“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.” (Romans 13:11–12, NASB95)
I am so thankful for nighttime when I am able to lie down and stretch out and rest, especially when the rest is full and not mixed with constant thoughts running through my mind or burdens on my heart. Rest is a very comfortable position, and sometimes it is one that I just don’t want to move myself from. After all, it can become so comfortable that nothing else seems to rise to a level of importance such that I feel compelled to stir.
In this passage we are being told that there is a reason to stir. When spiritual apathy combined with a loss of vision and hope for our eternal future settles in (even if for a brief season), we tend to back away from that which compels us to focus on our God and to give ourselves back to Him in service (Romans 12:1). There is no urgency. We can become slothful or drag our feet. We can put things off to a later time when it might be more convenient. All of these (and more) are signs that of a spiritual nap.
We may have the golden ticket so to speak, but having that golden ticket is not all that God intends. We are not to stand around as if waiting in line to gain admittance to His eternal presence. Rather, we are to live in such a way that we recognize the great change that He has done in us by giving us new life, and then we are to live that life fully. Once we were in darkness, unaware of our God’s love, presence, and salvation, but now we know. And that changes everything.
We are told to “do this,” referring to what had come before to this point in Romans 12:1-13:10. Having been saved from our sins, we now look forward to that time when we will be fully glorified in God’s presence. In between is this season of waiting in hopeful anticipation and it is not to be a dormant one, but one where we continue to grow in Christ and give ourselves back to Him in love as a response to His great love shown to us. And the most practical way we can do this is by loving one another and building up one another in Christ (Romans 12) while also living right in the world around us so that we are a light to them (Romans 13:1-10), taking every opportunity to share with them the good news of great hope and salvation in Jesus Christ.
We are told to no longer walk in darkness as those who do not know, but we are to walk in the light of His Spirit. And walking this way means that we are to put off or set aside those things that resembled who we were before trusting Christ for our salvation, and based upon the truths that we learn from His Word, we are to put on that which is good and right and honorable. This is what is meant by no longer walking in darkness, but walking in the light.
But it’s more than that also. Because if it were just about changing our behavior then all of the psychologists and self-help people out there would have the answers. No, it’s doing this because our identity has changed. We are no longer slaves to sin. We are no longer living in darkness unawares. We are children of the Light in whom there is no darkness. God has done a significant work in us to make us spiritually alive and to give us His Spirit to indwell us so that we might be equipped and enabled to live for Him. We are called to submit ourselves to Him, giving Him our full allegiance and service while changing the way we behave through obedience to His Word. We have a new Lord and He calls us to His service. So, we are to get up from our slumber and give Him everything back knowing that each day that passes is one day closer to either our entering His presence through the doorway of death or joining Him in the heavens at the rapture.
“giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,” (Colossians 1:12–13, NASB95)
“for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:8–10, NASB95)
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light. There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,” (John 1:1–12, NASB95)
“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13, NASB95)