The Influence of Light in a Culture of Darkness.

The best way to proclaim that you're redeemed is by the way you live. The Gospel makes a transformative change in our lives that should be noticeable to those around us. Faith comes by hearing, but hearing the Word of God does not come primarily from a pulpit. It comes from believers living with disciple-making intentions in the natural rhythms of life. Your character and joyful disposition should prompt conversations!

Romans 13:11-14 has 3 sections. Last week, we studied our Renewed Perspective.

Refined Direction (verses 12b-13)

When we have intellectually known the Gospel and submitted our will to Christ, we are able to guard our hearts and renew our minds using God's Word. When our perspective has been renewed, we are to put off the behavior of darkness and put on the behavior of light. Paul often uses this "stop and start" contrast. Contrasting good and evil using light and darkness has been a theme in literature for millennia.

The "armor of light" is demonstrated in our character. It will enable us to walk carefully in a restrained manner as if Jesus Christ had already arrived. To "behave properly" is to live in a way that is honorable, decent, and spiritually attractive.

Why does Paul detail what is involved in darkness? He reminds an already-healthy church to keep growing. He does the same thing in 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12. We are to continue to walk away from temptation in these areas:

  • "not in carousing and drunkenness" – Be self-controlled. Nothing good generally happens after midnight. Our dark world lives for the night. Children of the day are counter-cultural. Say no to anything that alters your mind.
  • "not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality" – Be pure. Often, parties and drinking leads to sexual immorality. Don't start down that slippery slope that will soon ruin your life.
  • "not in strife and jealousy" – Be discerning. Those who involve themselves in the sins above often experience strife and jealousy in their relationships. Christians will stand in stark contrast to this lifestyle if they live like who they are in Christ!
Relentless Appropriation (verse 14)

Paul restates what we are to "put on" for emphasis. God's grace leaves us no choice but to live like Christ. We have been made well from the darkness of sin, and a natural result is energy and excitement to live in a culture of light. We already put on Christ positionally when we were saved, but we continue to put Him on in our daily living. One author described it this way: "we who are in Christ must envelop ourselves with Him in such a way that He directs all of our thinking and conduct."

We enjoy adorning ourselves with new clothes. Students love varsity jackets that display their accomplishments. Think of the joy a woman would feel in trying on the wedding dress of a beloved mother or grandmother. Imagine the pride of a son putting on his dad's or grandfather's varsity jacket. We put on Christ in a similar way when we live a godly lifestyle. Our spiritual clothes may be misunderstood, but we are proud of them because of what Christ has done for us. He died for sin so that we could die to sin.

In case the metaphor did not make sense, Paul says it plainly: "make no provision for the flesh." Stay away even from the temptation that leads to the sins listed above.

Application Points

  • The best way to proclaim that you're redeemed is by the way you live. Your character and joyful disposition should prompt conversations! Jesus doesn't go anywhere without radically changing people. Has He changed your life for the better?
  • Don't get too close to temptation, whether it be parties, drinking, drugs, immorality, sensuality, strife, or jealousy. Often those who were saved at younger ages have a harder time following this, especially if they were raised in a rules-based manner instead of relationship-based. First-generation believers may have to be patient with their fellow believers as we disciple each other to follow the mandates of text like this.

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • 1 Peter 2:1-2, Ephesians 4:22-32 – Put off and put on.
  • Ephesians 6:10-17, 1 Thessalonians 5:8 – The armor of God.
  • 1 Peter 5:8 – Avoid temptation.
A Hymn to Encourage: "Redeemed"

Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it!
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed through His infinite mercy,
His child and forever I am.

Redeemed, redeemed,
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed, redeemed,
His child and forever I am.

Redeemed, and so happy in Jesus,
No language my rapture can tell;
I know that the light of His presence
With me doth continually dwell.

I think of my blessed Redeemer,
I think of Him all the day long:
I sing, for I cannot be silent;
His love is the theme of my song.