound spiritual truths; and every time we see light and darkness, God intends for us to remember these realities. Let me just briefly point them out to you.

First of all, light illustrates God's own perfect nature, 1 John 1:5, John the Apostle writes, "This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all." When Scripture compares God to light or pictures Him as light, or says He dwells in light, it is really making two sweeping assertions about the nature of God.

First of all, He is intellectually true; that is, He is completely without dishonesty or error in His thinking and in what He says. Secondly, when God is described as light, it means that He is morally pure; that is, He is completely without the slightest taint of sin. So light, then, exists, in part, to illustrate to us the very nature of the being who is God.

Secondly, light illustrates the gulf between Christ's kingdom and Satan's kingdom. Colossians, chapter 1, verse 13, Paul says, "(God) rescued us (In salvation, God rescued us.) from the domain of darkness." In other words, we lived in darkness; that was how our lives could best be described, "and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son." Understood, out of darkness into light.

Thirdly, light illustrates the glory of the gospel versus the darkness of false religion and damning error. In 2 Corinthians, chapter 4, verse 4, Paul writes, "…the god of this world (Satan) has blinded the minds of the unbelieving (Why?) so that they may not see the light (The light of what?) the light of the…glory of the…gospel and of Christ," Christ who is the image of God. You see, the darkness in Scripture pictures a mind that is shut off from the truth, that is locked in the false philosophies of this world, that is locked in man-made, works-based religion versus the light, of the glory of the gospel.

Number four, light illustrates the profound difference in nature between those who belong to God's kingdom and those who don't. 1 Thessalonians, chapter 5, verse 5 says of believers, "…you are all (If you're a Christian, this is you.) you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of the night nor of the darkness." There is a profound difference in the nature of those who have come to know Jesus Christ and those who don't.

You see, a lot of people think Christianity is about sort of, self-reformation, it's about producing some change in yourself, it's about some decision you make. No! Christianity is, at its core, a promise that God will radically change the nature of the person who believes in Jesus Christ. He will make them a new creation, and light and dark illustrate those two realities.

Number five, light illustrates the difference between deeds that are done in darkness, that characterize the children of the dark, versus deeds that are done in the day that characterize the children of the light. We're going to see that in this passage.

Number six, light illustrates the difference between the darkness of this present age and the light of the age to come. So, let me just encourage you, let light and darkness, as they unfold in the cycles of every day and even as you walk into a darkened room and turn on the light switch, let the light and darkness remind you of those great realities because that's why God created the light, that's why He separated night and day and made darkness and light; it was to illustrate those great realities as well as to care for this planet.

Now, in this final paragraph of Romans 13, Paul uses light and darkness primarily in the last two senses that I just talked about; the deeds that are done by the children of the dark versus the children of the light, and the darkness of this present age versus the light of the age to come.

Now again, let me remind you of our overall context. We're studying the fourth and final section of Paul's letter to the Romans; we've entitled it. "The Gospel Applied." It begins in chapter 12, verse 1, runs through chapter 15, verse 13.

Today we come to a sixth response that we should have because of the gospel, and it's this, it is, "A Gospel Response to Our Own Flesh," a gospel response to the flesh. This is the message of chapter 13, verses 11 through 14. Let's read it together, Romans 13, beginning in verse 11.

Do this, knowing the time that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.

We could summarize this paragraph like this, Paul says it is time for us, as believers, to wake up from our spiritual laziness and go to war with our flesh. That's the point that we're going to discover in this paragraph.

Now, let me just start by defining what we mean when we talk about our flesh. Paul has talked about it often in the book of Romans and we've defined it before, but for those of you weren't here when we were in that portion, let me just give you a definition. If you are a Christian, you have been made new, you have a new nature, you have been re-created, you've experienced a spiritual resurrection, you've come from spiritual death into spiritual life, you are not the person you used to be.

However, there is a part of you that remains unredeemed; its base of operations is your body because your body has not yet been redeemed. That is your flesh. Your flesh, let me define it this way, is 'that part of you that remains unredeemed that is still in its fallenness.'

Now, this again, your body is not inherently evil. God created us to have bodies; we'll have glorified bodies in eternity. Our Lord has, right now, a glorified human body, so the body is not inherently evil. But, because our bodies have not been redeemed, they are the base of operations for our fallenness. By the way, that includes our brain, the connecting point between the material and immaterial part of us. So, that means that our flesh affects our thinking, our affections, our desires, our motives, our decisions, our will. As John MacArthur writes, "The flesh is the ugly complex of human sinful desires that includes the ungodly motives, affections, principles, purposes, words, actions, that sin generates through our bodies." You, believer, still have the flesh; there is a part of you that is unredeemed.

Now, there are many unhelpful ways that believers try to respond to their flesh, let me just point out a couple of them. First of all, some forget that it even exists; they act like they're already in heaven and they can just live and they don't have anything to fight. If you do that, I can promise you, you are subject to ongoing spiritual defeat because your flesh is not asleep and it's at work to destroy you.

A second unhelpful way that believers respond to their flesh is don't try to fight it all. They know it's there, but don't fight it, just give it what it wants. The recent version of this failed idea is the Tullian Tchividjian model of cross-centered sanctification. It says this basically, "Listen, don't worry about holiness, just relax and enjoy the gospel blessings."

A third wrong approach is, try to fight your flesh, but do so with all the wrong weapons. What are the wrong weapons? Well, this isn't an exhaustive list, but it's a list of some of the ways that believers try to fight their flesh and lose because they're the wrong weapons. First of all, human willpower alone. How many times have you said to yourself, "I won't, I won't, I won't! I won't do that again!"

Another wrong weapon is prayer alone. Now, we're going to talk next week about the fact that prayer plays a role in this. But, unfortunately there are many Christians who get in their heads this idea that, "I just need to pray for deliverance; God just needs to do it, and I'm waiting for Him to do it and I keep asking Him to."

A third wrong weapon is secular psychology. Some Christians don't find an answer, they think, in the Scripture, and so they look elsewhere, and they begin to look to pop psychology or secular psychology in some form as if that's going to somehow help them with their struggle with sin.

A fourth wrong weapon is a spiritual crisis or sudden victory. Now, this idea takes two forms primarily. The first is, I don't know if you've heard this word or not, the Keswick or deeper life approach. Unfortunately, as a new Christian back in the late 70's, I came across some of this stuff and it is absolutely deadly to your spiritual life. Here's what it says. It says , "You know the problem with you, the reason you're still struggling with your sin and struggling with your flesh is because you're trying too hard. 'You need to just let go and let God!'" Have you ever heard that expression? That comes from Keswick theology, that is, a deeper life model. It says you can experience, in a moment of time of spiritual crisis, you can go from defeat to victory, and the first major step is total surrender or abandonment to God.

A second form of this idea of a crisis experience is the Wesleyan Pentecostal second blessing. If you grew up in the Methodist Church or somewhere around the Methodist Church, or a Pentecostal church, you were taught this. That in a moment of spiritual crisis, God suddenly delivers us either from all of our sinful tendencies, that's perfectionism; or more often it's taught from the dominating sin or sins in our lives. This is described as a second work of grace. Here's how they describe it. They say, "In a simple act of faith, you can receive spiritual victory just like you received salvation."

Now, many of us here didn't grow up in purely Wesleyan or Pentecostal circles, but there are other versions of this idea. There's Baptist version of it. If you grew up Baptist like I did, here's how it works in the Baptist circles. You just need, real problem, the reason you're still struggling with sin is you just need to fully surrender, or you just need to re-dedicate your life, and that'll fix it. You know, if you have this sort of emotional experience, you walk forward, you throw a stick in the fire at camp or you, you know, you break down in tears at the altar, then, you know, something radical is going to happen and suddenly you're not going to struggle with that sin in your life anymore.

Some Bible churches take the approach that, "Okay, you've accepted Jesus as your Savior, but there's going to come a point in your life when you're going to accept Him as Lord, and that'll make all the difference." That's a patently un-biblical idea. When you come to Jesus Christ for salvation, you come accepting Him for who He is, which is both Savior and Lord. Paul says in Romans 10, that if you want to be saved, "You must confess Jesus as Lord, as well as believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead."

A fifth wrong idea, a wrong weapon to use is man-made rules and legalism. There are a lot of Christians who take this approach. I grew up in a circle where there were plenty of these, who thought if I just make my rules and like the Pharisees, I lay out these things that aren't even in the Bible, and sort of hedge myself in with fences, that that's going to protect me from my flesh. Well, there's a place for being careful to guard your heart from certain things, of course; but that's not going to give you victory over the flesh.

Sixth, a charismatic experience. The idea that spiritual growth is somehow catapulted forward or upward through an ecstatic experience like a vision or an out of body experience or speaking in tongues or any other of the manifestations of the miraculous gifts.

And, a seventh that I would add is self-reformation or behavior modification. Many well-intentioned Christians take this approach; they try to change themselves. Let me tell you something, if you take that approach, you will discover that it is very hard to change your behavior, and you will also discover that it is impossible to change your heart. In the text that we come to this morning and in many other places, Scripture teaches us that although only God can change us at the heart level, we are responsible to wage war against our flesh constantly, that's our responsibility.

So, let's see what we can learn here about the gospel response to the flesh. Now that you have come to embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, how do you respond to that remaining part of you that is unredeemed, that is the source of all of the problems, spiritually speaking, in your life?

Well, in Romans 13, Paul begins with biblical motivation for fighting your flesh. You see, if we're going to really wage war, we need a good reason. Those men and women who went to war in World War II, they were compelled in the darkest days, in the most horrific battles by the compelling motivation to save Europe and the rest of the world from Nazi ideology. We need motivation for this fight.

So, before Paul tells us how to do this, he starts by reminding us of the compelling reasons that if you're a Christian, you must fight your flesh. So, let's look at these together and let me just warn you we're not going any farther than this this morning.

The first motivation for fighting your flesh is this; it's late in redemptive history, it's late in redemptive history. Look at verse 11, "Do this, knowing the time." Now, first of all, look at those two words, "do this." There's some lack of clarity about what Paul means there. He could mean, he could be referring back to verses 8 through 10, and be saying, "Love," as I commanded you in verses 8 to 10, "knowing the time." Or, he could be talking about all he commanded beginning back in chapter 12, verse 1, all the way up to this paragraph. He says, "Do all those things, knowing the time." Or thirdly, he could be saying, "Do what I'm about to come out and command you in verses 11 through 14 because you know the time." Now we can't be absolutely sure, but I frankly lean toward the last of these. So, Paul says, "Fight your flesh because you are knowing the time."

Now, the Greek word translated 'time' here is not 'chronos.' In other words, it's not speaking of chronological time; it's not the kind of time you look at on your watch. Rather, the Greek word is 'kairos,' which means a period of time, an epic, or an era. It's often used in Scripture of the last time, that is the last epic in human history. Do you understand that, do you believe this? We are living in the last days. Again and again, Scripture says the end or the time is near. When did the last days begin? In the mind of God, they began when Christ came and offered Himself.

Listen to Hebrews, chapter 9, verse 26, "…now once at the consummation of the ages (Christ) has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself." In the mind of God, when Christ came into the world, His eternal Son took on flesh and lived a perfect life, and died a substitutionary death, and was raised from the dead; that was the consummation of the ages. And we are now living in the last days initiated by the coming of Christ.

In fact, even in the first century, this was true. In 1 Corinthians, chapter 10, verse 11, Paul writes, "…these things happened to (the Jews in the wilderness wanderings) as an example." They were written, listen to this, "…for our instruction (That's us, he's talking about the Corinthian believers in the first century.) upon whom the ends of the ages have come."

In 1 John, chapter 2, verse 18, John writes, "Children, it is the last hour." Not just the last days, it's the last hour. Paul's saying, "Listen, because you understand where we are in the scope of human history, and especially of redemptive history, because you know that the end of human history is quickly coming because you know that Christ is going to return, it could even be today, live like it." That's what he's saying. Don't forget what time it is in God's great plan of redemption; it's the last days, it's the last hour, and that should motivate you to get serious about your faith in battling your flesh.

There's a second motivation here for fighting the flesh; it's that it's past time to live like the new person you have become in Christ, it's past time to live like the new person you have become in Christ. Look at the rest of verse 11, "Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep." He says, "Since you know what time it is, you know that it's past time for you to wake up."

Now, what does that mean? Awakened from sleep here, this passage is obviously written to believers like you and me. This is something we're to do. So, what does it mean that we are to wake up, we're awakened from sleep? If you're a Christian, Paul says, it is past time for you to wake up from spiritual laziness, spiritual apathy, spiritual lethargy.

You know, a lot of Christians live their lives that way. They have come to Christ, they've repented, they've believed, but they're all focused on the stuff around them. They're living as if there's no tomorrow; they're not living in light of what's already happened to them. Paul says, "Wake up! Get out of your spiritual laziness and a get busy fighting your flesh!" Why is that? Because to continually, or to continue to sleep spiritually is really to say that you're not a Christian at all. Let me say that again, to continue to sleep spiritually, to be spiritually lazy, spiritually apathetic, says you're not a believer.

You see, unbelievers live their lives in the darkness. What's darkness a picture of? It's a picture of two things: It's a picture of sin and of error; just like a light is a picture of truth and purity, darkness is a picture of sin and error and that's how unbelievers live.

But then Christ comes, and Christ brings light to all those who believe in Him. Listen to Him in John 12, verse 46, He says, "I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me (Listen to this.) everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness." Jesus said, "I came to give light and if you come under the influence of my light, then your life is going to be vacated of the darkness.

So God, when He saved us, transferred us out of the darkness into light, out of error into truth, out of moral darkness and depravity and into purity. In Acts, chapter 26, verse 18, as Paul rehearses the mandate that God gave him with the gospel to the Gentiles, he says God says, "(I want you) to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me." In 1 Peter, chapter 2, verse 9, it says God "…has called you (Christian) out of darkness into His marvelous light."

Now, not only have you changed kingdoms, not only have you been transferred out of the domain of Satan and his darkness into the kingdom of light over which Christ rules, but you now have, as I said earlier, a different nature. 1 Thessalonians 5:5, I read of a few minutes ago, "…you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of the night nor of darkness."

You see, unbelievers love darkness. John 3:19, Jesus says, "This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light." But why don't people come to Christ? They love the darkness, why? "(Because) their deeds were evil." They don't want to give up the deeds that they do in their darkness? But, because as believers, our very nature has changed, we now love the light, and we love truth, and we love moral purity, and we want to walk in it. Ephesians 5:8, "…you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light."

In fact, let me put it this bluntly, a genuine desire and a sincere effort to obey Jesus Christ is evidence of a regenerate heart. Let me say that again, a genuine desire and a sincere effort to obey Christ is evidence of a regenerate heart. That's really clear in 1 John, chapter 1, verse 7, "…if we (are walking) in the Light…" That doesn't mean perfectly, doesn't mean without sin; that very passage talks about confessing our sin. But, if we are living our lives and our lives as a whole are characterized, not by darkness, not by error and sin, but by light, by truth, and by purity, and the pursuit of purity, a hunger and thirst for righteousness, if that's true…"If we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son (keeps on cleansing) us from all sin."

So, take an inventory, look in the mirror; if your life is primarily characterized by darkness and the love of darkness and the things that go with the darkness, then you're not a Christian. True Christians have had their very nature changed where they love the light and they run to the light. So, Paul is saying here, "Live like you have a new nature; live like the new person you have become in Jesus Christ. Wake up!"

The third motivation for fighting your flesh is it's almost time for your ultimate salvation; it's almost time for your ultimate salvation. Look at verse 11, "…it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed." It's interesting that if you go back to chapter 12, verse 1, there Paul encourages us to look at our present lives in light of the past, right? "I urge you, (brothers), by the mercies of God," that you've already experienced, live in keeping with that.

But here in chapter 13, verse 11, Paul encourages us to look at our present lives, not in light of the past, but in light of the future. You see, your salvation is not yet complete; there's more coming. Do you remember back in chapter 8? Chapter 8, verse 23, says that while we have already been saved, we have "the first-fruits of the Spirit, (still) we groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our (bodies). For in hope we have been saved." Verse 25, "…with perseverance we …eagerly …wait for (the fulfillment of that hope)." Ultimately, that hope is in verse 29, it's being "conformed to… His Son." Verse 30, it's being glorified. That's our hope.

Now, look again at verse 11 of chapter 13, "…now (Right now!) salvation is nearer to us then when we believed." Now, that can be a little confusing to some Christians, but you need to understand that Scripture regularly uses salvation in three tenses. First of all, it uses it of justification. We have been saved, in the past, from the guilt and penalty of sin. Ephesians 2, verses 5 and 8, "By grace you have been saved." It happened in the past, and it's a continuing reality. Romans 8:24, "…we have been saved." Titus 3:4 and 5:

When the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy.

So, at the moment of our salvation we were rescued from the guilt and penalty of sin, that's justification.

But Scripture also speaks of salvation in terms of sanctification; we are being saved from the power of sin. In 1 Corinthians, chapter 1, verse 18, Paul writes, "…the word of the cross (the message about the cross) is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God." When Scripture refers to our being saved in the present, it's referring to our ongoing salvation from the power and practice of sin.

But Scripture also speaks of salvation in another tense, a future tense, glorification. We will be saved from God's future wrath against sin and from sin entirely. In Romans, chapter 5, verse 9, it says, "…having…been justified by His blood, we (will) be saved (future) from the wrath of God through Him." In 1 Peter, chapter 1, verse 5, Peter writes, "(We) are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." It's in this third tense of salvation, future tense, our glorification that Paul is referring to in verse 11 of our text. He says that salvation is still in the future.

Now, this could refer to the rapture, it could refer to when Christ returns, and we are transformed into His image. 1 John 3:2, says, "…when He appears, we will be like Him, (for) we will see Him just as He is."

It could also refer to, not to Christ's return, but to our death and entrance into God's presence, because Hebrews 12, verse 23, says in heaven are "the spirits of the righteous made perfect." In other words, at the moment of death, our spirits are glorified; we are completely redeemed, saved from sin in our spirits, in our souls, when we are transported from this life into the presence of God. So, both of these are true. When we die or when Christ returns, whichever comes first, in that moment, we will be completely, finally, permanently, delivered from sin and death.

Paul says, "Don't you understand?" For you, think about this for a minute, Christian. For you, that moment, whether it's Christ's return or your death, when in a moments time you're transformed into the image of Jesus Christ, that moment is closer today than it was the moment you believed. Whether that's because this age ends at the return of Christ, or whether that means you're 70 or 80 years, or 90 if God's gracious, ends, the time when you will stand before Jesus Christ is near, very near. I love one of the new songs that we sing, "The Ancient of Days," and in one verse of that song goes like this:

Though I may not see what the future brings,

I will watch and wait for the Savior King.

Then my joy complete, standing face to face,

In the presence of the Ancient of Days.

Listen, if you really believe that day is coming and if you believe that that day is closer today than it has ever been, it will motivate you to fight your sin and pursue holiness.

There are certain phrases from my childhood that were said far too many times for me to forget. One of those was this, and you can make what you will of it, but, "Wait till your dad gets home." Yeah, I hear you. Some of you have experienced that. "Wait till your dad gets home." Now, that meant, if I heard that, that meant one of two things was true, that while dad was away at work, I had been disrespectful or disobedient to my mom, or at least she thought I had, or (It's just a joke, just kidding.) or sometimes it meant that before my father had left for work that morning, he had given me an assignment for that day; and instead of doing that, I'd wasted my time and failed to complete the task he has assigned. Either way, when my mom said those words, "Wait till your father gets home," it meant that it wasn't long until he would be there. And if I thought that there was any way I could finish the project he had assigned in the small amount of time left to me, I suddenly turned into a shining example of the Protestant work ethic. Sometimes that was motivated out of fear; sometimes it was driven out of a desire to please my dad. In verse 11, Paul says, "Don't you understand, your glorification is nearer than it's ever been; you are going home, you're going to see the one who saved you." If you're really convinced of that, it will revolutionize how you view your battle with sin.

How do I know that's true? In 1 John, chapter 3, verses 2 and 3, we read these words:

Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not …yet …appeared …what we will be. We know that when He appears we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. (Now, listen to this, that's our hope, that's our expectation; were going to see Him. John goes on.) And everyone who has this hope fixed on (Jesus) purifies himself, just as He is pure.

If you really believe He's coming, if you really believe you're soon to leave this life in just a few short years and stand in His presence, then it'll make you far more serious about your battle with your own sin.

There's a fourth motivation for fighting your flesh; it's almost time for Christ's return and the dawning of a new age, it's almost time for Christ's return and the dawning of a new age. Verse 12, "The night is almost gone, and the day is near." The Greek word translated 'almost gone' means, it's in its final stage, it's in its final stage. The night has advanced, and the day is near. Now, it's interesting here what Paul is doing. This present age is described as "the night." Is that how you think about the world in which we live? Folks, we live in Gotham City. This is the night; this is a dark place. People, today, love to talk about how enlightened they are, but God calls it the darkness, it's night.

Lloyd Jones writes, "Our view of this present world is (meaning the Christian, the biblical view is) that it is a dark and doomed world, a condemned world, under the wrath of God." Listen to this, this factors into our current period of time, "And all the efforts of all the politicians of every party will never change it; they are mere ripples on the surface, and they do not affect the real position of the depth at all." This is the night and the age to come is called "the day." And the dawning of the day is accomplished by the return of Jesus Christ.

He's written history's final page;

His Son's return will end this age.

The Lamb will come in glorious might;

Take back His world and end its night.

Hebrews 9:28 speaks of that return. It says, "…Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, (That was the first coming.) will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.) So, understand what Paul is saying here. The day, in verse 12, is the day when Christ appears a second time, bringing salvation for His people and inaugurating a new age. He's coming, He's coming!

The New Testament often refers to Christ's return in the concept that we would call, 'imminent.' A lot of Christians misunderstand what it means when we say, "Christ's return is imminent." Imminent does not mean that Christ will return soon, or even that Christ must return soon. Imminent means that Christ could return at any moment and we should live constantly in expectation of that event; that's what the New Testament teaches.

In Romans 16, verse 20, Paul lived in this anticipation. He says, "The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet." "Soon," it's going to happen! Philippians 3:20, "…we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ." Philippians 4:5, "…The Lord is near." Titus 3 2:13, "We look for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ." James 5:8, "…the coming of the Lord is near." 1 Peter 4:7, "The end of all things is near." Revelation 1:3, "Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near." And of course, three times at the end of Revelation Christ says, "I am coming quickly." Suddenly, unexpectedly, imminently!

Alvord writes these words, "On the certainty of that event, our faith is grounded. By the uncertainty of the time, our hope is stimulated, and our watchfulness aroused." Douglas Moo writes, "Christ's return is the next event in God's plan. Paul knew it could take place at any time and sought to prepare Christians both in his generation and in ours for that blessed hope."

Folks, the night, it's almost over! The dawning of the day is upon us. Live like it!

Paul's point is that one of the great dangers in the Christian life is losing track of what time it is in your own life and in redemptive history. Folks, "Wake up!" Look around you, it's really late in redemptive history; it's past time to live like the new person you are in Christ. It's almost time for your ultimate salvation. You are closer today either to your death or to Christ's return than when you believed and you're going to see Jesus Christ. It's almost time for Christ's return and for the dawning of the new age.

But while we wait for that, we still have our flesh and Paul says, "Listen, don't become careless in battling your flesh." In fact, if you live your life obeying your flesh and walking in the darkness, it proves that you've never really become a Christian at all. Hebrews 12:14 says, "Pursue (Literally, be continually pursuing.) …the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord."

So, folks, those are the motivations for fighting your flesh and what amazing motivations they are! Lord willing next week, we'll look at Paul's instructions for how to fight.

Let's pray together. Oh, Lord, forgive us for not believing these realities; grip our souls with them. Lord, don't let this be another sermon that we preach or hear. Father, grip us with these truths; the night, it's almost over, and the dawn is upon us. Lord, help us to believe that and believing that, help us to live like children of the day and not as if we were still children of the night.

Father, I pray for those who may be here this morning who are still children of the night, whose deeds, whose lives, are characterized by darkness. Lord, open their eyes, help them to see themselves in the mirror of your Word, and seeing themselves as lost and undone, may they run to Jesus Christ and find in Him the light of the gospel that brings forgiveness for sins, and a radical change to who they are. We pray in Jesus's name, Amen.