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Put On The Armor of Light!

THE ARMOR OF GOD - PUT IT ON!  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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The importance of reflecting the image of God in holiness

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INTRODUCTION

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Romans 13:11–14 NIV
And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.
Ephesians 4:22–24 NIV
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Romans 13:11–14 NIV
And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.
Everyone likes to get new clothes!
Often we get new clothes for special reason or occasion, which means they must be appropriate or suitable! You don't buy khaki shorts for a black tie dinner, and you don't rent a tux to go swimming at the beach! We instinctively know what we need to wear for each occasion or event... with the possible exception of some people who shop at Wal-Mart! Even children have a sense of it!
Paul makes a statement in , that we should put on the armor of light.
But what does that actually mean?
Paul makes a statement in , that we should put on the armor of light. But what does that actually mean? Paul has been giving some last minute exhortations, along the lines of the principles he has been writing about in his letter. In chapters 13 and 14 he addresses something that has been underlying the letter, the relationship between the Jewish believers in Christ, and the Gentiles believers in Christ. The two have come from different backgrounds into the church, and their respective background cultures and world views had potential to cause problems, and create tension. The strict Jewish food scruples might prove challenging to Gentiles, and the sorts of foods Gentiles ate might create an ethical dilemma to Jews whenever they ate together. As believers in Christ they needed to learn how to get along, how to love one another enough to not cause offense or undermine the faith and discipleship of the other. It was hard for the one group to appreciate the sensitivities of the other. There might be a tendency for the Gentiles to feel like their Jewish brethren were making to big a deal of some things, and for the Jewish believers to feel like their Gentile brethren were far too ethically lax about important matters of righteousness (cf. ). So Paul told them that they were to love one another, and seek not to cause offense to the other, either by being too strict or too lax about issues like clean and unclean food, which is a personal matter of conviction. The important thing is, Paul says, that we are fully awake, understanding the times we live in, and the importance of laying aside the old life, while fully embracing the new life we have in Christ. The ethical squabbles are unimportant, what is important is living as a true and sanctified disciple of Christ. This means that whether you are a Jewish believer in Christ or a Gentile one, the whole world will notice how different you are, see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven (cf. ).
Paul has been giving some last minute exhortations, along the lines of the principles he has been writing about in his letter. In chapters 13 and 14 he addresses something that has been underlying the letter, the relationship between the Jewish believers in Christ, and the Gentiles believers in Christ. The two have come from different backgrounds into the church, and their respective background cultures and world views had potential to cause problems, and create tension. The strict Jewish food scruples might prove challenging to Gentiles, and the sorts of foods Gentiles ate might create an ethical dilemma to Jews whenever they ate together. As believers in Christ they needed to learn how to get along, how to love one another enough to not cause offense or undermine the faith and discipleship of the other. It was hard for the one group to appreciate the sensitivities of the other. There might be a tendency for the Gentiles to feel like their Jewish brethren were making to big a deal of some things, and for the Jewish believers to feel like their Gentile brethren were far too ethically lax about important matters of righteousness (cf. ). So Paul told them that they were to love one another, and seek not to cause offense to the other, either by being too strict or too lax about issues like clean and unclean food, which is a personal matter of conviction.
The important thing is, Paul says, that we are fully awake, understanding the times we live in, and the importance of laying aside the old life, while fully embracing the new life we have in Christ.
The ethical squabbles are unimportant, what is important is living as a true and sanctified disciple of Christ. This means that whether you are a Jewish believer in Christ or a Gentile one, the whole world will notice how different you are, see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven (cf. ).
He warns his readers not to squabble over non essentials, and to love one another… The really important thing is how we live and reflect the holiness of God!
Paul's first instruction is for his readers to understand the present time () (NIV).
We might say more smoothly, they are to understand that it is already time for them to arise out of sleep, and realize that the hour of their final redemption is closer than when they originally believed and were saved ()! The point Paul makes is that water has gone under the bridge since they first trusted in Christ, meaning that with the passage of time, they are closer to the return of Christ. At his return, as he argued in chapter 8, their will be a redeeming of all creation, and a redemption of their physical bodies, when the saints are finally revealed, for what they are, the true sons of God! They are covert in the world right now, but they will be brought out into the full light of day, at which time all of creation will rejoice at the redemptive plan of God ()!
They were created to reflect the glory of the creator into his creation, and to represent him as kings and priests… and now all of creation is waiting for the revelation of the sons of God in their glory, conformed to the image of Christ (, ).
The time for dullness and inactivity is past. That was characteristic of their previous life before they came to know Christ, when they had no sense of the purposes of God and no knowledge of his plans to bring everything under his control in Christ (). Mankind has always ben part of something big, but since the advent of sin, largely unaware of the significance of his existence. This state of 'sleep' or slumber, being unaware and unconcerned about the big picture or the big questions concerning our existence and if there is meaning for us in this world is common among those who do not know Christ. But there is no excuse for the Christian to be in a stupor, not living the fully transformed life ()! And this is the point Paul seeks to make in , and now here in chapter 13.

DEVELOPMENT

1. Don’t Be Caught Napping!

The time for dullness and inactivity is past. That was characteristic of their previous life before they came to know Christ, when they had no sense of the purposes of God and no knowledge of his plans to bring everything under his control in Christ (). Mankind has always ben part of something big, but since the advent of sin, largely unaware of the significance of his existence. This state of 'sleep' or slumber, being unaware and unconcerned about the big picture or the big questions concerning our existence and if there is meaning for us in this world is common among those who do not know Christ. But there is no excuse for the Christian to be in a stupor, not living the fully transformed life ()! And this is the point Paul seeks to make in , and now here in chapter 13. They must lay aside the old life, with all of its fleshly and selfish desires (). The point is that the old life has been forsaken, and to allow elements of the old life to dominate them without confronting them and having them crucified through the transforming power of God in Christ is to be sleeping, is to be half awake and not realizing that the day of redemption may come and surprise us all with its swift and unannounced arrival. They do not want to be caught living under the power of the flesh, habitually gratifying its desires, when Christ arrives to bring adoption to the bodies of those who are the sons of God, led by the Spirit, in true holiness and righteousness (). The point is to be lazy about their lives and obligations to the transformed life is to be asleep at a critical time, and liable to a big surprise, a terrible upset!

A. They must lay aside the old life, with all of its fleshly and selfish desires ().

The point is that the old life has been forsaken...
and to allow elements of the old life to dominate them without confronting them and having them crucified through the transforming power of God in Christ is to be sleeping, is to be half awake and not realizing that the day of redemption may come and surprise us all with its swift and unannounced arrival. They do not want to be caught living under the power of the flesh, habitually gratifying its desires, when Christ arrives to bring adoption to the bodies of those who are the sons of God, led by the Spirit, in true holiness and righteousness (). The point is to be lazy about their lives and obligations to the transformed life is to be asleep at a critical time, and liable to a big surprise, a terrible upset!

b. They do not want to find themselves surprised at Jesus coming, still living in the grip of the old life!

In verses 12-13 Paul lists a few of the characteristics of the old life, that if still operative in the life of believer, are evidences of dullness toward God, toward holiness and toward the imminent danger of being caught out should Christ suddenly return for the 'sons of God' who are being led by the Spirit. After all it is those who are led by the Spirit are the true sons of God, others live in slavery to the flesh (; ). Make no mistake, Paul argues in , habitual sin, even for the believer, will only lead to death (, ). It is wilful, wistful ignorance to ignore such a warning; it is slumber!

2. Don’t Be Caught Badly Dressed!

A. Paul warns them to put on the armor of light, which he then goes on to explains means to be clothed with Christ (, ).

The same word root is used for putting on the armor of light and being clothed with Christ. They are the same thing.

B. Armor is the word for weapons (plural), and we can paraphrase...take up the weapons of light.

The same word root is used for putting on the armor of light and being clothed with Christ. They are the same thing. The term translated armor is the word for weapons (plural), and we can paraphrase Paul's remark hear by say, that he encourages his readers to take up the weapons of light. In , the armor of God is the panoply, the full armor, of which the weapons are representative. Paul appears to use metonymy in Romans, whereby the weapons stand for the soldier's armor. The emphasis may well be on the idea that since there are works of darkness to be laid aside, and of light to be embraced, at times it could involve a battle. These are specifically weapons for warfare or battle, as opposed to tools in general (Arndt, William, Frederick W. Danker, and Walter Bauer. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000, 716). And the emphasis is on being prepared for the fight, so that you are not caught off-guard. The works of darkness and temptation are not to catch us unprepared or unarmed! In that case, it is important for the believer to be properly armed in order to defend himself against the encroachment of sin (). The genitive, of light, appears to be objective. That is to say, they are to arm themselves with light, or in this context works of righteousness, the opposite of the works of darkness, which they are to shun. So to put on the armor of light is to do precisely the opposite with the works of darkness - they are to be put off, which is to shun them, put off, lay them aside; they are to be rejected. That these works of light are implied to be weapons or armor, means that by engaging righteousness the believer is able to exercise power over the imprisoning power of sin and evil, and because they consist of light, they become a testimony to others about the the righteousness and grace of God. The whole idea of laying aside indecent behavior is to stake out the grounds on which they are different than the people around them, because of their knowledge of Christ. There is a moral and qualitative difference how believers live, as compared to those around them, that shows up as light, or that is a reflection of the light of the holiness of God. This moral difference is both an evidence and a defence against sin and gratifying the desires of the flesh. If they are engaged in pursuing righteousness, through the Spirit, sin will find no room into which it might insert or entrench itself (cf. ; ). To engage the armor of light, Paul's readers are to walk in the Spirit, or to follow his leading, to surrender to the influence of his indwelling presence, whereby the power of the flesh that once controlled the moral landscape is broken ().
In , the armor of God is the panoply, the full armor, of which the weapons are representative. Paul appears to use metonymy in Romans, whereby the weapons stand for the soldier's armor. The emphasis may well be on the idea that since there are works of darkness to be laid aside, and of light to be embraced, at times it could involve a battle. These are specifically weapons for warfare or battle, as opposed to tools in general (Arndt, William, Frederick W. Danker, and Walter Bauer. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000, 716).
The term translated armor is the word for weapons (plural), and we can paraphrase Paul's remark hear by say, that he encourages his readers to take up the weapons of light. In , the armor of God is the panoply, the full armor, of which the weapons are representative. Paul appears to use metonymy in Romans, whereby the weapons stand for the soldier's armor. The emphasis may well be on the idea that since there are works of darkness to be laid aside, and of light to be embraced, at times it could involve a battle. These are specifically weapons for warfare or battle, as opposed to tools in general (Arndt, William, Frederick W. Danker, and Walter Bauer. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000, 716). And the emphasis is on being prepared for the fight, so that you are not caught off-guard. The works of darkness and temptation are not to catch us unprepared or unarmed! In that case, it is important for the believer to be properly armed in order to defend himself against the encroachment of sin (). The genitive, of light, appears to be objective. That is to say, they are to arm themselves with light, or in this context works of righteousness, the opposite of the works of darkness, which they are to shun. So to put on the armor of light is to do precisely the opposite with the works of darkness - they are to be put off, which is to shun them, put off, lay them aside; they are to be rejected. That these works of light are implied to be weapons or armor, means that by engaging righteousness the believer is able to exercise power over the imprisoning power of sin and evil, and because they consist of light, they become a testimony to others about the the righteousness and grace of God. The whole idea of laying aside indecent behavior is to stake out the grounds on which they are different than the people around them, because of their knowledge of Christ. There is a moral and qualitative difference how believers live, as compared to those around them, that shows up as light, or that is a reflection of the light of the holiness of God. This moral difference is both an evidence and a defence against sin and gratifying the desires of the flesh. If they are engaged in pursuing righteousness, through the Spirit, sin will find no room into which it might insert or entrench itself (cf. ; ). To engage the armor of light, Paul's readers are to walk in the Spirit, or to follow his leading, to surrender to the influence of his indwelling presence, whereby the power of the flesh that once controlled the moral landscape is broken ().

C. And the emphasis is on being prepared for the fight, so that you are not caught off-guard.

And the emphasis is on being prepared for the fight, so that you are not caught off-guard.
The works of darkness and temptation are not to catch us unprepared or unarmed!

D. The armor of light means to be armed with works of righteousness against the a resurgence of the works of darkness (Rom. 13:14)

In that case, it is important for the believer to be properly armed in order to defend himself against the encroachment of sin (). The genitive, of light, appears to be objective. That is to say, they are to arm themselves with light, or in this context works of righteousness, the opposite of the works of darkness, which they are to shun. So to put on the armor of light is to do precisely the opposite with the works of darkness - they are to be put off, which is to shun them, put off, lay them aside; they are to be rejected. That these works of light are implied to be weapons or armor, means that by engaging righteousness the believer is able to exercise power over the imprisoning power of sin and evil, and because they consist of light, they become a testimony to others about the the righteousness and grace of God. The whole idea of laying aside indecent behavior is to stake out the grounds on which they are different than the people around them, because of their knowledge of Christ. There is a moral and qualitative difference how believers live, as compared to those around them, that shows up as light, or that is a reflection of the light of the holiness of God. This moral difference is both an evidence and a defence against sin and gratifying the desires of the flesh.
If they are engaged in pursuing righteousness, through the Spirit, sin will find no room into which it might insert or entrench itself (cf. ; ).
To engage the armor of light, Paul's readers are to walk in the Spirit, or to follow his leading, to surrender to the influence of his indwelling presence, whereby the power of the flesh that once controlled the moral landscape is broken ().
Note that the putting on of the armor of light, the clothing oneself in Christ involves a prior putting off the deeds of darkness, followed by a refusal to allow oneself to contemplate how one might engage the desires of the flesh. This is typically Pauline. There is something to be abandoned, put off, and there is something to be taken up, or put on. The metaphor of taking off and put on are clothing pictures, whereby one outfit, which is not suitable or desirable is replaced by something that is entirely suitable or desirable! For Paul the matter of ethics and morality was that simple. The habitual behaviors and lifestyles of the previous life must be utterly renounced and laid aside as a matter of faith and engagement of a resolute will. Furthermore, the life of righteousness must be engaged with equal faith and determination. The difference between lay aside the old life and adopting the new life in Pauline theology is that the new life, the life of righteousness, is engaged by surrender to the Spirit - by walking in the Spirit, by being led by the Spirit, by keeping oneself in step with the Spirit, by ongoing surrender to his leading and influence (, ; , ). Whereas the old life was controlled by an almost involuntary surrender to flesh and its desires, the new life is characterized by a calculated and deliberate surrender to God through the Spirit, one that is both decisive and ongoing. It is this surrendering to God and refusal to surrender to the desires of the flesh that constitute the putting off and putting on, or the clothing oneself in Christ, or the armor of light! Paul is, calling on his readers to make a deliberative and purposeful decision to reject the old life in total and to embrace Christ just a wholly, and then to walk it out in daily living, in the details of their mundane and ordinary experiences.
Note that the putting on of the armor of light, the clothing oneself in Christ involves a prior putting off the deeds of darkness, followed by a refusal to allow oneself to contemplate how one might engage the desires of the flesh. This is typically Pauline. There is something to be abandoned, put off, and there is something to be taken up, or put on. The metaphor of taking off and put on are clothing pictures, whereby one outfit, which is not suitable or desirable is replaced by something that is entirely suitable or desirable! For Paul the matter of ethics and morality was that simple. The habitual behaviors and lifestyles of the previous life must be utterly renounced and laid aside as a matter of faith and engagement of a resolute will. Furthermore, the life of righteousness must be engaged with equal faith and determination. The difference between lay aside the old life and adopting the new life in Pauline theology is that the new life, the life of righteousness, is engaged by surrender to the Spirit - by walking in the Spirit, by being led by the Spirit, by keeping oneself in step with the Spirit, by ongoing surrender to his leading and influence (, ; , ). Whereas the old life was controlled by an almost involuntary surrender to flesh and its desires, the new life is characterized by a calculated and deliberate surrender to God through the Spirit, one that is both decisive and ongoing. It is this surrendering to God and refusal to surrender to the desires of the flesh that constitute the putting off and putting on, or the clothing oneself in Christ, or the armor of light! Paul is, calling on his readers to make a deliberative and purposeful decision to reject the old life in total and to embrace Christ just a wholly, and then to walk it out in daily living, in the details of their mundane and ordinary experiences.
Two things become abundantly clear. First, without a decisive moment of rejection and adoption, holiness and righteousness remain elusive. Where the desires of the flesh rule, or have not been ruled out, no holiness is possible (cf. ; ; , ). Secondly, without adopting an attitude of surrender to the Spirit, of following his lead and daily keeping in step with his leading, the enterprise for holiness will fail (, ; , ). It cannot be achieved through adherence to law or rule keeping, where the flesh still rules (). Until the decisive moment of commitment has occured, holiness is impossible (). So they must put off the old life and clothe themselves in the armor of light, or put on Christ. There must be a conscious and deliberate rejecting of the old life and an embracing of the new life in Christ through the Spirit.
Two things become abundantly clear. First, without a decisive moment of rejection and adoption, holiness and righteousness remain elusive. Where the desires of the flesh rule, or have not been ruled out, no holiness is possible (cf. ; ; , ). Secondly, without adopting an attitude of surrender to the Spirit, of following his lead and daily keeping in step with his leading, the enterprise for holiness will fail (, ; , ). It cannot be achieved through adherence to law or rule keeping, where the flesh still rules (). Until the decisive moment of commitment has occured, holiness is impossible (). So they must put off the old life and clothe themselves in the armor of light, or put on Christ. There must be a conscious and deliberate rejecting of the old life and an embracing of the new life in Christ through the Spirit.

3. Don’t Forget To Get Dressed!

A. Paul more fully describes the newly transformed life in Christ as the new self ().

The new self is different from the old self, in that the latter operates according to attitudes and works of the flesh, or the moral dictates of fallen human desire, realized as conduct that is considered sinful or wicked by God. Such a lifestyle is corrupted, that is to day, it is harmful, capable of bringing the whole living enterprise to ruin and to moral and spiritual failure before God (death) (Arndt, William, Frederick W. Danker, and Walter Bauer. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000, 1054).

B. The former life is the cause of moral and spiritual deterioration, culminating in eternal ruin, and it must be laid aside.

This is why Paul is so keen in his great moral treatises to condemn habitual sinning (cf. ). Habitual sinning has a corrupting effect, that will eventually destroy everything it touches. In Paul warns the Roman believers that if they engage in habitual sinning, it will eventually lead to death, despite claims to a previous experience of justification, and superlative grace (cf. ). The believer in Christ must lay it aside. There is no such thing as making provision for inevitable sin, as though it is axiomatic that we cannot avoid it.

C. Instead Paul says, they should fully embrace and commit themselves to the new self

Which on account of Christ has been created in true holiness and righteousness, that reflects God's ().
We cannot, with the many in some places say, we sin every day in word thought and deed, as though such a thing is trivial or the price of doing business with the kingdom of God. It is not! This much Paul makes abundantly clear.
To put on the armor of light, is to deliberately and consciously, with resolution, embrace the new self, and every moral implication that flows out of this recreation by God through salvation.

CONCLUSION

This bring us full circle, the fact that if we fully embrace the new life, as armor of light it will reflect the holiness and righteousness of its creator, of our creator.
It is God purpose that we should be like him and reflect his glory into this world (; , ; ).
The goal is to be like him (), to be sons of God revealed as reflecting his image back into creation, and creations worship back to God. We are to be kings and priests in creation, ruling, reflecting and bringing tribute and worship to God, and to do so in acknowledgement and in the full clothing of the splendor of his holiness (; )
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