Click here for the reading: Romans 13:11-14.
The reading from Romans 13 comes in the midst of Paul describing what it means to be a Christian in light of all that was said in the first eleven chapters. Here, however, Paul gives us another reason for living as Christians. The time of the end comes ever closer with each passing day. Why should the nearness of Christ’s return shape our daily lives? How does the season of Advent teach us about this? In the light of a passage like 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, what should we encourage one another to do?
Paul warns us that the hour has already come to wake up from sleep. The day is fast approaching, and the night is almost gone. Why is a danger to be spiritually asleep? How do we fall spiritually asleep? Are there dangers in the present time that threaten to lull us to sleep that former generations did not know? What kind of dangers threaten Christians that do not threaten the world in the same way? Consider Psalm 141 and what it means to call on the Lord in view of the coming dawn.
The central focus of this passage is a call to lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Paul then spells out in specific detail what that means for us, not leaving it up to us to determine for ourselves. What does it mean to walk properly or decently as a Christian? In what ways do Christians fall into the sins which Paul lists? Why is it important to talk about the works of darkness in concrete examples, rather than leaving it up to our imagination? Compare the longer list of the works of the flesh in Galatians 5:19-21. Why do these things prevent us from inheriting the kingdom of God?
Clothe yourself with Christ, Paul says, and make no provision for the flesh. What does Paul mean by the flesh and its desires? What does it mean to make provision for the flesh, especially in the light of Christ’s return? How do we avoid making such provision? What does it mean to put on Christ, especially in terms of resisting evil desires? In Genesis 4:6-7, the Lord warns Cain to resist the sin crouching at his door. How do the negative examples of Scripture teach us about the dangers of evil desire?
Paul immediately follows this section with a long exhortation about bearing with the failings of the weak. We should build one another up and not please ourselves. How is passing a sinful judgment on one another opposed to putting on Christ? Why does Paul call for us to wake up as the body of Christ and not merely to wake up as individuals? Why should we put off even what is legitimate and not please ourselves? Based on 1 Corinthians 8-9, how can we become disqualified in these issues?