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Sunday, June 28, 2015

[Matt's Messages] "What Time Is It?"

“What Time Is It?”
All Roads Lead to Romans
June 28, 2015 :: Romans 13:8-14 

If you remember, two weeks ago, we looked at verses 1 through 7 where Paul, as part of his call on us to live our lives in total dedication to Christ unconformed to the world and transformed by the renewing of our minds–asked us to be submissive to the governing authorities because they are God's servants.

And we said two weeks ago that that is not always easy to do, to be submissive to the powers-that-be. Especially when that speed limit sign says “25 miles per hour.”

And after the week our nation has just had, it’s become much harder for me personally to live out those verses.

But live them out, we must! I’m sure that it was much harder for Paul to live out verses 1 through 7 living under the Roman Emperor Nero than it is for us here today.

Paul ended (v.7) by saying, “Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.”

That’s not how the world operates, but it is how transformed disciples operate. Those with a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ.

Now, in verse 8, Paul picks up on that language of “owing” something to someone, but he then takes it in a different direction.

“What Time Is It?”

That’s the title of today’s message. Not a request to look at your watch.

“What Time Is It?”

In verse 11, Paul says that we are to do the things he’s saying, “understanding the present time.”

King James puts it, “...knowing the time.”

Heather and I experienced a good bit of jet lag and time disorientation last week when we traveled to California.

That first day, we were so mixed up because nothing worked according to plan (or at least according to the airlines’ plan). We hardly knew what time it was.

We got there to San Diego at 11pm. We had expected to get in at 5pm, but it was 11pm. But it was 11pm Pacific Time.

Anybody know what time that is here?

Yes, two o’clock in the morning.

And we still had to get a rental car and then drive an hour north to Carlsbad!

So, it was like 3:30am here when we tumbled into our bed at the hotel.

But it was only 12:30am there.

And then it was fall asleep and wake up and try to figure out, what?

“What Time Is It?”

What time is it here? What time do we need to leave to go to the conference?

Where’s the coffee?

We got up, and it was time for breakfast in California, but you all here were having lunch. And we were still tired!

And it was like that a bit all week and then we came back, and we lost 3 hours on the way. We were in Phoenix, and I thought that would be Mountain Time, but it turned out to be still Pacific Time so we got on a flight that took about 4 hours in the air, but when we landed it was 7 hours later.

“What Time Is It?”

And all of this last week, we’ve been readjusting and getting back on this time zone.

In Romans 13, Paul is reminding us what time it is and how we should live in view of that time. What moment are we in God’s plan for human history?

We, as Christians, need to know what time it is and act accordingly.

I have three points this morning, and they are all applicational.

The first is this.

#1. IT IS TIME TO LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR.

Christian, it is time (it’s always time) to love your neighbor.

That’s what Paul is saying in verse 8.

“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.”

Now, Paul is not forbidding the borrowing of money. He’s not saying that we can’t ever take a loan.

He is saying that if we take a loan, that we must repay the loan. We must fulfill our obligation to pay our debt.

But, he also says that there is debt we owe that we never stop paying on.

It’s the debt to love one another as Christians.

That debt is never ending. That debt never goes away.

We always owe LOVE.

Why? I think it’s because of how deeply we’ve been loved by God.

Remember the first sermon in this series on Romans and how we learned that we are BELOVED of God?

You are loved by God.

And because of that, you are called to love others. And not stop.

“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.” v.9 “The commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not covet,’ and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Do you see what Paul is doing there?

Paul quotes four of the commandments that we might call the “horizontal commandments” the ones often called the second table of the law.

These are the commandments of the 10 commandments on how to treat other humans.

“‘Do not commit adultery,' ‘Do not murder,' ‘Do not steal,' ‘Do not covet,'...and whatever other commandment there may be...” I think that means whatever other laws there are in the Old Testament or anywhere if they are just laws that govern our relationships with other people.

The apostle says that they call be summed up with one rule. “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Who does Paul sound like?

Jesus, right? Remember when the expert in the law asked Jesus what the greatest commandment was? And he answered:
“'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40).
Paul is echoing Jesus.

Do you want to fulfill the law? Here is the goal of the law, the focus of the law, the heart of the law, the full measure of the law, the thread that runs through all good laws: “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”

V.10 “Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”

It’s always time to love your neighbor.

And if we ask “Who is my neighbor,” then we hear Jesus’ voice again telling us the parable of the Good Samaritan.

Our neighbor is the one near us whom we might have nothing in common with and might naturally despise but has a need that we can fill.

“Love your neighbor as yourself.”

How are we doing that today?

How did you do this week at loving the people around you?

Not loving your brother, here, but loving your neighbor.

Not just the people in your neighborhood, but the people who crossed your path like that Jewish man who was robbed and the Samaritan took care of?

“Love your neighbor as yourself.”

How are you doing at that?

Loving ourselves comes easily, but loving as we love ourselves is not natural. It’s supernatural. It takes the grace of God.

Is there someone in your life right now that you need to show some love to?

Who is it? And what does love look like right now in that relationship?

It’s time to love your neighbor.

Looking back over last week’s Supreme Court decision about same-sex marriage, it struck me that if we had done a better job twenty, thirty, forty, fifty or more years ago at genuinely loving our neighbors who had same-sex attraction, we might not be in the situation we are now.

Of course, it’s more complicated than that and there have always been some Christians who did show genuine love to people with those attractions. And no matter how loving we are, there will always be people who are mad at us for proclaiming the truth about God’s good design for sexuality.

But still. The most heart-wrenching things I read this weekend about same-sex marriage was how many people finally felt loved and affirmed and accepted.

What if we, as Christians, had consistently sent the message that those folks, our neighbors, were loved and affirmed and wanted even if they were different? Perhaps some of them, more of them, wouldn’t have made the errors they did in following their confusion and wrong desires and built their lives around a mistaken identity and twisting of God’s design.

Instead of being bullied and ignored and shunned and made-fun of and blamed for everything bad that ever happened. “It’s because of those gays!”

And now it’s going to be much harder to reach them and those who have developed sympathy for them.

It’s past time to love our neighbors. Not just in words but in actions.

“Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”

Who is the neighbor that God is calling you to love right now?

#2. IT’S TIME TO WAKE UP FROM YOUR SLUMBER. V.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.”

Paul says that it’s time to wake up from your slumber.

I think that the “and do this” is not just “and love your neighbor” but doing all of chapters 12 and 13. All of that stuff we’ve been learning about as being a transformed people.

Do all of this transformed living in view of what time it is. “Understanding the present time.”

What time is it exactly?

It’s time to wake up.

“The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.”

What kind of sleep do you think Paul is talking about?

All of the commentators that I studied this week about this verse agree that the slumber is “moral drowsiness” (Tom Schreiner’s phrase). It’s Christians who are lazy about living the Christian life. Christians who claim to know Jesus but haven’t let Him change them very much at all.

Spiritual lethargy.

People who claim to be followers of Jesus but are asleep at the wheel of their lives.

Paul says, “Wake up!

Hey, you!

What are you doing?

What do you think you are doing?

You say you love Jesus, but you keep living like this?”

The King James says, “...it is high time to awake out of sleep.”

I like that. “It’s high time to get up!”

"Let’s get going, soldier.

Because your commanding officer is on the way."

“The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.”

That’s what time it is. It is almost time for the return of Christ.

And if that was true for Paul 2,000 years ago, how much more true is it for us today?

Your salvation is nearer now than when you first believed.

So wake up and live the life you’re called to live right now. V.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.”

He’s using the categories of night and day to refer to two different epoch or eras.

The present evil age in which we now live is almost over. The day of the Lord when Christ returns and begins to make all things new again is almost upon us.

That’s what time it is. So how should you and I live?

Like the night or the day?

Like the day, right?

“So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.”

Wake up from our spiritual sleepyheadedness and put off and put off.

Put off the deeds darkness (the night) and put on the armor of light.

What’s that?

It’s the weapons we need to fight the ongoing battle we have with sin.

This is call to live out our Christianity.

Yesterday, we had the Membership Seminar here at the church, and we have 6 people take the seminar.

And we studied our EFCA Statement of Faith. Article 9 says this on the return of Christ:
We believe in the personal, bodily and premillennial return of our Lord Jesus Christ. The coming of Christ, at a time known only to God, demands constant expectancy and, as our blessed hope, motivates the believer to godly living, sacrificial service and energetic mission. 
"Godly living, sacrificial service, and energetic mission!"

Paul said, “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.”

Are you doing that? Are you awake?  V.13

“Let us behave decently, as in the daytime [there he goes again], not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy.”

He’s giving us some categories to put to the “deeds of darkness.”

Orgies or rioting and drunkeness, getting out-of-control with alcohol.
Sexual immorality and debauchery. That’s all sex outside of God’s design for marriage. It includes homosexuality but also sex between a boyfriend and girlfriend or sex between two people who are married to others, that is adultery. All sex outside of God’s good design.
Dissension and jealousy, quarelling and envy.

These are not how disciples of Jesus Christ are supposed to live.

Not because we are perfect but because we belong to the world that is to come.

“Let us behave decently, as in the daytime...”

What time is it?

Is the daytime here yet?

It’s not actually here yet, but we are supposed to live like is.

You and are called to live out the values of the world to come while we live in the world that is.

Wake up from your slumber.

Do you need to hear that today?

Some of you probably don’t. Some of you have tender consciences and you feel every little thing that you do wrong and hate it and regret it and want to change and repent and confess and need to be reminded of Romans 8:1. “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

But a lot of “Christians” do need a wake-up call.

They need to be reminded that their life is not about them.

That they are saved by grace and by grace are called to CHANGE.

Do you see how this is another call to be transformed?

We used to be one way, conformed to the world.

But because of the mercy of God, because of the gospel of grace, we are called to a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ.

So we live differently now. We put aside our old lives and we live out the new ones.

If you aren’t, it’s time to start.

It’s time to wake up from your slumber.

And #3. IT’S TIME TO BE CLOTHED WITH YOUR SAVIOR. V.14

“Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”

It’s time to wake up, and it’s time to get dressed.

And what clothes we have to put on!

Not just “the armor of light,” though that sounds really good.

But Paul actually says, “...clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ.”
What does that mean?

It means to become like Him, I’m sure.
It means to live like Him, I’m certain.

It also means to remind yourself of who your Savior is.

Put Him on each day.

Wrap your mind with Jesus.
Wrap your heart with Christ.

Immerse yourself in your relationship with Him.

So that when people look at you and the way you act, they get a glimpse of Jesus.

Do you see the opposite? It’s not Satan. It’s the flesh. V.14 again.

“Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not [even] think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”

Don’t go there. Don’t go to where you flesh wants to go.

Put on Jesus.

The old you has to go. Jesus has to come.

This is another way of saying Romans 12:1-2, isn’t it?

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world [take it off, that’s the night!], but be transformed by the renewing of your mind [put on Christ, the day is coming].”

Are you clothed with your Savior?

To be so, you first need a Savior.

Do you have Savior?

Have you come to trust in Jesus Christ and what He did for you on the Cross?

All of you sin, all of your shame, loaded down on Him.

The penalty paid so that you could go free.

Not so that you could feed your flesh what it wants.

But so that you could be freed from the penalty of sin, the power of sin, and someday soon even the presence of sin.

I invite you to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior.

And then to put Him on. Not just once but continually.

Clothe yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Fight the flesh by knowing yourself to be clothed with Christ and choosing yourself to be clothed with the Lord Jesus Christ who is coming soon and bringing the day with Him.

That’s what time it is.

***

Messages in this Series:

01. All Roads Lead to Romans
02. I Am Not Ashamed of the Gospel
03. The Bad News
04. Hope for Holy Sexuality
05. The Even Worse News
06. The Worst News
07. Justified
08. Father Abraham
09. The Blessings of Justification
10. How Much More
11. New You
12. Slaves Of...?
13. A Life-Changing Relationship with Jesus Christ
14. No Condemnation
15. If the Spirit Lives in You
16. The Spirit of Sonship
17. We Know
18. For Us
19. Who?
20. God's Word Has Not Failed
21. Israel Stumbled
22. God Raised Him From the Dead
23. God Always Keeps His Promises
24. Therefore
25. How to Think of Yourself
26. A Transformed People (Part One)
27. A Transformed People (Part Two)
28. A Transformed People (Part Three)
30. A Transformed People (Part Four)
31. God's Servants

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