Every child knows what it’s like to be home alone. Every student knows what it’s like for a teacher to leave the classroom. And every employee knows what it’s like when the boss isn’t around. In those moments, our first instinct is to do whatever we want. Destroy the house. Be the class clown. Send a text message. And all of that sounds fun—unless, of course, the one we fear suddenly returns. And we get caught. So, with that in mind, most of us choose not to take the risk and act as if said person could return at any moment.
It’s interesting what expectancy can do. When the imminence of someone returning makes us act differently. And how the return of someone we fear keeps us from doing things we know we would regret later.
The same should be true in our walk with Christ. After all, we know He is coming again. Even though we don’t know the day or the hour. We know He is returning as a thief in the night. And how horrible it’d be if we were unprepared for His return. Much worse than if we got caught fooling around in the classroom or scrolling through Facebook at work. But it’s possible to be unprepared for the sudden return of our King (see Matt. 25:1-13; 1 Thess. 5:3-11), and that should send shivers down our spines!
So, as followers of Christ, we must walk in light of His return. Our lives fueled by expectancy. Each step taken as if He could return at any moment. Because, well, He can. And that’s what brings me to Romans 13:11-14.
The apostle Paul writes, “Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. 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. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (ESV).
Our expectation of Christ’s return determines how we walk today.
Paul describes how, as followers of Christ, we’re no longer children of darkness. As John writes, “If we say we have fellowship with him [God] while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth” (1 Jn. 1:6 ESV). We’re no longer asleep. No longer ignorant of eternal life. Instead, our eyes have been opened. Now, we’re dead to sin and alive in Christ (see Rom. 6:11). And this salvation which is to be fulfilled at the return of Christ is closer now than ever before.
With that, Paul writes to those in Rome to “walk properly,” expecting His return at any moment. To refrain from wild parties, excessive drinking, sexual sin, fighting, jealousy, and other worldly pursuits. Instead, he writes, “… put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (v. 14 ESV).
And this is the verse I want us to focus on. Because our walk is influenced by the things we allow to come upon our paths. If we are to walk in light of Christ’s return, we must put on Christ and give our flesh little opportunity for sin.
Consider what Paul writes elsewhere, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (Col. 3:5-10 ESV).
Having been clothed in Christ, now you must “‘watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation’” (Matt. 26:41 ESV). Making no provision for the flesh. Instead, with great expectancy, you seek “… an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Pet. 1:4-5 ESV).
Let us walk in light of Christ’s return. And may He come quickly.