“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. (Romans 13:11-12)
Our lives revolve around time. We have a time to get up, a time to be at work or school, a time for lunch, and a time to go home. Our lives are governed by time. Solomon acknowledged this when he penned Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, that great passage regarding time. And in our text for today, Paul used the phrase, “knowing the time.” So, for a few minutes, let’s assess the ages as Paul presents them to us in this passage.
First, Paul speaks about the Current Age – “the night is far spent.”
This is Paul’s description of this present age. He refers to it as “night.” What is night? It is the time when the sun has departed. Over 2,000 years ago, the Son came to this world, but He was rejected and crucified. Jesus Himself said, “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). And so, the Son departed, and it is night. What are some characteristics of the night?
The night is characterized by shadows for it is a time of darkness. This is an hour of darkness. The shadows of societal darkness surround us. Shadows of hatred, strife, murder, theft, deceit, and rebellion hover over us. But it is also a time of spiritual darkness. Ignorance of God’s Word, ambivalence concerning spiritual activities, neglect of the house of God, and indifference to the approach of eternity all reveal the depth of spiritual darkness in which we reside.
The night is characterized by sin. Much of what is evil takes place under the cover of darkness. “Every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved” (John 3:20).
The night is characterized by sleep. It is a time for relaxation and rest. That’s where many Christians are today, sleeping away the night, slumbering instead of serving, spending their lives in restful repose while the surrounding world races toward a Christless eternity.
Paul also directs our attention to another time—the Coming Age – “the day is at hand.”
What is day? It is the time when the sun returns! And the good news is that the day is at hand! The Son will soon make His reappearance! What are some characteristics of the day?
The day is characterized by radiance as the sun returns and light fills the sky. Soon the Son will return, and “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all” (I John 1:5). Light and darkness cannot coexist. When the Son returns, darkness will flee away.
The day is characterized by revelation. The light reveals what has transpired under cover of darkness. “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts” (I Corinthians 4:5). The hour is coming when the truth shall be revealed. The secret things, the subtle things, the sinful things, the shameful things; all will be brought to light when the Son reappears.
The day is characterized by responsibility. Not only will all things be revealed, but accountability will be required. “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12).
Knowing all of this, Paul reminds of the Crucial Age – “now it is high time.”
Now is the important hour; this is the essential time. What shall we do in this crucial hour?
It is time to wake up. “It is high time to awake out of sleep.” We must be moved from our state of inactivity, unconcern, and unawareness to a place of activity and busyness for the Lord.
It is time to clean up. “Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness.” Let us clean up our lives by getting rid of the bitterness, greed, lust, selfishness, gossip, and a thousand other sins which are the works of darkness.
It is time to dress up. “Let us put on the armour of light.” Ephesians 6:10-18 instructs us as to the armour of God with which we must be clad to stand strong in this hour of darkness.
It is time to grow up. In verse 13 Paul tells us to “walk honestly, as in the day.” That is, let’s grow up and walk in this current age as if we are already in the coming age. “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ” (vs. 14). Let the light of Christ be reflected in our lives for “ye are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14).
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Bro. Burcham served as the Chairman of the Bible Department at Golden State Baptist College before answering the call to pastor the Mountain Vista Baptist Church in Sierra Vista, AZ. Pastor Burcham travels each week to teach the next generation at GSBC. Before coming to GSBC, he served as a missionary with his family in Japan for several years and then pastored in Missouri.