Romans 13:11-14 PRINCETON CHRISTIAN CHURCH 27 December 2020
It is nearing time to say goodbye to the old year and hello to the new. Some may say “good riddance” to the old year, and “come on, better days.” So, going into the new year, what should we do to have a better life?
Well, I think that the Apostle Paul gives us some vital answers to that question as he writes in Romans 13:11-14
Paul tells us to have a better life we need to do three things:
1- WAKE UP 2- CLEAN UP 3- DRESS UP
You know, there are actually 4 stages we go through in our lives. These four stages are these:
1) You believe in Santa Claus.
2) You don’t believe in Santa Claus.
3) You are Santa Claus.
4) You look like Santa Claus.
How do you like growing older? When we were younger, especially in our teen years, we couldn’t wait to become an adult. If you are already older, you may not like the idea of getting any older. Why? Because most people fear what is ahead.
We may not like the idea of a new year because a new year means we’re getting older and we may experience more health problems. It’s true, isn’t it? We never know what the new year will hold for us. As we sat here a year ago, no one could imagine the difficult year that was ahead for us.
Very often having something new sounds like a good thing. Especially if it’s something new like a new possession: a new house, new car, new wardrobe, a new computer, etc. New is nice. Often new is better but not always, however. Did you ever get something new that turned out to be not so nice? Say this man buys a new car. After the first 1000 miles, the transmission makes a loud grinding noise. The power windows sometimes stick and won’t go up. The alternator gave out at 950 miles. The seams on the seats are already pulling apart; the CD player ate my favorite CD and won’t eject it. And it guzzles gas!!!” That man is not a happy camper with his new car! New is not always nice.
So, as we start a new year we are hopeful that maybe, just maybe, some things will be better. Of course, when we look at it realistically, it depends on our attitude and our attitude. And, above that, it depends, more importantly on our spiritual attitude.
As we face the new year it is important that we think about what we’re going to do that will make us better people in the eyes of God. After all, it’s only in our relationship to God that anything can be better or get better. When things go wrong He is the only one who can make things right or better.
So, this morning, let’s look at three re-ups we need in our lives which will help up enjoy a better life in this new year.
1- We need to WAKE UP 2- We need to CLEAN UP 3 – We need to DRESS UP
How do we wake up? Hear what Paul says – Romans 13:11
“And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.”
A Sunday school teacher asked the children in class one Sunday, “Why is it necessary to be quiet in church?" One bright little boy piped up - “Because people are sleeping."
Most people who are spiritually asleep do so by choice. Many people deliberately ignore God, Christ and the Bible and go their merry, but miserable way.
Spiritual apathy is prevalent in our day and time. Apathy is lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern. Many people are spiritually asleep and don’t care to be woke up. They have the attitude of “I don’t know and I don’t care.” Or else “I don’t believe it and I won’t do it.”
A teacher gave a subject for composition class. The subject given was “WHAT?” and for an hour, the whole class expounded and defined this word and related concepts on paper. One boy, thinking he was pretty smart, turned in his paper in 1 minute and left the class. On his sheet, he had written: “SO WHAT?”
And, that is the kind of attitude that many people have today toward God, Christ, His Word, and toward those who follow Jesus Christ.
We understand, though, that Paul was writing to Christians in Rome, not to unbelievers. He is saying, “It’s time to wake up!” We expect people in Hollywood and the world to be spiritually asleep but not those who are in Christ. So, the question comes to us who do believe. What about us? Are we asleep spiritually in any way? It is possible we do fall asleep in our devotion to our Lord.
One old preacher was known to say: “The same church members who yell like Commanche Indians at a ball game on Saturday, sit like wooden Indians in church on Sunday.”
Could our lack of enthusiasm for the things of God be an indication that we need to make some adjustments to re-up our wakedness? Our lack of enthusiasm for the Word of God or the things of God could be an indication that we are somewhat sleepy and need to be woke up!
Now, let’s look at how we need to Clean Up. Again, let’s look at Paul’s instruction on the matter:
Romans 13:12 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 orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy.
Who likes to stay dirty? With all the evil, immorality, and crime we see in our country today it seems that some people in our world do want to stay dirty.
For example: Some time ago, in Indianapolis, a man was arrested after police say he left his 5-year-old son in a tractor-trailer while he ducked into an Indianapolis strip club to drink. The 39-year-old was arrested at 1:15 a.m. on child neglect and public intoxication charges after calling police to report his truck stolen and his child missing. Police say the man was too drunk to remember where he had parked, or even that his little boy was in the truck.
They found the boy inside watching cartoons on a television inside the cab. The keys were in the ignition, and the doors were unlocked. Police say the suspect put his son in jeopardy by leaving him exposed in a high crime area. We look at that and think how dumb can a man be? Well, it really wasn’t that the man was dumb. It was that he was bent on satisfying his desire for a drink over the wellbeing of his little boy. He needed to clean up. He needs to repent. He needs to clean up his life.
Most of us are not involved in all the sin Paul refers to in verse 13, but we do all struggle with our own sins of the flesh or sins of unwise choices and behavior. And it’s time to clean up! How do we do it?
We recognize whatever sin that is dragging us down and take it to the Lord. We ask Him for mercy and grace. We ask for mercy for our sins and ask for His grace to get over them!
God created us and He can recreate us if we’ll let Him by walking with Him daily. If we neglect to do that, we fall into the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality. It’s when the Lord gets out of sight that He is also out of mind and that’s when we get into trouble. To clean up we need to keep Him in sight and in mind every hour of the day. And, remember, we don’t have to go find Him; we don’t have to make an appointment to meet with Him. He is as close as your heart, your mind, and your willingness to give it all to Him.
So, now, we have Woken UP and we have Cleaned UP. Next, we need to Dress UP.
Look again, at Paul’s teaching – Romans 13:14: “Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”
How are we going to dress up?
We can either “dress up” or we can “dress down” in our daily lives. In either case, the emphasis is on the outward appearance. We all prefer to look decent whether we are dressed up or down. Casual is the “in” thing today. Too casual is often what we see today.
But “casual” is not what God wants from us on the inside. We all know that we have an outer person and an inner person. While the outer person may be clean and dressed up, the inner person may be completely different. Which is the real you? What people see, or what you know you to be?
You have heard of the story of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, written by Robert Louis Stevenson, and first published in the year 1886. It is about a London lawyer who investigates strange occurrences between his old friend, Dr Henry Jekyll, and Mr Hyde.
This dual character is a doctor who has covered up a secret life full of cruel deeds. He feels as if he is constantly battling within himself between what is good and what is evil, and is pushing away people dear to him.
Doesn’t that sound like many people today? This sounds just like us! We all battle with the darkness that lies within us! We all have a dark side. In the Bible, it’s called the old man of sin. Sin still lurks within us and raises its ugly head occasionally and seems to take control!
Paul further comments on this in regard to his own struggle in Romans 7:15:
“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”
Do you see it? It’s what Paul struggled with and it’s what we struggle with. We all struggle with the darkness or sin within us. The darkness is different for each of us, but it is there.
We are all guilty and we need to clean up our act and dress up! We need to dress ourselves up with Christ.
How do we clothe ourselves with the character of Christ? It won’t happen overnight. It takes time, effort, energy, and devotion.
Clothing ourselves with, and in, Christ is not a physical matter. It is a spiritual matter. Very often we fall into poor spiritual habits.
We don’t go to church as much as should.
We don’t read God’s Word as much as we should, which is a life-changing thing.
We don’t pray as much as we should.
We don’t serve as much as we should.
We don’t focus on walking with the Lord daily like we should.
These are the tools by which we change and get dressed with the character of Christ.
And for the new year, we all need to make some changes in our daily living in order to daily walk with Christ and allow Him to change us.
New is better, always, when we are talking about becoming new in Christ. We don’t need new and better material things, but we do all need to be a new and better person! And that will only happen in Christ.
Nature forms us. Education informs us. Sin deforms us, but only Christ transforms us! Choose Christ to become the better you in the new year!