Even the early Christians could get sleepy and neglectful of their spiritual life. Human nature hasn’t changed, and we can fall into the same stupor. We can be lulled to sleep by getting caught up in the daily routines of life or the pleasures of the world. Paul reminds the Roman Christians that it is time to wake up and stop neglecting their spiritual life (Romans 13:11). This isn’t something to be taken lightly, to neglect or put off. The second coming of Jesus is nearer than when we first believed (Romans 13:11). By saying this, Paul isn’t suggesting that the second coming was necessarily imminent in his day. According to Jesus, no one knows the day or the hour (Matthew 24:36). By saying that salvation is nearer than when we first believed, Paul is expressing the reality that every day is one day nearer to the second coming of Jesus.
Since every day we are one day nearer to the coming of Jesus, it is urgently important to make sure that we are not being lulled to sleep by the world. Each day increases the urgency of the call to cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light (Romans 13:12). As we await the return of our Lord, we are to walk as if it were daytime. That is, we are to avoid the evil works of the night, things like revelry, drunkenness, sexual immorality, strife, and envy (Romans 13:13).
We are to clothe ourselves with Jesus and not make any provision for the fulfillment of the lusts of the flesh (Romans 13:14). To clothe ourselves with Jesus means to fully appropriate the reality of Jesus into our lives. It means to shape our life around the reality of His life. We can only do this if we regularly spend time in God’s word, seeking to understand how Jesus lived His life.
Part of shaping our life around the life of Jesus is to avoid making provision for the lusts of the flesh. This is a frank acknowledgment that the flesh will still desire to be fulfilled. We. Must. Resist. We do this by refusing to make provision for the lust of the flesh. Do you have a problem with internet pornography? Stop making provision for the flesh and share your browsing history with a trusted friend. Do you struggle with an addiction? Resolutely determine to remove the substance from your life. You can’t drink alcohol if there isn’t alcohol to drink. Do you stumble in a particular environment? You may need to avoid that environment altogether. “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts” (Romans 13:14).