Devotion: Romans 13:13-14

I have been getting the BeBroken Purity Devotions, and the first one was on Romans 13:13-14.

Romans 13:13-14 (NASB) states,

13 Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy.
14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.

To be fair to BeBroken Ministries, here is what they wrote (emphasis mine):

We are told to live upright lives. We are told to clothe ourselves in the lordship of Jesus. Finally, we are told to stop putting the focus on “satisfying our sinful self.”

Today’s choices are:

  1. a full day of walking in uprightness under the lordship of Jesus, or
  2. spending part of the day feeding your sexual appetite [under the influence of our flesh].

Talk to God. What do you want to say to Him about the challenges ahead of you today? Write down some thoughts in a journal…

This is great and simple. However, I wanted to add a few things. First there are 2 positive commands and one negative command. Simply, we are to:

  1. Behave properly (13a)
  2. Put on the Lord Jesus Christ (14a)
  3. Make no provision for the flesh (14b)

The first positive command is to behave properly. This is defined in two ways.

  1. It is defined as acting out in the daytime (NIV). It is how we would act around other n0rmal people. It is how we would act in front of our pastors or those we respect and those whom we want to admire/respect us. It is behaving properly. However, it is more than that! If we read the previous two verses, (“11 Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. 12 The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.”), we see that “the day” refers to the day of the coming of our Lord Jesus. So whether you believe in a pre-tribulation/post-tribulation rapture, the point is this: behave properly. Behave as you would knowing that Jesus would appear now. Or now. Or now. Literally, the text reads “walk properly.” Elsewhere, Paul writes that we should “walk worthy” or “behave in a manner worthy” (“walk” is an idiom for behaving; cf. Eph 4:1; cf. Col 1:10; 1 Th 2:12). The adverb “properly” only appears here and 1 Cor 14:14 (“But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner.”) in reference to the exercise of spiritual gifts “in church” and 1 Thess 4:12 (“so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need.”) while the adjective/noun form appears elsewhere in 1 Corinthians (7:35; 12:23-24). In other words, we should behave like Christians. We should behave as we would in the light (cf. 1 John 1).
  2. It is defined by what it is NOT. Here Paul gives us 6 concrete examples (in 3 pairs) of what it is not. It is not, in case there was any question, carousing (NASB)/orgies(NIV), drunkenness, sexual promiscuity, sexual sensuality, strife, and jealousy. Out of the 6 words used, 1 pair refers to sexual infidelity/immorality. Simply, they are:
    • Inappropriate use of drink
    • Inappropriate use of sex
    • Inappropriate use of control and attention

    Both alcoholism and sexual addiction breed strife and jealousy within the addict, and for the addict strife and jealous can be triggers that lead to acting out in one’s sin of choice. Instead of simply not doing these things, we are to clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, the second positive command.

The second positive command is to put on the Lord Jesus Christ. To really get the power of this verse, we need to look up to the previous verse again. Romans 13:12 writes, “The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” This armor of light is clothing ourselves in the Lord Jesus Christ. And we need to see it as such: armor. Elsewhere, in Galatians 3:27, Paul speaks as though we have already put on the Lord Jesus Christ. To the Galatians, Paul writes, “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed [or put on, same word] yourselves with Christ.” So at the moment of conversion or belief, we put on Jesus Christ once and for all. We are so identified with Jesus Christ that we wear Him. So here in Romans 13:14, we are to put on Jesus Christ. Did we take Him off? Can we take Him off? I am not sure. But I do know that we can grieve and quench the Spirit, so likewise we can mask our clothing. Here Paul is simply stating “Become who you are.” The parallel to this passage is 1 Thess 5:7-8, which states,

7 For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night.
8 But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation.

Note the similar motifs of “day” and “put on.” Elsewhere we are commanded to put on the full armor of God in the infamous Ephesians 6:11, “Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” So when Paul commands us to “put on the armor of light” or “put on the Lord Jesus Christ,” he is telling us to put on our faith in Jesus Christ & his faithfulness, our absolutely sure hope in Jesus Christ (not simply wishful thinking), and the love that comes from Jesus Christ (as mentioned in Rom 13:10) carrying the Word of God with us, in us.

As Piper writes,

And how do you do that [put on Jesus Christ]? We could answer this question simply from the nature of faith and hope and love themselves. Faith comes from hearing, so put on Christ by listening to the word of God about Christ. Hope comes from promises, so put on Christ by remembering the promises of Christ. Love comes by the loveliness of Christ, so put on Christ by calling to mind his beauty.

And all of this is governed by the Word, just as the Psalmist said, “Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You” (119:11).

And the last command is to make NO provision for the flesh. And Piper explains this extremely well:

The word “provision” means literally “forethought,” and the whole sentence would go like this: “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and don’t let any thought in your head that would lead to a sinful desire—not just to the gratification of the sinful desire, but even the desire itself.”

“Provision” only appears elsewhere in the NT in Acts 24:2, as “providence.” So there is providential forethought, or as the NIV writes, “Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” It is that back-of-the-mind planning of acting out on my sin. It is that looking forward to that time where I will have the opportunity to sin, not committing myself not to sinning. It is that knowledge that your spouse will be gone on vacation or out of the house during X time, and “planning” (but not really planning) what we will do when that happens simply “allowing” ourselves to slip begging for the pity and sympathy of our accountability partners, mentors, and spounsors. However, the text says that I cannot allow myself room for these. I cannot not prevent some things; however, other things I can prevent. I need to think and plan. Just as the saying goes, “Failure to plan is planning to fail.” I cannot purposefully leave a end untied or loose, “just in case.” I cannot go somewhere knowing that I just may if I… It is searching on Google or elsewhere without the Safe Mode on. I must ask my accountability partners, mentors, and sponsors to try me, search me, and question me before things and the week happens.

One good accountability question is: “What is one time this coming week that you see yourself possibly being tempted?” The answer to this question lies around:

  • When do you see that you may be extremely tired this week?
  • When do you see youself possibly getting frustrated?
  • What events in this coming week may cause you to lose sleep, get frustrated, become depressed, get angry, be lonely, etc.?
  • Will you ever have the chance to be alone this week?

But how do we make “no provision for the flesh?” How do we “not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature?” As Piper says, “Sometimes just trying to resist them reminds you of them. The answer is not mainly by direct resistance—though that is very important. We should indeed say, “NO!” to a rising thought that would lead to sinful desire. But the answer is mainly in putting on the Lord Jesus Christ—that is, calling to mind the words of God that awaken more faith in Jesus, and calling to mind the promises of God that awaken more hope in Jesus, and calling to mind the beauty of Christ that awakens more love to Jesus” while always meditating on and recalling the Word of God. Let’s make this a bit more concrete. It is logging your prayer requests and the eventual answers (whether affirmative or negative). It is memorizing and recognizing the promises of God as active. It entails reading the Bible, not to just read it or check something off your list. It is reading the Bible to know God, to know Jesus. It is not filling one’s head with knowledge about spiritual things, but to provide an explosive, passionate relationship. It is knowing your identity in Christ by reading Victory over the Darkness by Neil Anderson. It is reading Who Am I in Christ? again and again every day for forty days. It is being in a relationship with someone that can put your feet to the coals. It is being in Accountability Group(s). It is having every part of your life accountable to someone.

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