By Justin Edwards
And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. 12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. Romans 13:11-14
The Lord Jesus Christ is returning not some time in the distant future, but perhaps today, tomorrow, next week, or next year. The signs are clear that His return is at the doorstep and Jesus Himself told us to be aware of the events that would preempt His coming. By glancing at today’s headlines, one would have to have their head deep in the sand to not realize we are in the season of His promised return – a failing economy, the bridging of all religions, the threat of global war, the looming apocalyptic confrontation in the Middle East, the apostate condition of the visible church, the increase in frequency and catastrophic impact of natural disasters, and the exponential advancement of technology, just to name a few.
With this in mind, what are you doing to prepare yourself to meet the God of all creation? For many years, I wore the badge of “Christian” and played the role when convenient but never had a lasting commitment to the One who purchased me for such a great cost. I would often think (or hope) I would live long enough to see an obvious sign that Jesus was returning soon, and at that point I would give everything of me to Him. Praise God for His grace and patience with me, because that’s what happened in August of 2008 when Russia invaded the Republic of Georgia. This was the wake-up call I had expected for so long and it is what stirred me to start seeking after God that led me to my full surrender in March 2009.
But what foolishness! Had I met my maker before March last year I have no idea what my fate would have been. The life I had been living, for the most part, was hardly exemplary of one who had been washed, justified, and sanctified by the precious blood of the Lamb of God. From my late teenage years to the age of 29 and at one point or another, while professing to be a Christian, I was involved in drugs, drunkenness, drinking and driving, stealing, premarital sex, lying, idolatry, serving my own selfish ambitions, controlling my own will, and telling God I was sorry of these things when I felt guilty. I attended church in between the antics sometimes, and would even go 2 or 3 weeks free from these sins, but ultimately would return to my own vomit. This is hopelessness.
Some might say if I was saved during those years I was merely being rebellious and like the prodigal son, I came back to the Father. Others might say there is no way I could have been saved while partaking in these gratifying lusts of the flesh. I tend to agree with the latter folks all things considered, as the life I walk now is markedly different than the one back then. The difference?
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. – Romans 8:1
The life I walk now is one that is dead to sin and alive in Christ. By the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, I have made my mind up and chosen whom I will serve. Having crucified my flesh with its passions and desires, I am no longer a slave to sin but a slave to the righteousness of Jesus Christ. The hopeless remorse I used to have was changed to godly sorrow that led to life:
For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. – 2 Corinthians 7:10
This repentance will not be repented of. In other words, when one has repented unto salvation, this repentance will not be regretted and one will not return to the slavery of the flesh. It is a changing of the mind and a changing of the will. And when one has made up his mind that he is finished serving his flesh, he is finished pleasing men, he is finished pursuing riches, he is finished with the pride of life and the lusts of the flesh, and he is finished loving the world – he is then ready to surrender his life to the Lord Jesus Christ and commit his will to the will of God and God alone.
The passage of Scripture I posted at the beginning tells us it is high time – that is, now is the moment – to awake from our slumber. Now is the time to do away with the things affecting intimacy between you and Christ. This slumber is spiritual apathy and lethargy where one is unresponsive to the things of God. Paul is calling us to wake up! For the completeness of our salvation (redemption and glorification) is nearer than when we first believed. Satan’s dominion is reaching its end, and the day of Christ’s return is at hand. This urgency must motivate us to pursue holiness and the things of God now. We must repent and forsake our sins. Ask God to search your heart and reveal these things to you. Be proactive and diligent to cast off these works of darkness, doing whatever it takes to kill the misdeeds of the body. Do this to become holy as He is holy. Read your Bible every day, obey the Word of God, and pray without ceasing. This is how the Holy Spirit transforms you from the inside out.
I plead with you not to wait as I did for God to show you “one last sign”. The time is now to make your calling and election sure. It would be terrible and devastatingly unfortunate for you to realize that you were not secure after all because you had one foot in the world while also professing to be a Christian. I say this not to instill fear of the world in you, but to instill the fear of the Lord in you to examine yourself to make sure you are in the faith. Our time is running out and the King of Glory is at the doorstep. He is worthy to be praised, and He is worthy for you to lay your life down so He can raise you up. He is worthy for you to present your body as a living sacrifice to Him, and He is worthy for you to love Him with all of your heart, mind, soul, and strength. In these last days, let us be diligent in serving and loving the Lord Jesus Christ with our every breath.
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. – Titus 2:11-14