Do this, understanding the present time. (Romans 13:11)
We have been doing an inductive study of Romans 13, trying to understand what Paul is saying. Thus far we’ve seen that our civil responsibilities can be summed up in two precepts: “do what is right” and “love your neighbor as yourself.”
Beginning with verse 11 Paul gives the reason for living this way: “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.”
There are two aspects to “the present time.” The first aspect is to understand what is going on in the world around you. We need to wake up to the deception, debauchery and danger of the world system and the lifestyle of the world. Paul says that the hour has come to wake up, implying that Christians often ignore the danger signs and become desensitized to the natural drift of our sinful nature. They are spiritually asleep. In a sin sick world this is always dangerous. So, wake up!
The second thing Paul focuses on regarding “the present time” is “our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.” There are three phases to our salvation. We were saved when we first trusted in Jesus Christ. We are being saved in the sense that we are growing spiritually. And we will be saved when Jesus Christ returns for us and takes us to heaven. It is this third phase that Paul is referring to here. The day of Christ’s return is nearer than when we first believed.
In the short time we have before the day of Christ’s return we should seek to grow spiritually and let our light shine for God’s glory.