Let us pray: Dear Savior, today we ask You stir up our hearts so that we can throw off sin and jealousy. Stir up our hearts to seek You out where You can be found-in Your Word of truth, in baptism, and in the Holy Supper. Stir up our hearts so that we may cling to Your love and forgiveness that You give us in those means of grace. For in the process we will be changed to happy, peace-filled ambassadors of Your love whose consciences are at rest in You. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE COMING CHRISTMAS KING!
TEXT: Romans 13: 11-14
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
Remember that story: “The Emperor Has No Clothes?” In it the emperor of the kingdom has a bunch of lackeys around him who will not tell him the truth-they only tell him what he wants to hear. A tailor is employed to create a wonderful new set of clothes for the emperor for an upcoming parade. Of course, the tailor really doesn’t make a set of clothes at all. He fakes it. And when it is time for the emperor of try on his new outfit he naturally feels naked. But the lackeys around him convince that vain man that although he cannot see his clothes, they do! And those clothes are beautiful! So, the emperor wears them in the parade. Everyone snickers inside at his nude attire, but outwardly they all applaud him until one little boy blurts out the truth: “The emperor has no clothes!”
The moral to the story is that children tell the truth much more often than adults. And that living a delusion is embarrassing at best and can be deadly to one’s pride at worst. Well, today God, Who always tells us the truth tells us a few things we don’t want to hear and a few things we desperately need to hear. As we examine these words of St. Paul let us consider this fact:
THE SINNER HAS NO CLOTHES!-
BUT THE SAINT WEARS GODLY LOVE!
In the verses directly proceeding our lesson St. Paul exhorts us to flee sin-specifically adultery, murder, stealing, and the like. And then he also reminds us to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” For “Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” The Greek word here for “love” is “agape.” That means unconditional, no-strings-attached love. It means God expects you and I to do for others out of an attitude of complete self-sacrifice-without expecting anything in return. It is the love a parent has for their sick child as they clean up after they’ve had the stomach flu. It is the love a spouse has for a wife who is hospitalized.-You put your life on hold to assist them. We’re to exhibit such love toward everyone we meet and come in contact with.
Now comes out text: “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. 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.”
This is a blunt reminder that the sinner has no clothes! All of us are guilty of such behavior. When we’re alone, in the secret darkness when we think no one can see us, we live differently than when judging eyes are watching. And since our hearts are beyond people’s vision, we harbor all sorts of negative behavior within. Earlier this week I visited two of our shut-ins and used this lesson as our devotion. Both of those ladies are in their 90’s and one remarked: “the type of sin changes with age.” How true! 90 year olds don’t usually engage in adultery or sexually immoral conduct. That is something younger folks face. But, they do sometimes have alcohol or drug problems. And they do spend time fondling jealousy and dissension in their hearts. Older folks and younger folks become jealous of another’s attention or lack of it. Since older people have a lot of time on their hands gossip and dissension often mar their lives and block love. Yes, the sinner has no clothes! As we approach God all we can offer Him are our deeds of darkness. This Advent season is the time for you to throw off such wickedness. It is the time to recognize your nakedness before God. Repent. Change your ways. Recognize that each of you has problems. And then embrace Christ Who lovingly clothes you with His love!
“Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” God has something better in mind for all of us than living in guilt and sin. He wants to give us a clean conscience. He wants to give us eternal peace and oneness with Him. And He’s done just that in Jesus Christ. Christ came to earth and was born in a manger to save you. He came to replace your inner evil with His timeless love. God made that great exchange when Christ was nailed to the cross. There God died to pay for your sins. There God made peace with us because we naked sinners cannot make peace on our own with Him. Yes, as the Bible says: “Christ came to save sinners.” Since we’re sinners He came to save us.
But how do we put on His love? How are we clothed with His holiness? How does that “robe of His righteousness” get from His shoulders to our own? Ah, that’s where the means of grace come in! We cannot bridge the gap between us and God, so God bridged the gap for us. In baptism He gives us the forgiveness of sins. He inscribes His name on our foreheads and makes us His children. For in baptism He works faith in our hearts and then enables that faith to cling to Him alone. Likewise in the word of the Gospel and in the Lord’s Supper. In those means of grace He provides us with eternal love and forgiveness. Yes, He feeds us on immortal food-His genuine body and blood-for the forgiveness of sins. Today God clothed little Judy in baptism. Her baptismal gown is a symbol of the Godly clothing she now wears which no one can take away from her. O, she, like you, can choose to take those clothes off. She, like you, can strip off His armor of light and try to walk through life covered only by the nakedness of your own sin. And that’s why going to church, hearing the Word, and communing are so vital! For they are God’s means of preventing our flesh from doing such a stupid thing.
The Sinner Has No Clothes-But The Saint Wears Godly Love! And since God’s love, like Him, is living and active, it, He, daily works on preventing us from tarnishing His armor of light which protects us from temptation. So, continue to turn to Him in thankfulness. Continue to embrace Him in faith. Continue to root out your inner failings. Always look to Him and hope in Him and trust in Him and you’ll never, ever, be eternally embarrassed. Amen