“The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day, not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying, let us put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provisions for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof.”
It would be very easy to join hands with the opinion of man’s religion and spend this time in a vain exhortation and carnal admonishment for the betterment of Adam, but we have not so learned Christ. The Holy Spirit did not inspire Paul to write to the Galatian church and rebuke them by saying, “Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit are ye now made perfect by the flesh” (Gal.3:3) and then years later to write to the church at Rome and say, now that ye have begun in the Spirit it’s time to exercise that flesh to live the victorious christian life’. Such a contradiction is impossible for an immutable God. Rather Paul is given to again, like John in his writing, to set forth the truth of the condition of a child of grace and then to set forth the manifestations of that life within. he told the brethren at Rom that they had been freed from the law of sin being crucified with Christ and were no longer subjects to the domination of sin. Therefore, he said, reckon yourselves to be dead unto sin, because they had been crucified with Christ. He did not tell them to go out and kill sin or self in order to become free for that would praise the flesh and require that forgiveness was a debt to be paid by God for services rendered by man. He did not tell them that they needed to prepared themselves by training and denial of self in order to become acceptable sacrifices unto God but rather, because they are of the house of the first born, they were living sacrifices acceptable unto God. So here he is not saying that it is time to first make a list of all the deeds that are to be classified as being dark and then to systematically eliminate them from our lives.
The night that Paul speaks of is the darkness of the shadow of death, which is the law. No one could every be justified by the deeds of the law and anyone who could have kept every jot and every tittle would have only proved, with every compliant act, that they were sinners in need of forgiveness. No one could have their conscience purged from sin by keeping the law but now, since the Son of Righteousness had fulfilled the law in all righteousness, the night is far spent and our salvation nearer than when we first believed. When the child of grace is awakened to the revelation of the Spirit within and feels the condemnation of the commandments he is in that valley of the shadow of death but he is soon shown by the Spirit of light within, that this is not his lot for the propitiation of his sin has been procured in the Anointed Salvation of Jehovah. As he grows in the grace and knowledge of His will he sees more clearly the darkness of his deeds in his attempt to keep the law of God, even in ignorance, and the vanity of this world. Then it is revealed unto him that his conduct, although after the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works i the children of disobedience, is unacceptable and contrary to the desires of the inner man. The brighter the light shines, the darker his conduct appears and the greater the struggle becomes between the flesh, who desires the things of this world and the Spirit who hungers and thirsts after righteousness.
Was Paul then appealing to the flesh to deny the very things that sustained it and to crave that which is foreign to it? God forbid. The flesh has well drunk of the old wine and will not straightway desire the new. He has walked in a comfortable way and shall not seek a path that is hedged in with thorns and hewn stones and he knows not the things of the Spirit so as to seek after them at all. Paul was no more exhorting the flesh than Jeremiah was instructing the hands of man to “circumcise yourselves to Jehovah and take away the foreskins of your heart’ (4:4) or Joel was telling the people to tear their chest open and “rend your heart and not your garments and turn unto Jehovah your God” (2:13). These are actions that cannot be performed by the hands of Adam upon himself or anyone else and Paul’s words to the church at Rome are no different.
Casting off the works of darkness requires the ability to discern what they are, why they should be abandoned and how this is accomplished. These works of darkness are not what a person reads, listens to or watches and they have nothing to do with what a person wears, eats or where they live. The works of darkness are the excessive hedonism of Adam, the undisciplined appetites of the flesh and the inability to be at peace with our station and lot in life. They are summed up as the “lust of the flesh and the lust of the eye and the pride of life” (I John 2:16) and Paul calls them, “rioting and drunkenness, chambering and wantonness and strife and envying”. The Spirit would not have instructed Paul to write such things if they did not exist and were of no concern to those who had gained a victory over them. They are the nature of Adam and every child born unto him has the propensity and ability, with great desire, to “gather all together and took his journey into a far country and there wasted his substance with riotous living” (Luke 15:13) in the indulgence of every vice of man. It is only by the grace of God that the children of promise (the house of Jacob) are clothed upon with the armour of light, which is the armour of righteousness, the armour of God, and are made aware of the works of darkness. It is by the Spirit within that causes them to walk after the commandments of God that they earnestly desire to leave these dead works and are made to walk in the light. But God reveals these things to His little flock, precept upon precept, line upon line, a little here and a little there. By this He teaches them knowledge and causes them to understand doctrine. He does this with a stammering lips and another tongue that they do not know which hardens those who cannot hear and comforts those who have been given ears to hear that still small voice. Herein has He made an eternal covenant with His people and has made the foolish to fall off backwards and be broken, snared and taken (Is. 28:9ff).
Those who have been clothed upon with this armour of light shall walk honestly as children of the day for they have been clothed upon with Christ and although they walk in the flesh yet are they at war with the flesh. But the weapons of this warfare are not carnal in the outward appearance of self denial or will worship. They are mighty in God to the pulling down of strongholds of imaginations, every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God and the bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ and having a readiness to revenge all disobedience (II Cor. 10:4). Being thus endowed with the power of God, His children are instructed to “do not take forethought of the flesh for desire” (Rms. 13:14 Gk). This represents a premeditation to the performance of the gratification of the desires of the flesh and a wantonness to depart from the light. Again this is the nature of every son of Adam and is ever before present in the conflict.
These that have been clothed upon with Christ have been clothed upon as He was clothed by Jehovah. Jehovah is the One who directs the work of His people in truth and has made this everlasting covenant with them. he has sown the seed among all nations and all the world shall acknowledge them as the seed which Jehovah has blessed because they have love one for another. And the soul of the Anointed One rejoices before God because, “He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, He hath covered Me with a robe of righteousness”. John saw the new Jerusalem descending from heaven as a bride adorned for her husband and she was arrayed in fine linen pure and white which is the righteousness of the saints, the imputed righteousness of His Anointed. Her walls were made of precious LIVING stones and her walls were called salvation (Is. 60:18). She is adorned exactly as the Bridegroom is for she is ONE with Him and IN Him. Therefore He is adorned “as a bridegroom decketh Himself with ornaments and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels” (Is. 61:10). These are ONE and have always been and IN HIM there is neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, male nor female, for ye are all ONE in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28).
The polluted hands of Adam could only disgrace the purity of these white robes and the best intentions of man fall well short of the glory of God, therefore, these words of warning are not words of advice and exhortation to the earthen vessel we inhabit but the acknowledgement of the corruption and weakness thereof. Only the Spirit knows truth and sees the light, therefore only the power of the Spirit within can pull down, cast out and overcome the vanity of this world and the vileness of the body of this death. What a blessing it shall be when we shall be clothed upon with that house not made with hands that is eternal in the heavens.
Your servant in Christ,
(Elder) Chet Dirkes
January 22, 2012