"11 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. 12 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. 13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts."
This encouragement and warning... just like a similar one from Peter (2 Pet 3:10-12) comes with a sense of urgency. The Lord is coming... soon. We are one step closer to our salvation today than we were yesterday.
I think it's important to see the bigger picture when we are struggling against temptation. We let go of some immediate pleasure we really really want in order to go for a reward that we can't yet see... and it helps to know that that reward is imminent.
I think the whole discussion of night and day is about secrecy really... People try doing sneaky things in the dark because there's less chance of getting caught. Sigh... I'm all too familiar with that world.
The thing I really want to empahasise in this passage today is about making provisions. We all have lusts... desires to go out and sinfully fulfill our desires. But those lusts are really restricted in causing us any problems unless we make provision for them. Lust needs opportunity and people can spend a lot of time and energy chasing opportunity.
" 17So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more." (Ephesians 4:17-19).
As Christians we are told to take a very opposite position.
"20You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. 21Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." (Ephesians 4:20-23).
We are given a two-fold responsibility. To put away from ourselves the giving in to our lustful passions and to take on the love and fellowship of life in Christ. You can't have one without the other. No amount of self-denial without loving fellowship will get you anywhere... and any attempt at loving fellowship without a surrender of our giving into our lusts will be corrupted by them.
Make no provision... say NO to yourself. It's really not complicated.
It can however become very difficult for one simple reason... we don't want to say "no".
If you have made some provision... if you've got room in your life for giving into some lustful thing... there's only one reason why... you don't want to say "no".
We need to quit saying, "I can't help it... I keep giving in no matter how hard I try" and just admit we don't really want to stop.
Then we can come to God and get the mercy and help we really need to learn to say "no more".
Father, thank You for Your love and grace and mercy towards us. Thank You that You are for us and not against us; that Your heart is to see us repent and succeed and not fail and fall. Where we struggle to put away those things we lust for have mercy on us, deliver us from temptation, deliver us from unwillingness to quit, help us to humbly come to you and say, "not our will but Yours be done". Help us Father to say "no" to those things we need to say "no" to... and be free from any yoke of bondage to sin. I ask these things in Jesus name.