We Christians are daytime people who exist in that moment right before dawn breaks over the horizon. Rather than carousing in the darkness or sleeping in, we rise early and prepare ourselves for the coming day. For Paul, Jesus has brought about a turning of the ages. The present age, characterized by darkness, has been invaded by resurrection light. More than that, this present age will eventually pass away completely, giving way to the age of God’s new creation. When will this happen? When Jesus returns. As Paul notes, in Romans 13:11-14, we are only ever moving closer to this magnificent new day. Here’s how Paul captures that sentiment:
The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. – Romans 13:11
As we saw in Romans 8, we Christians are people of hope who look expectantly for God’s future. Now, in Romans 13, we see that our hope is teamed with action. Along with waiting expectantly for the day, we also live as if the day has already arrived. It is so important for us to understand this truth: hope and holiness belong together.
For hope-driven holiness to take root in our lives, we have to pursue it on purpose. This requires a two-fold movement that we’ve seen before in Romans. Here, in Romans 13, we (1) turn from the deeds of darkness and (2) put on the armor of light. Put off and put on. This is the movement of the Christian life.
In verse 14, Paul takes this imagery one step further. Putting on the armor of light now becomes clothing ourselves with Christ himself. Amazingly, Jesus will bring the new age in the future even as he currently empowers his people to live like that is true. It’s not automatic, though. We are called to put on the armor of light and clothe ourselves in Christ. There is action on the part of the believer.
Are there any deeds of darkness that you need to put off? Are there any ways that you can purposefully rely on the power of Christ? We are people of the day! May God grant us grace to act like it!