First Sunday in Advent 2018-Putting on Christ
And that knowing the season; that it is now the hour for us to rise from sleep. For now our salvation is nearer than when we believed
The night is passed, and the day is at hand. Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armour of light.
Let us walk honestly, as in the day: not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering [Sexual immorality; lewdness] and impurities, not in contention and envy:
But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh in its concupiscences [lusts]. (Romans 13:11-14)
When I got up this morning I put on my clothes. I put on my clothes with the intention that they would be part of me all this day, that they would go where I go and do what I do. They will cover me and make me presentable to others. That is the purpose of clothes. In the same way, the apostle is saying to us, Put on Jesus Christ when you get up in the morning. Make him a part of your life that day. Intend that he go with you everywhere you go, and that he act through you in everything you do. Call upon his resources. Live your life in Christ.
These words in Romans have forever been made famous by their connection with the conversion of Saint Augustine. Augustine was a young man in the fourth century who lived a wild, carousing life, running around with evil companions, doing everything they were doing. He forbade himself nothing, went into anything and everything. And, as people still do today, he came to hate himself for it. One day he was with his friend in a garden, and he walked up and down, bemoaning his inability to change. O, tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow! How can I free myself from these terrible urges within me that drive me to the things that hurt me! And in his despair, as he walked in the garden, he suddenly heard what he thought was the voice of a child — perhaps some children were playing in the garden next door — and the voice said, Take and read, take and read. He could not remember any children's games with words like that, but the words stuck. He went back to the table and found lying on it a copy of Paul's letter to the Romans. He flipped it open, and these were the words he read: Let us walk honestly, as in the day: not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and impurities, not in contention and envy: But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh in its concupiscences..... Romans 13:13-14a
Augustine said that at that moment he opened his life to Christ. He had known about him, but had never surrendered to him. But that moment he did, and he felt the healing touch from Christ cleansing his life. He was never the same man again. He went on to become one of the greatest Christians of all time.
That is what Jesus Christ is capable of doing. He gives us all the power to love. If we but choose to exercise this power in the moment that needs it, we can release in this world this radical, radical force that has the power to change everything around us. It will change our homes, our lives, our communities, our nations, the world — because a risen Lord is available to us, to live through us.
So what does it look like when we put on Jesus?
1. put ye on humility, and make not provision for the flesh in its concupiscences.
As sin originated in the pride of Lucifer, so our redemption originated in the self-humbling of Jesus. We have as much of the mind of Christ as we have of His humility. This is the infallible gauge of spiritual growth.
The very coming of Jesus to earth from the glory of Heaven is in itself a marvellous demonstration of His humility. But we are told further that, even as a man “He humbled Himself" (Philippians 2:8). "in all things [he was made like unto his brethren" (Hebrews 2:17), He took His place before God as all other men. He became nothing so that God might be everything. This is true humility.
Worldly glory and greatness are measured by a person's position, wealth, accomplishments, family status, etc. But how different is the glory of God as seen in Jesus Christ!
2. put ye on holiness, and make not provision for the flesh in its concupiscences.
Because God is holy, He calls us also to be holy.
But holiness, for a human being, can come only through temptation. Adam was created innocent, without even the knowledge of good and evil. God wanted him to be holy; and for this, God allowed him to be tested.
The Bible says, "My brethren, count it all joy, when you shall fall into divers temptations" (James 1:2), because temptations give us the opportunity to partake of God's holiness (Hebrews 12:10) and become "perfect and entire" (James 1:4).
As we look at the holiness of Jesus, we do not look at that inherent holiness that He had as God, for that would be no example for us. We look at Him as one made like His brethren in all things and tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sinning. (Hebrews 2:17; 4:15).
Jesus is our Forerunner (Hebrews 6:20), Who ran the same race that we have to run, paving the way for us to follow. And so He says to us, "Follow Me" (John 12:26). And looking unto Him Who has run the race ahead of us, we too can run with endurance, without fainting or losing heart (Hebrews 12:1-4).
Jesus endured every temptation that can ever come to any man. He was tempted "in every point, as we are". This is clearly taught in Hebrews 4:15. And this is our encouragement. Jesus exercised no power that is not offered to us by God today. He met and overcame temptation, as a man, in the strength given to Him by His Father through the Holy Spirit.
3. put ye on love, and make not provision for the flesh in its concupiscences.
Consider the glory of Jesus' love, in His speech.
Jesus never belittled others or passed remarks or jokes about them that hurt them. He never made any subtle wounding statements. He never discussed the shortcomings of His disciples behind their backs. It is truly amazing that in three years, He never exposed Judas before the other eleven disciples - for even at the last supper, the eleven could not guess who was going to betray their Master.
Jesus used His tongue to encourage and admonish others, thereby making His tongue an instrument of life in God's Hand. He used His tongue to speak soothing words to the weary (Isaiah 50:4), and also as a sword to cut down the proud and the haughty (Isaiah 49:2).
The love of Jesus was not sentimental. It sought the highest good of others. And so He did not hesitate to give a word of admonition where He saw that there was need for such a word. He rebuked Peter for trying to turn Him away from the cross - and that too with such strong words as, "Get behind Me, Satan"
Jesus was never afraid of speaking the truth, even if it hurt others, for His heart was filled with love for them. He was not concerned whether His reputation for kindness would be lost by speaking strong words. He loved others more than Himself and so He was willing to sacrifice His reputation in order to help them. Therefore He spoke the truth firmly, lest men be ruined eternally. The eternal welfare of men mattered far more to Him than their opinions of Him.
So to put on the Lord Jesus Christ is, among other things, putting on Humility it is putting on Holiness, and it is putting on Love.
Let us walk honestly, as in the day: not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and impurities, not in contention and envy: But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh in its concupiscences.
In other words... Let us be Christ's men and women from head to foot, and give no chance to the flesh to have its fling. That is the way we should be living as a Catholic.