Audio Worship 12/10/2023, "The Clothing of Advent" Romans 13.11-14

Princeton Presbyterian Church (EPC) Sermon # 1616

December 10, 2023 - Advent 2

Romans 13.11-14           Click here for audio worship.

Dr. Ed Pettus

(This is an extended outline, not a verbatim transcript.)


“The Clothing of Advent”


11Besides 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. 12The 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. 13Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.



  • Night vs Day


Wake up! Not awake as in being woke. Wake up because salvation is near. The kingdom of God is near. The Lord Jesus Christ has come and will come again. Wake from sleep. Wake from the sinful darkness. Wake from the delusions of the world. Wake from the seduction of idolatry. Wake from the sleep of deception filling the culture and infiltrating politics and education and medicine and entertainment and other sectors of society. Night is far gone. All this deception and confusion is of the night, of the darkness, and it is far gone. It may seem to have a stronghold in our world, but the victory is on the side of the day, of the light. This is our battle today as Paul writes in the second part of verse 12, we are to cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. It is night verses day, darkness vs light, evil vs good and the good news is that the light has already conquered! In the cross of Jesus Christ death has lost, sin has no power, the night is far gone. We need not be too distraught over the daily barrage of insanity from the worldly powers, but perhaps we can take the posture of Psalm 2.1-4,

1Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 2The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, 3“Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” 4He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.

Why do the leaders of our nation take counsel together to rule without any counsel from God or His Word? Why to leaders from around the world gather at these summits to plot in vain over economies or climate change or trade agreements? When they gather to take counsel against the Lord and against His Anointed, they plot in vain, for the night is far gone, they have no real power. The day is at hand and all this empty rhetoric over world issues discussed apart from God’s sovereignty will amount to less than nothing. I am not ashamed to say that my favorite verse in Psalm 2 is verse 4, He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Why does God laugh? Because they plot in vain. They take counsel without the counsel of God. They are subject to the derision wrought by God. But, for the most part, the church is afraid to laugh with God. We are afraid of offending or making fun of those who plot in vain. Many are afraid to point out their darkness, afraid to condemn their absence of trust in God.

There is a way to expose the darkness, to reveal the night, and to “laugh” at the insanity of this world and it involves clothing! Well, not your Levis, or Carhartt, or Nike shoes, but the clothing of darkness, that is the behaviors of the night. Cast off the works of darkness so that others may see their own clothing of darkness and cast it off as well.



  • Cast Off Old Clothes


We live in a complex nation a complicated world. During this Advent season we are told that we cannot express the message of light. “Arise, shine, for your light has come” (Isaiah 60.1)! In other words, we are told we cannot say Merry Christmas. We cannot display the scenes of Jesus’ birth or tell the news of a Savior born unto us. And yet the complexity arises because the nation is clothed in the darkness of consumerism and needs the Christmas season to begin as early as possible for the sake of our economy. Perhaps our culture suffers from a bi-polar disorder. Both poles exemplify the ways of the world: denial of the birth of Jesus Christ as Savior and exploitation of the holy day for profit. (Not advocating end to giving gifts, but end denial of Jesus as reason for giving!)

Our call to the world and especially to our own culture is to cast off those old darkened clothes and rekindle the true meaning and sacred nature of Christmas. There was a time when our culture and the church were in harmony on Christmas and its meaning, but we know those days are no more. Advent is a time for clothing, that is literally, to put on Christ. We attempt to show the world the meaning of Christmas by “what we wear”, that is, by how we live. Think about this as a metaphor of clothing. We put on Christ to live differently, to live in great expectation of Advent. Think about how we wear certain clothing to do certain tasks: hunting, golf, worship, house work, gardening, whatever activity we like, we often have special clothing. Advent reminds us to wear our faith, or wear our love, to walk in a certain way that demonstrates Christ will come again.

The culture prefers to make Christmas for unholy use. Their goal is to make it all about what we literally wear rather than what we spiritually wear. We have to have the latest fashions, the coolest shoes, the best of this shirt or blouse or suit. It is all centered on the outside appearance and nothing about the inner being.

So God, through the apostle Paul, speaking to our time, says this:

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” (Romans 13:11).

The Advent of God is always nearer than we think. We look to Jesus to come in the clouds, in glory with all his angels, yet Jesus comes in the Spirit each moment of the day. I think it safe to say that Paul believed Christ would return in his lifetime. Often we see signs that give us hope He will return in our lifetime. And He just might! Paul’s exhortation is that the hour is now. It is time to trust that the Lord has come and is coming, and will come again. We celebrate his coming, we celebrate that He is here, and we celebrate that He will come again. It is time for us to understand the time and become more aware of the coming of the Lord.

“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 (Romans 13:12).

Because the coming of the Lord is closer than we first believed, we are summoned to put away the ways of darkness, put away sin, to be rid of fear and anxiety. We read in Colossians 3.1-10,

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

5Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.


Paul likes those phrases “to put off” or “put to death” that which is of the dark or what is earthly. We battle with putting those kinds of things away, partly because of our old sinful nature, but also because those kinds of things are presented to us on a daily basis by the world. It is why we need to be consistently in worship, in reading the Bible, in prayer, in putting off the old clothes and putting on the new clothes.


  • Put On the New Clothes


I trust that many of us will either give gifts of new clothing for Christmas or we will receive some new clothing. I could always expect my grandmother to give me new socks every Christmas. On the opposite side of Paul’s exhortation to put off the old, there is the putting on of the new,

So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13Let us walk properly as in the daytime... 14But put on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 13.12-14).


Three ways Paul expresses our new clothes: put on the armor of light; walk properly as in the daytime; put on the Lord Jesus Christ. The armor of light is most likely a reference to the armor of God in Ephesians 6. The walking in daytime is certainly a metaphor for how we live. And putting on the Lord Jesus Christ means to live in Jesus and through Jesus and by Jesus and for Jesus, that is, every conceivable way, we live as Jesus lived.

I have already read from Colossians 3 about putting off the darkness and Paul lays out what to put on in that chapter as well.

12Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:12-17).


This is the clothing we wear, it is our life. To live is Christ. He is our life. This is what it means to walk properly as in the daytime. Paul addressed the church of Rome, a culture filled with things like reveling and jealousy, and he did not want that for the church. Just like today! Our behavior reflects our sensitivity to the Lord's summons to walk in the light. Behavior that avoids drunkenness and jealousy is the behavior of those who put on the armor of light. We see so much indecent behavior in our society; we feel that we are swimming upstream to get people to behave properly, but also to keep ourselves in the light!


...put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Romans 13:14).

This is the contrast that Paul sets for the Christians in Rome and for us today. The world only wants us to provide for the flesh, to gratify our desires. The contrast to that way of life is to put on the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is the light. Clothe ourselves in Christ, put on Jesus Christ like a big coat that surrounds our whole body, our whole life. We are called to occupy our time with Christ. Spending time with Jesus Christ is a great way to prepare for His Advent, whether the First Advent or the Second.

Basically it is all about living faithfully as a Christian. Advent is simply a reminder to do just that – to put on the Lord Jesus Christ. This is how we can remain a witness to the truth of Advent and Christmas.


  • The Clothing of Advent


I do not have much to add to our final point of today’s sermon outline. The clothing of Advent is seen in all the passages we have examined today.

Put Off:

From Colossians 3 - what is earthly in you...put off the old self with its practices.


Put On:

Also from Colossians 3 - compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience...forgiveness...above all these put on love...let the peace of Christ rule in your thankful...let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,

From Galatians 5 – “put on” the fruit of the, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.


Above all, put on love, put on Jesus. Take time during the Advent season and the Christmas preparations to see what needs to be put off and what needs to be put on. What darkness needs to be exposed and what light needs to shine anew. This is certainly the time of year when we know more than any other time, The night is far gone; the day is at hand. Let us celebrate the light, the day, the Advent of the One who has come and will come again! Amen.