Monday, February 24, 2014

Grace And Right Living by Martin Wiles

Romans 13:11-14

A. Have you ever been late for something important?
1. The Home Alone movies were some of my favorites. I think they accurately portray what a young boy would do if his parents left him home alone-whether on purpose or accidentally. 
2. In the first two movies, the family is about to embark on a family vacation but oversleep. When they finally wake up and realize they only have a short time to get to the airport, the scenes are amusing. Everyone is running around. Confusion reigns. But they make it. In the first one, Kevin is left home by accident. In the second, he gets on the wrong plane and ends up in New York. 
3. There have been a couple of occasions when I’ve overslept because the alarm clock didn’t go off. I would suddenly awake, look at the time with a confused stare, make sure this was really a day I was supposed to go to work, then jump up and feel as if I was behind for the rest of the day. 
4. For others, being late is more of a habit than an occasional thing. I recall one church my dad pastored. There was a gentleman in the church who was a very dedicated member and Christian but he was fifteen minutes late for every service. I think he was actually on time, just his time and not church time. 
5. Sometimes we miss out on important things when we are late. Think of a door prize drawing with a wonderful prize, but you had to be present for the drawing. They made the drawing, you were running late, they drew your name, you weren’t there, they drew another name and you lost out. 
6. Paul has previously given us some examples of responsible living and what it entails. Now he reinforces that by reminding us the hour is late. Time is running out.

I. Right Living Remembers Time Is Limited (vv. 11-12)
A. God’s original intention may have been for his world and the people he created to exist forever. But being all knowing, he knew humans would sin and sin would not only corrupt them but also his world.
1. Since the wages of sin is death (6:23), our bodies age and die.
2. Sin also brings death to everything else in the form of corruption. Nothing material lasts forever.
3. Jesus tells us to store our treasures in heaven where moths will not eat, rust will not destroy and thieves will not steal. When we store them on earth, all of the above can or do affect them. (Matthew 6:19-21)

B. Jesus also instructs his followers to work while it’s day because the night is coming. (John 9:4)
1. While Jesus says the night is coming, Paul says the night is almost over. 
2. Paul is referencing the night of evil while Jesus is referencing the necessity of doing our work for him quickly.
3. The conclusions are the same, however. We only have a limited time to do God’s work. 

C. The lateness of the hour should determine our lifestyle.
1. Whether we are alive at Christ’s coming or whether he comes for us at death, the result should be the same.
2. Right living involves the personal attention to our spiritual lives and attention to God’s work as we realize the end may be near.
3. One translation puts it plainly: Time is running out. (NLT)
4. At death, it will be too late to get our spiritual houses in order or to tell anyone else about Christ.
5. The work we do and are required to do must be done now.
6. It should be the believer’s desire to live a lifestyle that would be Christ approved. We don’t want to be ashamed if Christ would come and find us with things in our life that should not be there. 
7. Believers are responsible for being spiritually alert, morally upright and diligently serving as we await Christ’s return. 
8. Since we don’t know when he will come, there will be no last minute opportunity to get things settled just as there is no guarantee we will know before we die. Just as it is foolish to live wickedly and depend on having a chance before death to change, so it is foolish for the believer to live with known sin in their life and think they may have an opportunity to change before Christ’s coming. Such an attitude is evidence of a heart not right with God. 

D. Paul’s use of the night also gives us encouragement.
1. How often do we tire of living in this sinful world with all its disappointments, diseases and shortcomings?
2. I’ve experienced it with many people in my ministry, but I distinctly recall my dad and grandfather being ready to go home. 
3. Paul says the coming of our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.
4. This again reminds us our salvation is progressive though instantaneous in time. We are saved from the penalty of sin, are being saved from the power of sin and will be saved from the presence of sin.

II. Right Living Remembers Some Things Don’t Fit The Believer (vv. 12-13)
A. Living in darkness doesn’t fit us.
1. Jesus was the light of the world. In his Sermon on the Mount, he tells us we are salt and light.
2. We are to shed evil deeds like dirty clothing. All of us have felt the relief of getting out of dirty clothes, taking a shower and putting on fresh clean clothes.
3. I remember the time I helped a local farmer pick watermelons. Every piece of clothes I had on was sweat soaked. I stunk as well as did my clothes. It felt good to peel them off and get clean.
4. Or the time when my daughter and I backpacked five days on the Foothills Trail of South Carolina and didn’t get a shower for six days. It was a refreshing feeling to hop in the shower, and it also felt good to change into some clean clothes each night even though we couldn’t bathe. 
5. Just as we don’t enjoy sweat soaked or dirty clothes, there are certain things we shouldn’t enjoy as believers because we have been made new creations in Christ. Some things don’t wear well, just as there may be pieces of clothes that fit us in size but just don’t look well or wear well on us.

B. What must the believer put off?
1. Paul makes a general statement when he says evil deeds.
2. Dishonesty. Paul states it in the positive by saying we should be true in everything we do. Honesty in our behavior will be an enormous witness to others. 
3. Wild parties and drunkenness. We may debate whether the Bible requires believers to totally abstain from alcohol, but even if we don’t think it does, it is certain that it forbids drunkenness.
4. Our witness is at stake with this action as it is with other actions we might say are not necessarily wrong but perhaps unwise for the believer.
5. It would be very difficult for a believer to be a successful witness while sitting in a bar drinking with his unsaved buddies. 
6. Adultery and immoral living. What society defines or allows as moral may not-and often does not, match what God says is moral.
7. Being familiar with the Commandments and Bible as a whole will clue us in on what God defines as moral and immoral.
8. Paul mentions adultery but sexual activity before marriage is wrong as well. We can also include homosexual activity.
9. Fighting and jealousy round out his list. Fist fights, brawls, and fighting between God’s children are never good witnesses for the believer. I recall being told the story of two men fighting in the church parking lot, I think over some sports related matter.
10. Jealousy aligns itself with selfishness and should not be found in our life. 
11. Paul appears to lump bad and not so bad behaviors together which reminds us he is of the same opinion as Jesus. In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus reminds us that hatred is just as bad as murder and lust as adultery. The inner attitudes make us just as guilty as the outward actions. 

III. Right Living Remembers The Things That Do Fit (vv. 12-13, 14)
A. Right living fits. Anything that isn’t wrong fits who we are. 

B. Honesty and decency fit. They are always the best policy. 

C. Not thinking on ways to indulge our evil desires. Believers still do battle with the flesh-our old patterns of thinking and acting, but God gives us power to overcome these temptations. 

D. Letting Christ have control of our life. All areas are included. We don’t maintain control of any territory. 

E. The armor we put on is detailed in Ephesians 6:10-18. 

F. How do we clothe ourselves with right living?
1. Exemplify Jesus’ qualities.
2. Use spiritual weapons.
3. Train our minds not to be persuaded by things that gratify the flesh.

A. It should not be our desire to see how close we can come to sin without sinning.

B. The believer should stay as far away as possible from anything that would damage their testimony and the name of our Lord. 

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