The past few weeks have been difficult for me. I have been struggling with the Lord over some things in my life, and to be honest, I have been avoiding Him. One of the reasons I have been avoiding Him is because I know what He is asking of me, and my flesh doesn’t want to give it up. My flesh doesn’t want to let go and let Him have total control. In me there is a desire to live a holy and blameless life before my God. But there is also my flesh which tells me to take it easy, I am not doing so badly, I am a “good” Christian. Eventually, I find myself slipping back into the same habits, same attitudes, and same sins all over again. But the Lord has clearly shown me the way that He wants me to live my life, and has very loudly told me that the choice to walk it is up to me.
Through this struggle I have been having, the Lord has been speaking one particular passage of Scripture to me. Every day I hear the same verse playing in my head, and making its way into my heart. But instead of focusing on what He is speaking to me, because I am not ready to let Him have his way with certain things quite yet, I have avoided Him and His Word. I know what He wants, but I just don’t want to do it. But, I also knew that I had to stop fighting and I had to let go. Fighting with the Lord is a losing battle- trust me, I know. Plus, I knew that if I was to have peace in my relationship with Him, I needed to surrender.
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“And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” Romans 13:11-14
As I went back and forth in my struggle with the Lord in regards to these scriptures, a picture came into my mind. When my son was a teenager, getting him out of bed was difficult. Not only did I have to start waking him up thirty minutes before he actually needed to get up, but sometimes I had to take drastic measures and splash water on him, or yell loudly in his ears. In the summertime, it was impossible to get him up. He would rarely get out of bed before 2:00 in the afternoon. Sometimes, he would sleep through the day without even giving it any thought. How many of us are like this in our Christian lives? How many of us are sleeping through the day, and not giving it a moment’s thought?
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Paul tells us that “it is high time to awake out of sleep”. What he is telling us is that many of us are in a spiritual slumber. Our souls are slumbering well past dawn. Paul is referring to conformity of the world that many Christians are living. There are people today who call themselves Christians, they go to church, do all the right things, say all the right things, serve in all the right ministries, but they are asleep. They look like Jesus on Sunday but then conform to the world on Monday. We need to wake up, my brothers and sisters. We need to wake up and realize that the time of our Lord’s return is near. Paul says to us that our salvation, that day of great and final redemption is nearer today than it was yesterday. Do we not realize that today we are one day closer to His return? This thought alone should impact the way we live our lives immediately! If Jesus came back right now, what would He find us doing? What would He find us watching? What would He find us thinking?
We need to cast off the works of darkness, this spiritual slumber that we have fallen into and put on the armor of light. It is time for us as Christians to get up and get moving! The night is past and it is full day. Why are we still sleeping? We were all once living in darkness, living as if there was no light, as if there was no God. But God our Father has awakened us with new light! The Dayspring has come and His return is eminent. It is closer today than it was yesterday. We need to put away these things in our lives that are not pleasing to God our Father. We need to put on the armor that the Lord God has given us so that we can fight this sleepiness and fight the darkness that tries to creep back into our hearts.
We need to walk properly. I hear so many Christians say that they are sinners, and yes, I totally agree with that. We are all sinners in need of a Savior. But Jesus has died and has taken our sins, nailing them to the Cross. As Christians we will sin, but we are supposed to be sinning less as we grow in our relationship with Jesus. We have the Holy Spirit living on the inside of us, yet we take Him to bars to listen to some worldly band that has no desire to know God or to live for God. We take the Holy Spirit with us everywhere, yet we allow Him to listen to the cursing that comes out of our mouths, we allow Him to sit through movies that are vulgar and full of sinful lusts. Do we forget that our God hates sin? Do we forget that where we go, what we do, what we say, what we think may be grieving the Holy Spirit in us? Do we forget that He calls us to live holy lives?
We know the way the Lord wants us to live our lives, because He gave us His word to show us. The choice to walk that way is in us and it is up to us. He shows us the way, gives us everything we need to walk it, but He won’t walk it for us. He will walk with us and give us the power, the equipping, the tools, and even the armor to go, but the choice to go is still ours. Our God is a gentleman; He will not force you to do anything. But He also won’t stay where He is not wanted. So, why then are we not walking this life the way the Lord wants us to walk? It is because we are allowing our flesh to dictate to the Spirit, instead of allowing the Spirit to dictate to our flesh. It is high time we wake up and start living the life God has for us.
Paul tells us lastly to make absolutely no provision for our flesh. He tells us to put on the Lord Jesus Christ and to make no room for our flesh. When we make provision for our flesh, we are putting ourselves in situations that our flesh will feed off of. For instance, those women in the break room, you know that they are going to gossip all through lunch, yet you sit there and listen to it and your flesh gives into it. You had made provision for your flesh. We turn on the television, and a program comes on that we know God would not be pleased with, yet we sit there and watch it, every week. We give our flesh what it wants, and it will take complete control. (Don’t fool yourself- it will control you)
Paul says to make no provision for our flesh. To give something provision means that you give it what it wants. You make room for it; you provide for it, you give your care and attention to its needs and wants. We need to stop giving our flesh what it wants. We cannot allow our flesh to dictate our lives. The only One who has the right to dictate and control you is the One who paid for you, Jesus Christ. We must take our flesh out of the way and put it to death.
Jesus Himself tells us this. He tells us that if our eye causes us to sin, then pluck it out. If our hand causes us to sin then cut it off. (Matthew 18:8-9) I think we have become desensitized to the seriousness of sin in our Christian lives. I think we have gotten this idea that if we sin, we can just confess and God will forgive us. But do we not also remember what Jesus said? He forgave the sin, yes, but He also always said, “Go and sin no more.” Yet, we sin, ask for forgiveness, and then keep going back to the same sins over and over again. We need to get serious about the effect that sin has on our lives. Jesus tells us that it is better to enter the kingdom of heaven blind than not at all. (Matthew 18:8-9)
God is clear in His Word to us about the way He sees sin. He hates sin. The Bible is also clear to us that as children of the Most High God we are to put off the works of darkness, the trappings of sin and we are to walk in newness of life. God calls us to be holy, blameless, unspotted from this world. He calls us to live separate lives. He calls us to live as He has shown us. So why aren’t we? Because, we are sleeping through this Christian life, and unless we wake up and cast off the works of darkness that displease Him, when we finally do wake up into His glorious kingdom, we may find that we don’t get to stay.
We can live holy and blameless lives as Christians. We can. We just have to choose to do the things that Jesus has clearly told us to do. We have the power of God living in us. That same power put to death sin, all the works of unrighteousness, and raised Jesus from the dead. Why do we think He can’t help us depart from sin? So I ask you, why are we still sleeping? We need to wake up, my brothers and sisters. We need to wake up and start living the life the Lord God has for us. We cannot sleep anymore. We must choose to put Him on and allow Him to live through us, giving us the power, the authority and the armor to walk it out. We need to wake up Church and get serious about our sins. Amen?