MARTIN CHEMNITZ PRESS
A MIGHTY FORTRESS LUTHERAN CHURCH
Pastor Gregory L. Jackson, Ph.D.
6421 W. Poinsettia Drive
Saturday, November 27, 1999
KJV Romans 13:11 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. 12 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. 13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. 14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.
WEARING YOUR BAPTISMAL ROBE
In this Epistle we have a vivid lesson, an exhortation. As Luther commented, the work of a minister is two-fold, teaching doctrine and exhorting. The doctrinal part of his work concerns what God has done and revealed to us. Exhortation is urging people to act upon what they know is true from the Scriptures.
The comparison in this passage is perfect for our day. Our pagan society is asleep, and yet the coming of Christ is closer than ever before. Darkness and sleep are characterized by: dullness to the point of not knowing what is happening around us; inability to see clearly what is happening; and dreaming things or seeing things which are not true. How many of us have dreamed that we got up, got dressed, and were ready to go to work, only to realize with a start that the covers were still over us?
In this passage the Holy Spirit urges us through the apostle to cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. The verbs used are typical for dressing. They are used specifically for dressing, but also symbolically for how we live.
KJV Ephesians 6:11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
KJV Colossians 3:12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;
KJV Ephesians 4:22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
KJV Ephesians 6:14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
KJV Colossians 3:9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; 10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: 11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.
KJV 1 Thessalonians 5:8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.
KJV Luke 24:49 And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.
KJV 1 Corinthians 15:54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
KJV Matthew 6:25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
KJV Mark 15:17 And they clothed him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns, and put it about his head,
KJV Acts 12:21 And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them.
KJV Mark 6:9 But be shod with sandals; and not put on two coats.
The works of darkness are clearly described. They include carousing, drunkenness, all forms of immorality, strife and envy. No matter what people say to excuse themselves, they do not fall into gross, carnal sins unless they allow themselves to be surrounded by those influences. Someone who gambles away his paycheck should never drive himself to a casino. (And I wonder about the sanity of congregations that organize casino trips or offer gambling in their own churches as means to raise money. Many people can resist the urge to throw money away, but organized religious gambling is a fine way to trip up a person weak in that area—in the name of helping the church.)
In each area covered by the list, which is meant to be general, people have the freedom to avoid the environment leading to the sin. Therefore, we are to “cast off” the works of darkness, the way we kick off muddy shoes from the garden, or oily work clothes. One man stayed after work to smoke marijuana with his friends, then wondered why his wife was angry with him when he got home, hours late, smelling like burnt rope. I said, “Dump your so-called friends. They are not helping you.” He was clearly torn. He knew he would be made fun of if he simply went home from work. In fact, I offered him a few examples of the mocking of his so-called friends—whom I never had the pleasure to meet—and I was correct. He had to cast them off, like dirty socks.
In a few words, we not only have Law—cast off the works of darkness, but also Gospel—put on the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle does not exhort us to put on good works. The normal, wrong version would be: I got rid of the bad habits; now I am a good person who volunteers in my community. Or consider this defense, which I have heard many times: “He is not a false teacher. He’s a nice guy!”
Someone pointed out to me that the wording of “putting on” Christ, a parallel with putting on the armor of light, could be seen as a reminder of the baptismal robe worn by people baptized as adults. Whether this is exactly true or not, we know from many passages that Paul often called to mind the baptism of his audience.
The Holy Spirit uses the image of clothing, and we know how different clothing makes us feel. For instance, although we often talk about how free and flexible we are, we still fret about having the right clothing for an event. Most people want to be suitably dressed. Many types of clothing are unique for that occasion and never look right anywhere else. For instance, a wedding dress is fine for a wedding but not for any other event. White robes are fine for graduation and confirmation but nothing else.
The only appropriate clothing for a Christian is the righteousness of Christ. In this regard we have our baptism as a sure and certain promise of God’s forgiveness, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and the presence of Christ in our daily lives.
When we speak about the Means of Grace, we include the Word, and the sacraments of baptism and holy communion. We need to hear the Word of God all our lives. Communion should never be neglected by Christians. But baptism is a Means of Grace that is given to us once for our entire lives. Many Christians take baptism for granted, but we should not. It is not our work but God’s work.
I was first baptized in a Congregational church. They see baptism as symbolic. They deny that God plants faith in the hearts of infants through the Word connected with the water of baptism. Later we attended a Disciples of Christ congregation. They did not recognize any baptism except immersion, so everyone had to be immersed. They also saw baptism as symbolic, an act of man, but it had to be done right. (Lenski has observed that they only people immersed in the Bible were the ones lost in the Flood.)
All the language about baptism in the New Testament suggests divine activity. Baptism is washing, rebirth.
KJV Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; 7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
KJV Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
KJV Acts 22:16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.
KJV 1 Corinthians 6:10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
KJV Hebrews 10:22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
KJV Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
KJV 1 Peter 3:20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. 21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: 22 Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.
KJV Colossians 2:12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.
BYZ Colossians 2:12 suntafe,ntej auvtw/| evn tw/| bapti,smati( evn w-| kai. sunhge,rqhte dia. th/j pi,stewj th/j evnergei,aj tou/ qeou/ tou/ evgei,rantoj auvto.n evk tw/n nekrw/n\
KJV Hebrews 9:10 Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.
BYZ Hebrews 9:10 mo,non evpi. brw,masin kai. po,masin kai. diafo,roij baptismoi/j kai. dikaiw,masin sarko.j me,cri kairou/ diorqw,sewj evpikei,mena
KJV Mark 7:4 And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables.
BYZ Mark 7:4 kai. avpo, avgora/j eva.n mh. bapti,swntai ouvk evsqi,ousin kai. a;lla polla, evstin a] pare,labon kratei/n baptismou.j pothri,wn kai. xestw/n kai. calki,wn kai. klinw/n
These passages all teach us that God has acted upon us through the Word in baptism and continues His miraculous activity throughout our lives. Although someone may fall into the worst of sins, he can still return to his baptism as the source of his comfort. God has pledged Himself to us through baptism. Our comfort comes from what He has done in Christ and not from our promises to be better.
The armor of light protects us from the works of darkness. In our daily struggles, the Gospel moves us