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.
The Characteristics of Christian Behaviour
(i) The Brevity of Time
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. 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. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.
We must marvel at the wisdom of Paul as he brought his challenge regarding Christian Behaviour to a stirring conclusion. His focus is clearly upon time as he writes about night and day, light and darkness. In bringing us face to face with time the Apostle is encouraging appropriate behaviour because we have little time in which to live for God, to surrender our bodies, to exercise renewed minds and utilise the gifts of grace with which we have been endowed. While time is short for unbelievers it is expiring for Christians also.
1: The Awareness of the Brevity of Time
Paul teaches that we need to know the time. This refers to the present time; the age in which we live. What is it that we need to know about time?
– That we live in an evil world (Galatians 1:4).
– That this the time of Gospel Invitation (Acts 1:6-8).
– That time must be redeemed (Ephesians 5:16).
That the day of salvation is nearer than when we first believed. This salvation refers to our final deliverance, the resurrection of the body which will occur when our Lord returns. Our time here will either end when we die or when our Lord returns. Either way our work is quickly drawing to a conclusion. Are we prepared to give account (1 Corinthians 3:11-15, 2 Corinthians 5:10)? Will we receive the well done of God (Matthew 25:23)?
2: The Attitude to the Brevity of Time
Paul was describing Christians in Rome as being asleep. They were sleeping their way to the Judgement Seat of Christ. As a result of worldliness, carnality and apathy they were living in spiritual dreamland. Paul blows the trumpet and tells us to waken up because our time here is limited.
In v12-14 Paul likens the return of Christ and the eternal state of the Church to the day. In this evil world we are currently living in the night. Yet the night of sin is drawing to an end. The dawn will shortly break and Jesus Christ will return. As we live the night, however, we are not to be characterised by the darkness of society. Rather we must wear the “armour of light”. Yet Christians often bear the characteristics of the darkness; described by Paul as the “works of darkness” which must be repented of. These works of darkness are described with three phrases:
“rioting and drunkenness” – Foolishness associated with alcohol.
“chambering and wantoness” – sexual immorality.
“strife and envying” – discord among Christians.
God’s Word never presents a negative without presenting the positive. How do we cast off these works of darkness? – by dressing up in “the armour of light.” This armour is the Lord Jesus Christ whom we must put on. The armour of light is intended to shine in a dark and sinister world. It is God’s will that Christ shines through the living testimonies of Christians. We put off sin by putting on Christ. How do we put on Christ?
Through gratitude (1 Corinthians 15:10).
By using his life as our example (1 Peter 2:21).
By following his teaching and that of his apostles.
Such is the brevity of time we are called to wear the light of Christ lest we be like the foolish virgins who were asleep when the Bridegroom arrived.