Jack Graham - Woke or Awake?
I have a provocative title and a graphic text today from God’s Word. Take your Bible and turn to Romans chapter 13 as we’re going to speak on the subject "Woke or Awake"? It’s a question. Are you woke or are you awake? And it is an important subject because wokeness as it is described and demonstrated today in our world is a world view. It is a way of life, it is a philosophy, an ideology; it is even a theology. The most basic claim of wokeness is that there are two kinds of people in the world. Based on Marxism you could describe it not as class Marxism but cultural Marxism based upon two ideas: one is that you are either the oppressor or you are the oppressed. And the oppressor is supreme over the suppressed and the suppressed and oppressed are the victims. Again, based not on economics or class but not on color and culture.
The primary philosophy is represented in various critical theories. There are critical racial theories, there are gender theories that are critical theories, as well. James tells us that there are two kinds of wisdom; there is two kinds of wisdom. One is the wisdom that is from below, the other is the wisdom that is from above. There is a binary choice for Christians to make. Will we listen to the wisdom of the world which he goes on to describe as sensual and even demonic, or will we look to the wisdom that is from above which is pure and peaceable.
We have a biblical world view on race, and here it is: Galatians chapter 3, verses 26 through 29. I’m going to put it on the screen for you. "For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ", we're going to see that in our text today, "And there is neither Jew nor Greek, or slave or free, there's no male and female, for you are", and we could say black or white or brown, "for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring", that is, no longer Jew or Gentile in the sense of our oneness. But we are all, "heirs together of the promise of God". We are one family in Christ!
And then look in Acts chapter 17 and verse 26. We’re going to put it on the screen for you as well: "And he has made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place". So one nation, one blood, one family! We are united in this one blood. The blood of humanity and in Christ we are united in His blood! The color that matters is the red royal crimson of God’s Son who gave His life on the cross for us. We are all His children who know and love, who repent of our sins and receive the Lord Jesus Christ. God has made us human. We are made in our mother’s womb, created by the hand of God for a sovereign purpose. There is no superior race! We oppose any kind of racism. We oppose discrimination in its every and any form.
We must continue to fight for equality, but that equality is based upon biblical justice not social justice because social justice hijacks the Gospel. It is another gospel of which Paul spoke about. It is the gospel that does not save the soul but elevates the soul apart from God. Look at our text. Chapter 13, verses 11 and following, "Besides this". Literally it just says this! Have you ever been on social media and someone comments and just goes, "This"!
Well, that’s what Paul is doing right here. He’s saying "This": "you know the time (That's the word in the Greek language Kairos, which has to do with epic or era or 'the time' that is at hand.) that the hour has come for you (here it is) 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 (or decently, honorably) as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality (I told you this is was graphic), not in quarreling and jealousy. But (here it is... this) put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires".
There are three succinct commands in this passage: to wake up, to throw off and to put on. There they are and there’s the message. No use fooling with Paul’s outline here. To wake up, to throw off or to cast off and to put on. So let’s look at these one by one. First, he said awaken; wake up! Wake up out of sleep. You know what sleep is. Sleep is a loss of consciousness around your surrounding and you have no idea what’s going on if you’re in heavy sleep. And he says, it’s not time to sleep.
Now sleeps a good thing, a healthy thing. We’re told we should get 7 to 9 hours of sleep and we should do that daily if at all possible. And I could just say after I’ve been around the sun a few times don’t underestimate the power of a nap. But specifically, Paul is saying to us spiritually, this is now time to wake up! I put an exclamation point on that on the screen, because it’s as though we are being shaken. Wake up! The hour has come and "our salvation is nearer than when we first believed". This references the Second Coming of Christ. The salvation here is when Christ comes again and takes us home to be with Him at His Second Coming. Jesus spoke of the signs of the times, that multiply and intensify like birth pains at the end of the Age.
Every serious Christian living in these times, Paul talks about the times that we're in, every thinking, serious Christian living today should be asking the question: Are these the end of time? Are we living in the Last Days? I'm alarmed that there is so little emphasis or focus in pulpits today on the Second Coming of Jesus, the return of our Savior! And then he said, cast off or throw off. You see that down in verse 12? "To cast off the deeds of darkness and to put on the armor of light".
Now this is a common expression in Scripture to take off the old and to put on the new. Now remember, this is written primarily to Christians. This is written to you as a believer and follower of Jesus. That you, we are to wake up and throw off the old clothes. When Lazarus came out of the tomb after three days and Jesus raised him from the dead, there was the occasion when our Lord said, "I am the resurrection and the life". He raised Lazarus from the dead. And Lazarus came out wrapped like a mummy in those grave clothes. And what did Jesus say to those standing by? He said take off the grave clothes, loosen and let him go. So when he came alive, he came out of the grave and off came the grave clothes. And he put on the grace clothes. That's what we are to do; we are to rise and then throw off our bed clothes. I don't think you have a habit of leaving your house in your pajamas or whatever else you may sleep in. You take off your bed clothes and you put on what is described here as the "armor of light".
Now we're in war terminology. Paul is most likely addressing the Roman soldiers around him as well. And seeing their uniform and seeing their weaponry, he, of course, describe this in Ephesians chapter 6, our spiritual battle and putting on the armor of God, the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the belt of truth and, our feet are shod with the Gospel of the preparation of peace, and to take up the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God, and hold up the shield of faith. That you don't fight naked. You go to war. Here he's saying "put on the armor of light". So wise up, cast off the deeds of darkness and the old life and put on your Easter clothes. Dressed and ready for battle. In fact, when you get up in the morning as a child of God, ready for battle, ready to fight the good fight of faith, to go to war for the Gospel, the devil and his crowd ought to be saying, "Oh no! She’s up again! He’s up again! Doing damage for the kingdom of God"!
Some of you, we're all in this spiritual battle. Some of you have lost more battles this week than you've won, maybe. But the good news is that you can repent and renew your faith, put the armor back on and get back in the battle again. The goal is winning in Jesus' name. Don't sleep through the battle. God has called us to engage so rise and shine, this beautiful armor of God. And in the process of casting off the deeds of darkness, he gives us a description. It's not inclusive of all the sins of the deeds of darkness, but he gives us three pairs of sinful behaviors, if you will, and you see them right in our text. Look at your text again. It says: "Cast off the works of darkness and live decently", this is verse 13, "walk properly in the daytime", and then he speaks of, "not in orgies or drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy".
So here are some examples some extreme examples, graphic examples of the deeds of darkness that we're to throw off as Christians. He talks about orgies and drunkenness first. The word literally is partying, and it's the picture. The orgy as a mad party, a mob, if you will. We've all seen this happen at restaurants and maybe parties that you've attended where people get drunk; the next thing you know it's a mob, and people are shouting and angry and fights break out. And orgies break out of all kinds and it's partying. He's saying as a Christian, as a follower of Jesus Christ, you're wearing the armor of light. Don't live in the deeds of darkness. Don't live like this. It's not who you are. Not only does he mention partying, but he mentions drunkenness, which is to live under the influence of alcohol, or any other kind of stimulant or depressant drug.
Ephesians 5:18: It says: "Do not be drink with wine, where it is excess but be filled with the Holy Spirit". I don't want to live under the influence of alcohol or any other mind-altering substance, and therefore, I don't drink at all, and I never have, because most people who drink, drink for the buzz. And if you're drinking, can we just have a pastor talk with you? If you're drinking and you need it, you're dependent on the alcohol; you're under the influence of the alcohol. You're in chains. And we're not to live under the bondage of anything, certainly to be under the influence of alcohol. Why? Because we have the Spirit of God. We don't need the spirits; we have THE Spirit, the Holy Spirit of God! You say, "I’m a social drinker". Okay, but don’t live under the influence of alcohol in any way. And if you’re drinking every day, you’re more than a social drinker. You know that, right?
And then he talks about the second couplet or the second pair here of sins is immorality, sexual immorality and sensuality. The first word means lewdness, sexual immorality. The second word means shameful immorality. Lewdness and lustfulness. Sexual immorality literally here the word is bed. Now the marriage bed, the Scripture says, is honorable with God and undefiled. But the bed apart from the beauty and the blessedness of Christian marriage is off-limits certainly for the Christian whether it is premarital sex or extramarital sex, adultery, or sensuality of all kinds, including pornography, from heterosexual immorality, from homosexual immorality, it's all described here as lewdness and shameful lustfulness. It's a word, the last one, which means proud of your sin. We see that in media, don’t we? We see this in the movies that we often unfortunately watch, and even television shows.
There is the celebration of sin, of lewdness, of immorality of all kinds. We just saw in the text several weeks ago "We are to detest evil and cling to that which is good". So we are to be alert because this can happen to anyone. It happened to David, a man whose heart was hot after God, passionate man; but there was a time in David’s life, long after he was that humble little shepherd boy who defeated the great giant, he become king and he became powerful, and ultimately, he became prideful and neglectful. This is David, and it happened one late afternoon when David arose from his couch (Was he taking a nap? No doubt.) and was walking on the roof of the king's house. He saw from the roof a woman bathing and the woman was very beautiful. Her name was Bathsheba. Weird that her name is Bathsheba and he saw her bathing.
And if you know your way around your Bible in this story, you know what happened next. He saw her, he lusted, he called for her, he committed adultery with her, she got pregnant, he set up her husband, Uriah the Hittite. Basically, committed manslaughter, murdered him by putting him on the front line and he lived in wickedness and sin. Why? Because he was lazy. It all started when he wasn't alert, he wasn't awake! He wasn't paying attention anymore. We think sexual sin is just for young people. It can happen to anyone. It can happen to a king like David. And there are dirty young men and there are dirty old men.
But here's what 2 Timothy 2:22 says: "Run from everything that stimulates youthful lust, instead", and this is The New Living Translation, "instead pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love and peace. Enjoy, and all those who enjoy the companionship of those who call upon the name of the Lord". So there you have it. And then he mentions the second couplet and that is strife and envy, or the third couplet rather. The third pair of sin, strife and envy. You're thinking by now maybe, ha, man, I don't drink; I don't get drunk. I don't run around in orgies; I don't party hard. I'm not committing adultery. I'm not shacking up. I'm doing all the right things morally. You're not committing the sins of dissipation.
So just in case the Holy Spirit misses us, He talks about strife and envy. The sins of disposition. Strife and envy. Strife means, well, striving, strife-ing. It is anger and contention, in quarreling, it is fighting, it is arrogance, it is pride. And this kind of thing, strife is ruining relationships every day, including some of your marriages. The striving, the strife-ing, the arguing, the fighting. And then there's social media, people who want to get online and fight, and argue. You know, we jump in the battle. Strife. And then envy, that's jealousy, of course.
I need to close this message and say finally, he says "Therefore put on Christ". So the way to overcome evil is to overcome it with good, and to put on Christ. Do you see it there? Look at the last verse, verse 14: "But you put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires". You say, wait a minute. "Put on Christ". What does that mean? Let me describe this way: Cloth yourself with the presence of Christ in your life. Now Christ, if you are a Christian is in you. But you are to put Christ on you, as well. God from heaven sees you in Christ, the righteousness of Christ. But the world sees what you are on the outside. The world sees whether or not you are living in the presence and in the priority of Christ in your life.
And so to put on Christ is to pursue Him, to love Him and to represent Him to the world. That you would, you would pray and live like the old song, "Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me" or in this case, on me. That it would be His character. And what is the character of Christ? The fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5: love and joy and peace and patience and kindness and goodness and gentleness and faithfulness and self-control. This is all who Jesus is and it’s all who you are, so put this on every single day. It’s your Easter clothes. Why? Because you're living in the resurrection! You're living in the resurrected life of Christ, the risen life of Christ. And so show it, by putting on Christ every single day.
You know, the early Christians were called Christians at Antioch, Acts chapter 11. They didn’t have a name-the-church contest; they didn’t, you know, turn in suggestions, "What are we going to call ourselves"?. In fact, it was the outsiders who looked at these believers and followers of Jesus and said they’re Christians. They’re like Christ. They represented Christ; they reminded people of Christ. And when we call ourselves Christians, we’re to put on Christ every day. Not just the Sunday Jesus or the Easter Jesus, but the Monday Jesus, the Tuesday Jesus, the Wednesday Jesus, the Thursday-Friday-Saturday Jesus! We’re to put on the Lord Jesus Christ!
And the Lord Jesus Christ, when we put Him on in the power of His Spirit we are no longer making provision for the flesh cause we are feeding the spirit. I say starve the flesh and feed the spirit. Make no provision for the flesh in your life. If you’re on a diet and trying to lose weight you might want to take the Blue Bell out of the freezer, I don’t know. You know, it kind of works for me. In other words, related to sin, don’t give the devil a stick to hit you with. "Make no provision" literally it means don’t plan your sin. You know?
Don’t go to places that are going to trip you up. Don’t hang around people that are going to bring you down. Make no provision for the flesh. Take off the sin and put on salvation; take off the guilt and shame and put on grace; take off your old life and put on your new life; take off the dirt and the filth and put on His righteousness; take off your sorrow and put on His comfort. I like the way it’s paraphrased by Philipps. Put that on the screen for us and we’re done. "Be Christ’s men (or women) from head to foot, and give no chance for the flesh to have a fling".