Living in the Light of Day
“The 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….But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”- Romans 13:12–14
Become what you already are nicely encapsulates much of what Scripture teaches about sanctification, our growth in holiness and conformity to Christ. Unlike non-Christian religions that demand that we clean ourselves up before God will accept us, the biblical writers teach that in accepting us, the Lord makes us clean. We do not have to clean up our act before God will receive us into His kingdom, a cleaning we cannot accomplish anyway (Rom. 3:9-20). The Lord receives us as His people immediately when we turn from sin and put our faith in Christ alone (Gal. 2:15-16). At that point, our eternal inheritance is secure. We do not have to add good works to our faith before God will make His final declaration of righteousness; He declares us righteous immediately and permanently based on His Son’s perfection. We will do good works, for they inevitably flow from those who trust in Christ, but our good works do not earn our justification (Eph. 2:8-10; James 2:14-26).
At the same time God justifies us, He also definitively sets us apart as holy. We are made saints, as seen in how the Apostle Paul uses this designation throughout his epistles even for “average” believers, and in Paul’s teaching that we are sanctified in Christ Jesus at conversion (1 Cor. 6:11). The entire process of sanctification actually involves living out in practice the holiness that is already ours positionally because the Lord has set us apart.
Yet as one commentator says, we should also look at sanctification as the process of becoming what we will be in glory. This is the point of today’s passage, wherein Paul calls us to walk in the light of the day of glorification that is at hand but not yet here (Rom. 13:12-14). We are living at the dawn of the new day, a time in which the faint glow of the sun shines on the horizon. Just as that glow is the sure sign that day is coming and cannot be stopped, the death and resurrection of Jesus is the certain confirmation of our final glorification (Rom. 8:11; 1 Cor. 15:20). But the day in which we are perfected and sinless is not here yet.
Since the day is about to dawn in all its brightness and glory, we cannot stay in the dark. It is time to get up, to start doing those things that we will do perfectly in the daytime, which means living in holiness and saying no to our former way of living (Rom. 13:12-14). We must make no provision for the flesh, for this era of sin and death is not our true home. Our vocation consists in putting on Christ and in doing what pleases Him by the power of His Spirit, for we reside in the kingdom of light that is breaking into this fallen world.
Jerome, one of the most important biblical scholars of the ancient church, comments on today’s passage that we are to “live our lives in the same way now as we are going to live in the day, that is, in the future world.” Our lives should not mirror those who have no hope and are trapped in the darkness; rather, we are to live as citizens of the kingdom to which we belong, the kingdom of light for which the Lord is preparing us by His Holy Spirit.
Passages for Further Study
1 Peter 4:1–11