Go and Sin No More
Good Morning! Go ahead and grab your Bibles and turn with me to Romans chapter 13. Please remember that if you do not own a Bible, we have some on the back table that you are free to take as our gift to you.
We have now been in Romans for an entire year. I preached on Romans chapter 1. verse 1-7 on March 4 of last year. Just to be clear, we will not be in Romans for another year. But in the introduction sermon to Romans, one year ago, we talked about some of the historical importance of the book of Romans. We looked at the conversions of Martin Luther, of John Wesley, and of Augustine.
The first two, Luther and Wesley were converted through the Word of God while reading and studying Romans 1:16, For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
It is the power of God for salvation and the righteous shall live by faith. Those are things that hit Luther and Wesley. And as we read it, it’s completely understandable. But that’s not what Augustine read that hit him. The verse that hit him is one of the ones we are going to look at this morning.
As we prepare to look at these couple of verses, I know you’ve heard this a million times before, but it reminds me of the importance of context. If all we look at are these 4 verses, we don’t really get a sense of what Paul is trying to say. If we separate it from the context of the previous couple of verses especially and chapters 12 & 13 as a whole, we lose the point that Paul is making.
So, before we go any further, let’s go ahead and read our passage for this week, Romans 13:11-14. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version and encourage you to follow along in whichever version you have. Romans 13:11-14. Paul writes:
Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. 12 The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
So, we could, if we want, take this as a standalone section and go all sorts fo directions regarding the end times or so many other ways, but this passage is directly tied to what we have been reading in the last couple of sections, namely, living the Christina life in love.
Paul starts here, saying, “Besides this…” Explicitly and Purposely linking this passage with the previous passage instructing us to love our neighbor. The New American Standard translates it stronger and more connectivity, saying, “Do This…” again, referring to the Love your neighbor as the fulfillment of the law.
So, the question we ask, to see what Paul is saying, and what the Holy Spirit is inspiring him to say, is with the things it says in this passage, in these four verses, What does it mean to love your neighbor in light of these statements.
So, first off, what does it mean for us to love our neighbors knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now [g]salvation is nearer to us than when we believed.
Paul’s point here is simple, We don’t have much time left, and more specifically, we don’t know how much time we have left. Jesus tells us continually that when he comes back, it will be sudden. (Matthew 24, Mark 13, etc) We are not going to see him coming back and then choose to be on his side, but we make a choice now and become ready for the day of his appearing.
And one aspect of loving our neighbors are to give them the chance to make that choice before it’s too late. Because, as Paul writes in Philippians 2:10 & 11: at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
And that’s the great news! All will recognize God’s Glory and Jesus’ divinity. Every knee and every tongue. But look at the other part of what Paul says there. All who are in heaven or on earth or under earth. If we do not bow our knee and confess Jesus as LORD here in this life, we wont get a second chance in the next life.
And so our opportunity to love our neighbors is not timeless. The time is now. Our neighbors time is short. A huge part of loving them is sharing the truth of God Word with them. Paul wrote back in Romans 10, that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ. (Romans 10:17) So, there wont be a chance for our neighbor to know salvation, unless someone shares the Word of God with them. Thats what we call evangelism. And Evangelism is one of the ways that we love our neighbors. My late uncle used to say that God has continually promised forgiveness if we ask, but he has never promised us tomorrow.
Our salvation is nearer to us today than it was when we first believed. Our final, full salvation, the fullness of salvation, our final, perfect sanctification is coming. And this is important for us to remember, for us to meditate on. Judgment is coming. All will be judged at the end. We will be separated into wheat or chaff. We will be separated as sheep or goats. We will be judged with perfect and righteous judgment as we stand before Christ on that last day.
And those who are wheat, those who are sheep, those who are in Christ, we will be judged not in our own righteousness, we will not be judged based on our own works or standing. Instead, we will be judged based on Christs righteousness, the love and forgiveness that he has graced us with. And, we are to take that love in from Christ and flow it out towards our neighbors.
It is said that Jonathon Edwards spent 20 minutes each morning meditating on heaven. The reason given is that it was so that he could root his present actions in the reality of that coming event. (https://www.fpcjackson.org/resource-library/sermons/a-call-to-live-in-light-of-the-coming-end)
The essence of sharing our faith, of evangelizing is love. It is wanting to see as many people as possible see the Good News of Jesus Christ. It is wanting to see as many people as possible see the forgiveness of sins. It is wanting to see as many people as possible saved from Gods wrath poured out on their sins. The first and greatest way we can love our neighbors is to let them know of the Hope that we have in Christ.
Penn Jillette is the talking half of Penn and Teller, the comedic magician duo. Jillette has shared a story of a man in Las Vegas who was a fan, sharing the Gospel with him. Im quoting from one of the news stories written about this:
The man walked over to Jillette, complimented him on the show and handed him a Gideons New Testament.
“And he said, ‘I wrote in the front of it, and I wanted you to have this. I’m kind of proselytizing,'” Jillette said. “And then he said, ‘I’m a businessman. I’m sane. I’m not crazy.’ And he looked me right in the eyes.
“It was really wonderful. I believe he knew that I was an atheist. But he was not defensive, and he looked me right in the eyes,” Jillette said. “And he was truly complimentary. It didn’t seem like empty flattery. He was really kind and nice and sane and looked me in the eyes and talked to me and then gave me this Bible.”
Jillette then stated he doesn’t respect people who don’t proselytize.
“I don’t respect that at all. If you believe that there’s a heaven and hell and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life or whatever, and you think that it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward, and atheists who think that people shouldn’t proselytize — ‘Just leave me alone, keep your religion to yourself.’
“How much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize?” Jillette asked. “How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that? If I believed beyond a shadow of a doubt that a truck was coming at you and you didn’t believe it, and that truck was bearing down on you, there’s a certain point where I tackle you. And this is more important than that.”
He gets it. Love does not always fit the little square, the little box of what we want or what we expect. It can and often will be uncomfortable. Both for us to go and do the loving, but also for the one being loved.
And that means that there will be push back. There will be rejection and fight back. That means that we will face spiritual warfare. We show love to our neighbors by fighting that warfare. Paul uses familiar wording, giving us the imagery of putting on armor and contrast light and darkness.
Of Course, Ephesians 6 talks of putting on the Armor of God. Paul writes in Ephesians 6:10-20:
0 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
Now, of course, there are many sermons that we could preach based on those 10 verses right there, and I encourage you, read this passge purposely this week. All of it. From the first words of verse 10, through the last words of verse 20. We are in a spiritual battle, and it is not with our neighbors. It is not with our enemies. It is not with our fellow human beings, made in the image of God, deceived, unsaved and doing works of darkness. Instead, we are fighting against the rulers and authorities, or powers and principalities as some translations have it, against the spiritual forces of evil.
` And Jesus gives us some defenses listed here, to protect us in this unseen, but very real fight that we are in. And he gives us one offensive weapon, His Word, the Bible. We use what God has said to combat evil, to combat sin, to combat spiritual forces, and to combat anything else that comes between God and his image bearers.
And that last thing he says here too, praying in the spirit at ALL times, with ALL prayer and supplication, with ALL perseverance, for ALL saints, and also for me. And so, in that, also for you, for each and every one of us. So that we may speak tha truth of the Gospel boldly as we ought.
And as we put on the armor of light, we do so in order to cast off the works of darkness. We see numerous times in Paul’s letters that he lists a variety and partial list if sins that are committed. We saw one in Romans chapter 1, we see a couple mentioned in this passage here that we will touch on in a moment. We see another in 1 Corinthians chapter 6. And we see one in Galatians chapter 5.
Galatians chapter 5 is better known for the fruit of the Spirit in verses 22 & 23: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. But sometimes we forget what I call the anti-fruit, or the vegetables of the flesh. Galatians 5:19-21: Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy,[d] drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do[e] such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
These various lists and especially what Paul mentions here in Romans 13:13 , are the works of darkness. And as is Paul’s general pattern, and as we just saw in Galatians 5, Paul often says, don’t do this, but he doesn’t end there. He then goes on to say, Instead, go do this. Not only lay aside the works of darkness, but instead, put on the armor of light.
Light and darkness are often contrasted in the scriptures. And most often, specifically, the light that is referenced is Jesus. When we shine our light (Matthew 5) we are showing the light of Jesus. John writes in his Gospel, chapter 1, verses 5 and then 9: The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. & The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.
With this, the armor of light would be the armor of Jesus, or the armor of God, the way, Paul phrases it back in Ephesians 6. And this light, Jesus does and will shine out the darkness. Darkness does not drive out light, but instead light drives out the darkness. There is no question about who the winner is or will be. Jesus, the light, wins over sin and darkness. We love our neighbors by fighting the spiritual warfare and putting on the armor of God, shining light into the darkness and sharing the Good News of Christ with them.
We also show them love, not just by telling them, but also by showing them. Verse 13 & 14 here: Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
So, verse 13 here is the one that hit Augustine. Here is a recounting of his story:
Augustine then retires to his garden with his friend Alypius under a crushing shame stemming from his inability to overcome his fleshly desires.11 A fight between two wills is then discussed by Augustine; however, he claims both contrary wills as his own, as opposed to the Manichaean doctrine that espouses a good will and a bad will.12 Finally, a broken Augustine landed under a fig tree in tears begging God to intervene.13 Through the sounds of his weeping heart, he heard a child’s voice from a neighbor’s house saying, “Take up and read; take up and read.”14 Interpreting the voice as a message from God, Augustine quickly retrieved his letters of St. Paul and started reading where his “eyes first fell.”15 Romans 13:13-14 immediately vanquished Augustine’s fears and he informed Alypius of his decision, who in turn, upon reading further to Romans 14:1 joined Augustine in his decision.16 (https://www.livestransforming.com/augustine-conversion/)
One of the ways that we love our neighbors is by willing to show them when their actions and behaviors are contrary to Gods Word. This also means that others show love to us by pointing out when our actions are contrary to the word of God.
And the Word of God calls us to live as if we were already standing in front of God in judgment. We are to walk as if in the day. We are to be Holy as our father in heaven is holy. (1 Peter 1:15) And that means repenting. It means turning away from our sins. It means casting aside the works and deeds of the flesh, and walking in the light, as he is in the light.
I say it every week, and I say it again, because its vital and important. We don’t earn any grace or favor with God by our actions. We don’t earn or achieve our salvation because we are in any way, shape or form good enough. We are sinners who have fallen short of the glory of God. He has stepped in, sent Jesus Christ, God the Son to be the perfect substitute for our sins, allowing us forgiveness of sins and giving us his righteousness when the Holy spirit makes us a new creation. Salvation is wholly from God and in no part from ourselves. But, God calls us to do something in response ot our salvation. In order to access it, as Jesus tells us at the start of his ministry in Marks gospel, we are to Repent and believe.
If we get the order wrong, where we think that if we just stop sinning, God will love us, or if we are good enough, we wont need him, then someone needs to loving come and show us that we are wrong.
But one of the things that Paul is showing us is that we are to not be like everyone else around us. I saw a John MacArthur quote yesterday, A church that’s just like the world has nothing to offer the world. And that goes not only for the church as a body, but for all of us individually.
If there is not need to change our lives, to change our behaviors once we belong to Christ, than there is no reason for us to be Christians at all. There would be no hope in Christ, because we wouldn’t need him. And there would be nothing to offer our neighbors to show them love.
So often, as I said earlier, love doesn’t fit into the boxes that we want it too. Too often today, people want love to mean that all of our choices are affirmed. That we follow our bliss and our passion no matter what. That we are supported and encouraged and not held responsible for whatever we feel like doing right then. Paul says no!
No more orgies, no more drunkenness, no more fighting, no more jealousy, and no more sexual immorality of ANY kind. Stop! Those things go against Gods Word, they go against the way that God created things. They are sins. Paul says stop doing them.
Instead of clothing ourselves in these sins, we are to clothe ourselves in Christ. And we love our neighbor by telling them this. These actions are wrong. They are sin. And they are enough to damn you to hell.
Often, when we talk about repentance, and turning away from sin, we will qualify things by saying, “we are not going to be perfect, we will still sin, we will still slip.” And that is true in a sense. We will not be perfect in this lifetime. We will not see perfection til after the judgment when we get our heavenly bodies and see him face to face. This is true.
However, too often, by saying this, we are excusing those slips. And just by using that langues, slips, trips, falls, we deny the seriousness of our sins. We make them no big deal. But they are a very big deal. We are called to stop sinning. We are to make no provisions for the flesh. We are not to gratify the desires of the flesh.
Jesus, during his earthly ministry, would often confront sinful people, and show the love and grace and mercy but would always tell them to God and sin no more (John 4, John 8, etc.) Once we become a child of God, we are no longer bound by the chains of sin. We are no longer not able to not sin. Now, we have been freed and we do not have to give in to the desires that we are so used to giving in to. Way back in Genesis 4, in verse 7, God tells Cain, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to[c] you, but you must rule over it.”
By repenting, by living by a different standard, by separating not ourselves, but the way we live our lives from the world around us, we show the better way. We show the Holy way and we show the light of Jesus Christ. We show love.
Now of course, you have to use discernment and sense to determine how strongly, how often, how privately or publicly, how phrased, we tell this to those around us, but we need to tell them.
We cannot fall for the narrative of the world, where is crouched as Us vs Them. We just saw a few moments ago, that it isn’t, our battles are not with flesh and blood. So, instead of Us vs Them, but instead its Us For Them. Again, if we do ot show the world, if we do not show our neighbors that we are different, that there is something different about us, if they do not see the light of Christ shining through us and out from us, then what point is there to change what they are doing? What point is there to repent? What point is there to believe?
We are to love God with all our Heart, mind, soul and strength, and we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. (Luke 10:27) And some of the biggest and lovingest ways we can love our neighbor is to share the Gospel, the Word of God with them, to give them a chance to make a decision to be with Christ for eternity. We shine light into the darkness, showing Christ in all that we do. We fight the spiritual warfare going on around us, praying for them and using the Bible against sin and falsehoods. We remember that our fight in that battle is not our neighbors, but Satan and his fallen angels. We call them to repent of their sins, even as we continually repent of our sins and continue to fight against the desires of our flesh. We show them their sins nd offer the forgiveness of Christ, who, if we put him on, we are clothed in his righteousness, and that, And that is what allows us to pass through the judgement of God without incurring his wrath and we get to join him for eternity future in the Kingdom of Heaven, worshipping him and basking in his glory forever and ever. Amen.