COVER STORY – ADVENT
“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas,”
as the old song goes. We see it all around us: lights and decorations, Christmas songs, Christmas shopping, and the planning of Christmas events. Even without a calendar, you would know that Christmas is coming soon.
You may be surprised to know the situation was somewhat similar leading up to the first Christmas. Of course, there were no Christmas decorations or music, but Daniel had given some very specific prophecies so that people who paid attention would know that the time was coming soon. That explains why, as Luke records, “Now as the people were in expectation, and all reasoned in their hearts about John, whether he was the Christ or not, . . .” (Luke 3:15) It also explains why there were several people who claimed to be the Messiah at that time. The people were in expectation of Messiah’s coming soon. They were looking for him and testing the various claims.
Isn’t the same true for us?
We have been given many prophecies, many signs that Christ is coming soon. We, too, should be in expectation of His coming. Therefore the Apostle Paul urges us,
“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. 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. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.”
Advent reminds us that Christ is coming soon. We need to be ready. The night of this world, with its sin and trouble, is almost over. The eternal Day of Glory in God’s visible presence is almost here. We’d better wake up and get ready!
To do so, Paul urges us to “Cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.” No more “revelry and drunkenness”—don’t seek your joy and pleasure in wild parties and drinking. No more “lewdness and lust”—don’t let the sexual passions and perversions of the world be your secret pleasure. No more “strife and envy”—don’t let anger and jealousy rule your heart, but live in peace and love with all. In other words, put away all the sins of the flesh through true contrition and repentance.
Finally, Paul says, “Make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” Our flesh is constantly trying to drag us back into the darkness, but we shouldn’t give it any opportunity to fulfill its lusts. Don’t even let it get a foot in the door. Stop it right when the desire for evil is in the very first stages.
How do we do that? Don’t trust your own good intentions, your self discipline, or your own resolve to change your heart and life. Rather “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ,” Paul says. We have “put on Christ” in baptism. (Galatians 3:27) We were completely covered with His righteousness and holiness so that we can live with God in the glorious day. Now, by faith in Him, we can put on Christ daily by genuine contrition and repentance. We put Him on by letting “the word of Christ dwell in you richly.” (Colossians 3:16) Clothed with Christ and His righteousness, we can “cast off the works of darkness” and “make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” Put on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be ready for the dawning of the glorious Day!
David Reim is pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Vernon, British Columbia.