17th October 2023
Read (Romans 13v11-12)
Message (Scott Woodburn)
I have incredibly fond memories of my childhood and especially the few weeks in the run up to Christmas. I can recall the Christmas tree over beside the bay window, I remember the homemade decorations and I call to mind how the month of December seemed to last forever. Not so anymore. These days I find that I wake up on Boxing Day morning and wonder how the past three months have gone in the blink of an eye.
Time is strange like that. For some it goes slowly and for others every day is like a vapour. Regardless of how you feel about the passing of time, Christians are to respond to the Gospel with a unified opinion of the day that we are in - we know the time and the hour has come for us to wake (v11). Human history is rapidly moving to a conclusion and as far as Paul was concerned, we are closer to the day of salvation than when we first believed (v11b).
As Christians we believe that the next great event in human history will be the return of Jesus with His arrival ushering in the end of this present evil age. Christ will come in power and take His place on the judgement seat. Everyone who has ever lived will stand before Him and He will separate His people from those who rejected the Gospel. Brothers and sisters, it is not hyperbole to say that we are living in the last days or as Paul would say "the night is far gone; the day is at hand." (v12)
The difference between night and day is often used in Scripture to compare the Christian life from the path of wickedness. Paul would tell the Thessalonians "For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation." (1 Thessalonians 5v5-8)
The image of the night reminds us of the wicked deeds that go with it, but as we consider the times we find ourselves in, we are to respond by casting off the works of darkness (v12). Paul would explain elsewhere the nature of these works saying "Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." (Galatians 5v19-21) Knowing then that time is short, we are to strive to leave no room for such works in our lives or fellowships.
Alternatively, the Christian is to be awake and dressed in the armour of light (v12). This armour is well described in Ephesians 6v13-18 and the Apostle's imagery is clear. The child of God belongs in the light of day well dressed to stand for Christ in this wicked age. Brothers and sisters, it doesn't matter how you perceive the passing of time, we can agree that time is short and the day of salvation draws near. "Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect." (Matthew 24v44)
Q72 What is forbidden in the seventh commandment? The seventh commandment forbiddeth all unchaste thoughts, words, and actions.