Romans 13:12-14: Walking In The light
Augustine, one of the church fathers of the 4thcentury is one of the most influential men in Christian history, was converted by this text. He grew up in a home with a Christian mother and unbelieving father. He was given the best education and went on to succeed in Rhetoric and teaching. He went through various religions looking for truth and came under the influence of the great preacher Ambrose. At first it was merely an appreciation for his preaching ability, but the Spirit began to work on his heart. Augustine was a man who was given to the pleasures of the flesh, and mourned over the fact that as part of the elite of society he could not master self-control. He was exposed to the ascetic monks like Antony who gave up all and lived in the desert. These examples convicted him deeply of his own self-indulgence, in his heart he would say, ‘give me chastity but not yet.’
There came a time when he was under a terrible conviction of sin and desire to be free from his sins:
‘I flung myself down, how, I know not, under a certain fig-tree, giving free course to my tears… And, not indeed in these words, yet to this effect, spake I much unto Thee—‘But Thou, O Lord, how long?’ How long, Lord? Wilt Thou be angry forever? O, remember not against us former iniquities’, for I felt that I was enthralled by them…’Why not now? Why is there not this hour an end to my uncleanness.’ At this point in his agonising he heard children playing a childish game repeating, ‘take up and read!’ he thought about how the monk Antony had been converted by walking in on the bible being read. ‘So I quickly went back to the place where Alypius was sitting; for there had I put down the volume of the apostles, when I rose thence, I grasped, opened, and in silence read the paragraph on which my eyes first fell,—‘Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying; but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.’ No further would I read, nor did I need; for instantly, as the sentence ended—by a light, as it were, of security infused into my heart—all the gloom of doubt vanished away.’
And so began the long and sad history of Christians randomly opening their bibles to get a word from God. But seriously, here is a wonderful text that does indeed speak about putting away the old and putting on the new. One commentator has summed up what this portion is saying in two succinct sentences, be what you are, children of light; and become what you will be, more like Christ. Paul has been talking to us about the second coming of Christ and how we ought to live in light of that reality. Paul calls us in this portion to three things, to dress for the day; to walk as in the day; and to pursue the humanity of the new day after Christ’s own likeness.
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