Clothe Yourself with Christ—Romans 13:14

"Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature" (Romans 13:14)

What a marvelous notion that we can cloth ourselves with Christ in this present world. I John 4:17 says, "as he is, so are we in this world" ( I John 4:17 KJV ).  We were made like Him the moment we received our born again spirit. It is the part of us that is identical to Christ. So Paul reminds us in today's passage to clothe ourselves with Christ, making no provision to indulge in the cravings of our physical nature and gratify the lust of our flesh.

Many believe that to do this we must deny ourselves and die again to the sin nature whenever it rears its ugly head in our lives. However, the sin nature has already been defeated through Christ Jesus, we have been freed from this nature once for all ( Romans 6: 6-7 ). So when the nature that we have been set free from tries to regain ground in our lives by enticing our fleshly desires, the key to overcoming this is to clothe ourselves with Christ and make no provision for those desires.

Romans 8 gives us insight on how to accomplish this in our lives, "Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace" ( Romans 8:5, Romans 8:6 ). By simply pursuing a life driven by the Spirit of God living on the inside of us, instead of succumbing to the physical soulish realm of our desires, we will look, live and be like Christ in this present world. Paul went on to say, "Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation-but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God" ( Romans 8:12, Romans 8:13, Romans 8:14 ). When we clothe ourselves with Christ Jesus it is evident that we belong to him.

So what does Christ look like? Galatians 5 gives us incredible insight on Christ's characteristics and living by the Spirit. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit" ( Galatians 5:22-25 ). These things are currently in existence in our born again spirit. By living in accordance with the Spirit of God we will release this fruit to operate in our lives. It is possible to experience all of these things merely by seeking and following God and the Holy Spirit living within us.

This is the evidence that we belong to Christ. Paul instructs us to clothe ourselves with Christ so we will not be overcome by the desires of our old nature. "So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law" ( Galatians 5:16-18 ). If you want to be free then live by the Spirit of God.

What an amazing truth this is. In God's brilliance, He has made it possible to live as we are called to live, as Christ's ambassadors representing Him in this world. This does not come out of our own works or trying to be the best we can be, but by allowing the Holy Spirit to guide, direct and change us into the glorious creation that God desires. May you understand this incredible truth today and start living in step with the Spirit of God.

It's Time for the Church to Be the Church—Romans 13:12-13

"The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy" (Romans 13:12-13)

It's time for the church to be the church. It is time for it to stand up and be the glorious creation that Jesus paid for it to be. No longer, should there be no difference between believers and the world, but we should look like day in comparison to the darkness that exists. As Paul reminds us, "The night is nearly over; the day is almost here".

We were called to walk in the light as He is in the light ( I John 1:7 ). As believers we have been rescued from the darkness that held us captive and ushered into the kingdom of his dear son ( Colossians 1:13 ). Because of this we are new creations in Christ Jesus ( II Corinthians 5:17 ), as such we should live like who we are; not wrapped up in the behaviors of the world. The things of this world are evident; immoralities, drunkenness, debauchery, dissension, jealousy, all of these things characterize the world. As Christians there should not even be a hint of these things among us. Paul wrote to the Ephesians, "Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children" ( Ephesians 5:1 ). Emulating God will make us shine like the noon day sun in this dark world.

Paul went on to say in Ephesians, "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light  (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible" ( Ephesians 5:8-14 ). If we live according to our new nature fashioned after Jesus in true righteousness and holiness ( Ephesians 4:24 ), then every evil deed around us will be exposed by the light of His truth functioning in our lives. People will notice the difference in our lives and respond to it. The Lord living through us will convict those around us because our lives will be so different than theirs.

Jesus also instructed the disciples on this matter. "Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man" ( Luke 21:34-36 ). He knew that in the last days mankind would be so evil that unless we were careful those concerns would creep in and entrap us. Jesus' solution was to watch and pray in order to escape the corruption in the world. As believers we must remain in the truth, walk in the light and stand firm until the end.

As the church we are called to overcome and stand our ground. To do this we must understand the Lord's will, watch, pray and surround ourselves with other likeminded believers. We should be careful how we live, making the most of every opportunity ( Ephesians 5:15-17 ). The days are evil, but God has equipped the church to be the light in this dark world. Let's stand together and be all that he has called us to be.

Salvation is Nearer Now than When We First Believed—Romans 13:11

"And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed" (Romans 13:11)

What a marvelous truth to understand that our final deliverance from this world is fast approaching. Because of this, we are in a critical hour to recognize reality. We need to awaken from slumber and start advancing the kingdom of God because salvation is near and millions of people are lost.

Jesus spoke extensively about signs of the times and what to watch out for. He told his disciples, "Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door" ( Mark 13:28-29 ). He was speaking of the end of the age telling them the signs that would accompany it. Then he reminded them of the fig tree. The fig tree showed the timeframe for summer had come when leaves appeared. Even so, the events that Jesus mentioned in the Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21 lead to the end of this world. Because of this we know that the hour is at hand and our final salvation in nearer to us than when we first believed.

Jesus went on to say, "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come" ( Mark 13:32-33 ). As believers we need to be ready to go when he comes. We should be standing our ground and advancing the kingdom of God. We should not be hanging back waiting for that day lest Jesus find us asleep or consumed with this world. We should be alert and ready. Jesus told his disciples in Luke's gospel account, "When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near" ( Luke 21:28 ) . Our final salvation, the redemption of our physical bodies will take place unexpectedly; therefore we should always stand looking up in anticipation.

We should be on guard, awake and alert because we also have a job to do. Our job is to preach the gospel to the far reaches of the world. Jesus told the disciples that when this is accomplished He will return for us. "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come" ( Matthew 24:14 ). So the sooner we get moving on our mission, the sooner we will be present with the Lord forever.

Paul reminds us in today's passage that fulfillment of this mission stems our of our love debt to the Lord. He said in the previous verse, "Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law" ( Romans 13:10 ). Then he started this passage with "And do this, understanding the present time..." It is because of our love for God and His love for mankind that we share the good news with everyone around us. Not out of fear, not out of guilt, but out of love and gratitude for Him. We should be burdened to see the lost saved, knowing what an incredible gift our salvation is.

Today, I pray that you are challenged to awaken from normal everyday life being motivated for the kingdom of God. Remember your final salvation is at hand and Jesus is coming very soon. Look up expectantly today, knowing that He is coming back for you. Share this good news in your workplace, with your neighbors, with your family and with your friends. The sooner this mission is accomplished the sooner we are out of here!

Love is the Fulfillment of the Law—Romans 13:8-10

"Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet,"  and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law" (Romans 13:8-10)

Love is an incredible thing. Love is what initiated God's redemption plan for us. Perhaps the most well known verse in the entire Bible says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" ( John 3:16 ). Because of God's great love for us God sent Jesus into humanity to recue mankind from the power of darkness and bring us into fellowship with Him. In the same way, as believers, we ought to love one another, "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love" ( I John 4:7-8 ). Our love for each other shows that be belong to the truth because "God lives in us and his love is made complete in us" ( I John 4:12 ).

Paul reminds us in today's passage that we are to leave "no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another". As believers we should owe no man. We should be free from the bondage of debt. We should pay in full for the things we have and the thing we buy. This goes back to the previous verses identifying that we should pay what we owe, whether taxes, salaries, honor or respect ( Romans 13:7 ). The only debt that we should have is the debt to love one another. This obligation comes out of the realization of what Christ did for us. Once we understand how he overcame every barrier that sin put between us to bring us back into a restored relationship with the Father, it gives us a new perspective about our fellow mankind. We didn't deserve His grace or His mercy but because He loved us we received both. In the same way, because he loved us we should also extend both grace and mercy to each other.

The amazing thing about this is that Paul said this love we extend to one another fulfills and summarizes the rest of the law. All of these commandments hinge on how we treat others. If we love then we will not murder, steal and covet our neighbor's things. Love fulfills the intent of the law because all things can be summarized and fulfilled by love. Paul said in I Corinthians 13: 3, if I have not love, I am nothing. Love will never do harm to one another, therefore it meets all the requirements of the law.

When questioned about the Law Jesus recited the exact same observation. "One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?" "The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."  ( Mark 12:28-31 ). By loving God with everything we are, we fulfill the law because we are looking to him for grace and mercy. This love equips and enables us to love one another in a deep and genuine way, showing that we are walking in His truth. This is the only debt that we should owe, the debt to love one another because "Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God" ( I John 4:7 ).

Today, I am thankful that God is love. I rejoice that he demonstrated His incredible love for us in the person of Jesus Christ. I am forever changed because of this love and I know that it extends to those around me because he has enabled me to love deeply. Today, I pray that you let His love flow through you and touch those around you. May you be a blessing and a light for His kingdom in this dark world, amen.

Give Everyone What You Owe—Romans 13:6-7

"This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor" (Romans 13:6-7)

As believers we should be above reproach concerning money. We should be faithful and diligent stewards and appropriate it wisely. We should pay our taxes, pay salaries and let no debt remain outstanding. Whether we owe money, respect or honor we should be quick to settle those accounts and render to all men their dues.

The Pharisees asked Jesus something similar in Mark 12. They were trying to trap Jesus and came asking if they should pay taxes to Caesar or not. Jesus knowing their hearts answered them, "Why are you trying to trap me?" he asked. "Bring me a denarius and let me look at it."They brought the coin, and he asked them, "Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?" "Caesar's," they replied. Then Jesus said to them, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's. ( Mark 12:15-17 ). The Bible records the Pharisees marveled at his answer and asked him no more questions.

They were intent on entrapping him in order to accuse him and hand him over to the authorities. But Jesus knew their hypocrisy and called them on it. Luke's account went on to say, "They were unable to trap him in what he had said there in public. And astonished by his answer, they became silent" ( Luke 20:26 ). By his one answer he utterly defeated those trying to accuse him. His answer showed that He upheld the civil authorities that ruled and instructed others to do the same.

In the same way we are to render what is due to others. Paul reminds us that they are God's servants devoting themselves to governing. It is logical that the citizens should pay for and support their service. In the same breath Paul reminds us to always give everyone what you owe them. If it is taxes, pay your taxes. If it is revenue or money, then pay them. If you owe respect then give respect if it is honor then show honor. In doing this you will live above reproach in this world.

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Juli Camarin

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