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First Sunday in Advent

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First Sunday in Advent

December 3, 2017

Romans 13:11–14             

Grace and mercy to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

It is written, 11 Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. 12The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

Let us pray: Let us pray: Almighty God, grant to Your church Your Holy Spirit and the wisdom that comes down from above, that Your Word may not be bound but have free course and be preached to the joy and edifying of Christ’s holy people, that in steadfast faith, we may serve You and, in the confession of Your name, abide unto the end; in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

The time is Advent.  A time of a mini-Lent.  A time of preparation.  A time to wake up.  For...

2The night is far gone; the day is at hand

The day at hand is the Gospel day.  It is time to wake up from the night of sin.  It is time to like day to day in the Gospel.

To help us, the Lord devotes the office of the holy ministry (the work of a pastor) to two things (Romans 12:7-8), doctrine and exhortation.  The doctrine part is to teach us things that the Lord only reveals in His Holy Bible, faith in Jesus being the most important.  The exhortation part is to encourage us to put into action what we already know very well.  Today’s epistle lesson is exhorting you who are already awake to God by faith in Jesus to begin this new day.

Why? Jesus is near.  Jesus is nearer to us now than when we first believed.

So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.

The armor of light is a beautiful expression.  The armor of light is also a little more specific than telling us to do good works while it is day.  Good works do not save us.  However, good works help us remain in the Gospel day.

The doctrine of justification by faith in Jesus is not to be mingled with the exhortation to do good works; the exhortation to put on the armor of light.

This is an exhortation, not a doctrine.

Put on the armor of light.

Why “armor” of light rather than “works” or light?

Doubtless to teach us that only at the cost of conflict, pain, labor, and danger will the truly watchful and godly life be maintained; for these three powerful enemies, the devil, the world, and the flesh, unceasingly oppose us day and night.  This is why Job (7:1) regards the life of man on earth as a life of trial and warfare.  (Luther sermon).

So, when I exhort you to put on the “armor of light”, I am encouraging you to remain in the Lord’s justification through faith in Jesus.  This is what I am doing this Advent.  Exhorting you, encouraging you, to do good works.

As important as it is to teach justification by faith to those who do not know the teaching, it is just as important to exhort those who know the doctrine not to fall away from their fragile daily living while enduring the assaults of their raging flesh, this subtle world, and the treacherous devil.  So,

13Let us walk properly (honestly) as in the daytime.

What are the common activities you do when you wake up in the morning?  You get cleaned up and go to work or school or something similar.  It is a tragedy and hopefully uncommon to drink a beer first thing in the morning.

What are the common activities that people do when they go out at night?  I remember my folks telling me that nothing good happens after midnight.

The Lord is saying the same thing when he speaks of the deeds of darkness.  Dark deeds such as orgies and drunkenness.  Dark deeds such as sexual immorality and sensuality.  Dark deeds such as quarreling and jealousy.  Dark deeds that are now reported daily of politicians, media elites, and hollywood stars.  

13Let us walk properly (honestly) as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy.

These six terms - orgies, drunkenness, sexual immorality, sensuality, quarreling, and jealousy - cover all the other kinds of dark deeds that could be mentioned such as the lists in Galatians and Colossians.

Let me divide these into two classes.  It will help us receive today’s exhortation.  

I will name one the right hand group and the other the left hand group.  The right hand  group includes orgies, drunkenness, sexual immorality and sensuality.  The left hand group includes quarreling and jealousy.  For Biblically, the right side signifies prosperity with its related evils, whereas the left side signifies adversity along with its results.

Therefore, there are two kinds of darks deeds - prosperity and adversity.  One kind of dark deed stems from prosperity.  Another kind of dark deed stems from adversity.  Depending on your personality and situation you will be tempted by one kind of dark deed more than the other.

14But (as for you) put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, by believing His Gospel.  Put on “faith in Jesus” and you are dressed to live in the Gospel Day.  The Lord Himself writes in Galatians 3:27 that “as many of you as have been baptized into Christ did put on Christ.”  Also, ...

Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, by putting on the armor of light.  Think more highly of your neighbor.  The Lord Himself writes in Ephesians 4 to “to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”

The apostle Paul presents Christ the example in a few words in Colossians 3:12-15 where he says, “Put on … compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

Now the armor of light is the good works opposed to gluttony, drunkenness, licentiousness; to indolence, strife, and envying.  What armor opposes these dark deeds?  The armor of light includes such things as fasting, watchfulness, and prayer.  The armor of light includes such things as a hard day’s work, chastity, modesty, temperance, goodness, endurance of hunger and thirst, endurance of cold and heat. And so as not to use my own words, the Lord says that the armor of light is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, and self control” Galatians 5:22-23.  And He makes an even more detailed account of the armor of light in 2 Corinthians 6:1-10 regarding pastors as an example for the flock.  He writes,

Working together with (the Lord), then, we (the Lord’s apostles) appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 2 For (the Lord) says,

                 “In a favorable time I listened to you,

     and in a (Gospel) day of salvation I have helped you.”

Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the (Gospel) day of salvation. 3 We (the Lord’s apostles) put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, 4 but as servants of God we (the Lord’s apostles and, later, the Lord’s pastors) commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, 5 beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; 6 by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; 7 by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; 8 through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; 9 as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.

What a beautiful account of the armor of light.  What a beautiful account of the good works our Lord encourages us, His children, to put on.  To practice these good works is truly putting on Jesus Christ.

The Christian who can see His master fasting, praying, working, watching, enduring hunger and fatigue and conducts his own behavior in a similar manner, makes no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.  Blessed are you.

To the Christian who can see His master fasting, praying, working, watching, enduring hunger and fatigue while he himself feasts, sleeps, lazes around and lives in luxury - that one must be a scoundrel and has found his repentance on this First Sunday in Advent; in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

The peace of God, which passes understanding, will guard your body and soul in Christ our Savior.  Amen.