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Sermon #142 — Romans Series
Title: How should I dress?
Text: Romans 13:11-14
Subject: The Believer’s Daily Attire
Date: Sunday Morning — April 22, 2018
Reading: Psalm 73:1-28
“Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart. (2) But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. (3) For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. (4) For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm. (5) They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men. (6) Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment. (7) Their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than heart could wish. (8) They are corrupt, and speak wickedly concerning oppression: they speak loftily. (9) They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walketh through the earth. (10) Therefore his people return hither: and waters of a full cup are wrung out to them. (11) And they say, How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the most High? (12) Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches. (13) Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency. (14) For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning. (15) If I say, I will speak thus; behold, I should offend against the generation of thy children. (16) When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me; (17) Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end. (18) Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction. (19) How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors. (20) As a dream when one awaketh; so, O Lord, when thou awakest, thou shalt despise their image. (21) Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins. (22) So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee. (23) Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand. (24) Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. (25) Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. (26) My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. (27) For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish: thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from thee. (28) But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works.”
I want to talk to you for a few minutes this morning about dressing. Parents teach their children early how to dress for school, for play, for dinner, and for church. As they get older and start to go out with others, they teach them (or should teach them) how to dress for different occasions. I remember taking class in High School in which the teacher frequently talked to us about how to dress for a job interview. When someone invites me to go with them to dinner or some special event, I usually want to know where we are going so that I will know how to dress. I always like to dress appropriately.
Š At a Restaurant
Š On the Golf Course
Š At a Funeral
Š On an Airplane
Š In the House of God
Š In the Pulpit
So, the title of my message this morning is — How should I dress? That is specifically the subject addressed in my text (Romans 13:11-14). — How should I dress? (Romans 13:11-14)
(Romans 13:11-14) And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. (12) The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. (13) Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. (14) But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.
In this passage Paul was inspired of God to use a parable to teach us some very important lessons. Using the parable of one rising in the morning and preparing for the work of the day, he tells us how to dress for the day. Of course, he is not talking about the clothes we are to put on our bodies but about our daily spiritual attire.
The apostle speaks of his Roman brethren as “knowing the time.” Do we? What is the time of day with us? It is no longer the dead of the night with you who are born of God. — “The night is far spent, the day is at hand.”
There was a time when the dense darkness of ignorance engulfed us. But the grace of God has made us light in the Lord. I was asleep in the darkness of death and sin. But God brought me out of darkness into his marvellous light. I sank in dark despair. All was night without a moon, without a star, without hope. I feared my future would be the “blackness of darkness forever.” How I thank God that that hopeless gloom is over and the light and joy of day in Christ Jesus has come and shines brightly in my soul!
The Sun of Righteousness has risen upon our souls with healing beneath his wings. Blessed be his name, Christ is a Sun that never sets! Still, there is night all around us and we look anxiously for that day when we shall see the Well-beloved in his kingdom and wake up in his likeness! But “the night is far spent, the day is at hand.” What a word of good cheer that is!
What, then, is “the time” Paul would have us know? It is the early morning, it is the dawning of the eternal day. The sun has scattered the thick darkness of nature’s night. We here the morning birds singing. The dew of grace has fallen upon us. The breath of the Spirit invigorates our souls. Night is gone, and the day of our salvation’s completion and perfection is at hand, when we shall be delivered, body, soul, and spirit, from all the evil consequences of the fall. — “Now is our salvation nearer than when we believed!”
Proposition: Knowing the time, we must dress accordingly.
“The night is far spent.” — The night of time, the night of this present evil world, with all its darkness, sin, and heresy will soon be over forever! Just imagine! Soon there will be an end to…
Š All War!
Š All Strife!
Š All Division!
Š All Injuries!
Š All Hurt Feelings!
Š All Pain!
Š All Sorrow!
Š All Disappointments!
Š All Sighing!
Š All Trouble!
Š All Tears!
Š All Sin!
“The day is at hand.” — In a little while the night of darkness, affliction, and trouble will be over, and the day of glory will appear. Then there will be no more night, no more darkness, no more doubts, no more fears, and no more unbelief. Then there will be but one continued, everlasting day of light, joy, and comfort, and uninterrupted communion with God, Father, Son, and Spirit!
“Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness.” — This is what we must do if we would be dressed for the day. We must throw off our bed covers and pajamas and put on our work clothes for the day. Cast off “the works of darkness.” — All evil works! All wickedness! Anything and everything that is contrary to or inconsistent with…
Š God, who is light.
Š Christ, the Light of the world.
Š The Word of God, which is a lamp to our feet and a light to our pathway.
Š The Gospel of Christ.
“And let us put on the armour of light.” — The armor of light is whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18).
(Ephesians 6:10-18) Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. (11) Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. (12) For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (13) Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (14) Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; (15) And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; (16) Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. (17) And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: (18) Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.
Without question, “the armor of light” in this context, refers to good works, good works we must put on day by day. Good works are the ornaments of grace, by which we are to “adorn the doctrine of God or Savior” (Titus 2:10).
(Titus 2:1-15) But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: (2) That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. (3) The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; (4) That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, (5) To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. (6) Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. (7) In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, (8) Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you. (9) Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again; (10) Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things. (11) For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, (12) Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; (13) Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; (14) Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. (15) These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.
“Let us walk honestly as in the day.” — That is “walk decently” as people dressed in “the armor of light.” Live in a way that is becoming to one who lives for God and lives by the gospel.
“Not in rioting.” — Children of the day are not to live for pleasure and debauchery, the nocturnal reveling the reprobate.
“And drunkenness.” — Drunkenness is shameful for anyone.
“Not in chambering and wantonness.” — Chambering and wantonness refer specifically to every form of sexual perversity: fornication, adultery, sodomy, and all the defilements of the bed.
“Not in strife and envying.” — Contention and quarrels are always the consequences of living for yourself, living to gratify the lusts of the flesh.
“But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ.” — Now, we’ve come to the heart of the matter. If we would dress as we should, if we would go through the day walking with God and serving him, if we would do good to men and not harm, we must “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” As a man takes off his bed clothes in the morning and dresses for work, let us put on the Lord Jesus Christ.”
The righteousness of Christ is compared to a garment. It is called “the best robe.” It is fine linen, clean and white and change of raiment for God’s elect.
Š Put on Us by God the Father in Justification.
Š Put in Us by God the Spirit in Regeneration.
Š Put on Us and Put in Us by the Mediation of God the Son.
Š Put on by Faith in Christ.
We receive this righteousness by faith. Only as we are dressed is Christ’s righteousness do we come to God and stand before him.
And we put on Christ day by day in the exercise of faith in him, as we make use of him, trusting him, his righteousness and his blood, his intercession and his power, his mercy and his grace, as our access to and acceptance with the thrice holy Lord God.
Š We put on Christ in baptism.
Š We put on Christ in worship.
Š We put on Christ at the Lord’s Table.
And we must put on the Lord Jesus Christ every day. Put him on as…
Š The Lord your Sovereign.
Š Jesus your Savior.
Š Christ your Anointing.
“And make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” — We cannot put on Christ if we make provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts of the flesh. — That is the struggle, the conflict, the warfare we have day by day. — Is it not?
Flesh and Spirit
Every heaven-born soul knows that there are two natures in him, the old man and the new, the carnal and the spiritual, the flesh and the spirit, that “the flesh lusteth against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh, and these two are contrary one to the other.” Paul never talks about living for God without reminding us of this fact (Romans 7:14-25; 2 Corinthians 12:1-10; Galatians 5:16-25).
Like Paul, with the mind we serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin. There are two I’s in every renewed person’s nature. There is the I which serves the law of God. And there is the I which serves the law of sin. Painful and humbling as that fact is, it is a blessed discovery of grace which can never be known but by the teaching of God the Holy Spirit. The carnal, unawakened, and unregenerate cannot know it. There is no conflict in his heart. It is only when by the quickening and regenerating operations of God the Holy Ghost that the soul, which by nature is dead in trespasses and sins, is brought forth into life and the warfare begins. And it is a warfare that never ends until the body drops into the grave.
I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith, and love, and every grace;
Might more of His salvation know,
And seek more earnestly His face.
[‘Twas He who taught me thus to pray,
And He, I trust, has answered prayer;
But it has been in such a way
As almost drove me to despair.]
I hoped that in some favored hour,
At once He’d answer my request;
And, by His love’s constraining power,
Subdue my sins and give me rest.
Instead of this, He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart,
And let the angry powers of hell
Assault my soul in every part.
Yea, more, with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe;
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Blasted my gourds and laid me low.
“Lord, why is this?” I trembling cried;
“Wilt Thou pursue Thy worm to death?”
“‘Tis in this way,” the Lord replied,
“I answer prayer for grace and faith.”
“These inward trials I employ,
From self and pride to set thee free;
And break thy schemes of earthly joy,
That thou mayst seek thy all in Me.”
— John Newton
Let me remind you of a few (6) things about this struggle, this warfare within, and I will be done.
Our Indwelling Corruption
1st — There remains in the living child of God indwelling corruption. Each of us carries with him a body of sin and death, which harasses and afflicts our souls relentlessly. What poverty, what leanness of soul it causes!
Š How barren it makes the ordinances of divine worship!
Š At times, neither a sense of sin nor of mercy move us!
Š At times, our hearts are harder than steel and colder than ice! — Nothing moves us! — Nothing melts us! — Nothing breaks us!
Then, God the Holy Ghost comes in grace and power, creates a hunger in the soul, sets before us Christ Jesus the Lord and his banqueting table of grace, spread to the full and running over with mercy, grace, and love! Then, everything is blessed!
Then, quickly, the soul asleep again! The means of grace, though still followed, degenerate into a mere form of godliness!
Š Prayer becomes a burden!
Š The Book of God is sealed!
Š The joy of faith languishes!
Š The love of Christ seems like something far off!
And while we sleep the enemy of our souls sows tares (Matthew 13:25).
Š Heresies spring up among us when the church and people of God sleep (Jude 4).
Š Lukewarmness regarding Christ and the distinct gospel doctrine prevails (1 Corinthians 11:19).
Š Compromise runs rampant under the pretense of brotherly love and compassion.
These and countless other sad, sad consequences of lethargy creep in unawares when the church of God sleeps in her day! Therefore, God the Holy Ghost demands that we wake up, cast off and have no fellowship with the works of darkness and put on the whole armor of light.
God’s Gracious Purpose
2nd — It should be evident to all that it is God’s gracious purpose in leaving us in this present state of warfare between the flesh and the spirit to make sin appear exceedingly sinful to us. Neither man, nor angel, nor all the creatures of God can tell, what sin is, neither have they any adequate conception of its evil. But the heaven-born soul is taught, feelingly taught, something of sin’s horrible evil. The remains of inbred and indwelling corruption in us, our own wickedness is made by God to be both our teacher and our corrector (Jeremiah 2:19).
(Jeremiah 2:19) Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord GOD of hosts.
It is in our weakness and by our weakness that God our Savior makes us strong (2 Corinthians 12:1-10).
(2 Corinthians 12:1-10) It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. (2) I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. (3) And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) (4) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. (5) Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities. (6) For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. (7) And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. (8) For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. (9) And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (10) Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
3rd — This consciousness of a body of inbred, indwelling sin, from which, though renewed by grace, we cannot disentangle ourselves, sweetly forces us by the grace of God to trust Christ alone for all our salvation and acceptance with God (Romans 7:24-8:1).
(Romans 7:24-8:1) O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? (25) I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. (8:1) There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
It is very blessed gift of grace to have the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead (2 Corinthians 1:9).
4th — Perhaps nothing more strikingly demonstrates the fact that God our Father, graciously and sovereignly, mysteriously and wondrously, overrules evil for good than in this process of grace by which God’s elect, groaning under the load of inbred and indwelling sin, are divorced from self-righteousness. Nothing but grace, by the continual humbling of sin within, can accomplish this blessed purpose. We are so wedded to some imaginary goodness in our poor fallen nature, that it takes constant mortification wrought in us from our infirmities, to teach us what we are! How very blessed it is, when humbled to the dust before God, to be rooted out of self-righteousness!
It is indescribably better for you and me to be made watchful and jealous over our hearts, by reason of conscious sin, than that we be proud and secure in thinking ourselves something when we are nothing.
Gracious to Others
5th — How kind, how understanding, how gracious, how forbearing and forgiving such sinners as we are ought to be to our brethren (Galatians 6:1-3; Ephesians 4:32-5:2; 1 Corinthians 4:7).
(Galatians 6:1-3) Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. (2) Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. (3) For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.
(Ephesians 4:32-5:2) And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. (5:1) Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; (2) And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.
(1 Corinthians 4:7) For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?
6th — Get dressed! — “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ!” Whatever tends to endear Christ and enhance our need of him and make him precious to our souls is best for us. And, what can accomplish this purpose more, than a sense of our daily, hour by hour, moment by moment, felt need of him?
Oh, precious Lord Jesus, let me be anything or nothing, less than nothing, so that my soul be humbled and you exalted as God my Savior!
(1 Corinthians 1:30-31) But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: (31) That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
Oh, for grace to win Christ and to be found in him: not having my own righteousness which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ; the righteousness which is of God by faith (Philippians 3:8-10).
(Philippians 3:10) That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.
Truly, all who are born of God and taught of God, rejoice to confess…
(Romans 5:20) Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: (21) That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
This is my dress,
I’ve none but this:
Christ the Lord my Righteousness!