Romans 13:14 - "Sunnyhill" Herne Bay Evangelical Free Church

Go to content

Main menu:

Sermon Notes > New Testament > Romans
Romans 13:14

"But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires."


"To Put On"

The expression concerns something simple and ordinary, it's an everyday affair isn't it and you understand what it means to put something on. There are several different things that we can and do put on:

  • Clothing, jewellery

  • Make-up

  • Patterns of behaviour

Paul employed the language of "putting on" to describe a number of spiritual realities and in particular to describe how the Christian is to relate to his Master Jesus Christ.

When he wrote to the Galatians Paul spoke of being clothed with Christ in terms of a definitive one-off event:

Gal.3:27 "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ."

Here in Romans he writes about this "clothing with Christ" as being something that we still have to do on a regular ongoing basis:

Rom.13:14 "But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires."

We're not to imagine that Paul contradicted himself or that somehow he didn't know what he was talking about, rather he was emphasising different aspects of what it means to be a Christian. Our salvation is rich and full and as such it covers the past, the present and the future. So if we are Christians we can talk in three tenses about our salvation:

  • In the past tense When we were converted and God declared us righteous in his sight because of Jesus Christ we say that we were saved. At that moment as we came into a faith union with Jesus Christ for the first time we put on Christ to use Paul's Galatians language.

  • In the present tense But our Christian life only began at that moment in time – it is essential that such a beginning take place as no-one can be a Christian without first becoming a Christian by repentance towards God and faith in Jesus Christ – and now that new life, having begun, must be lived out on a day-to-day basis. When we become Christians although God treats us as "not guilty" we do not yet behave as we should and continue to fall short of his standards, put simply we still sin and our need now is that we might go on being saved! Or to use Paul's Roman language we must go on putting on Christ.

  • In the future tense For completeness sake we can also speak of our salvation as a future event. When our earthly pilgrimage ends and we are still looking to Christ his work of salvation on our behalf will be finally brought to fulfilment – we will be saved and that for evermore. While the language of clothing is not specifically used the thought still is as we will be made just like him when he comes and we see him as he is!

In short, the whole Christian life is bound up with Jesus Christ – it begins with him, continues with him and is made complete when we are transformed to be like him!
This morning we are focusing our thoughts upon this middle part of the salvation of a Christian – the way in which, having become a Christian, he now leads his life as a Christian, we are thinking about the process of the Christian's sanctification.

What holds our attention as Christian people?
At this stage of his letter Paul is addressing the matter of how men and women who have already become Christians are to live their lives. Whether they make a success of their Christian lives or whether they prove to be failures will depend very largely upon what they habitually look at as being of first importance.

As is usually the case in the Bible the matter is presented to us very simply – it is in fact a straightforward choice between two options.

In the verses immediately preceding our text Paul has drawing attention to some stark alternatives:

  • The Christian is to cast off the works of darkness and put on the armour of light v.12

  • The Christian is to behave properly and not participate in morally degenerate activity v.13

Paul continues his list of contrasting options by calling upon the Christian to focus his attention upon:

  • Our Lord Jesus Christ and not upon

  • Our own fallen, self-centred nature

Indeed Paul tells us the Christian that he must favour the one and work to eliminate the other: v.14.

Why put on Christ?

Now it is one thing for us to know what is required of us but quite another to appreciate just why we're expected to follow that route. I want us to consider for a moment just why it is important for us to put on Christ before going on to think about what it means to put on Christ.

In order to answer the question why we should put on Christ let's start by thinking about some of the different reasons for which we put on other things such as clothing.

We need clothing because it covers us:

  • It hides nakedness and shame

We don't like the thought of being found without clothing do we? In hospital being exposed to the gaze of others involves a loss of dignity that we feel sharply. Strip searches are humiliating. Interrogation techniques have been developed involving the nakedness of the victim because we feel particularly weak and vulnerable in such conditions. Our clothing grants us a measure of confidence as it covers us.

And we will all have to stand before God – it won't be the nakedness of our bodies which will be the issue then for us but the shame of our souls. To be exposed to God's all-seeing eye knowing that he clearly sees everything about which we are ashamed and should be ashamed is an awesome prospect. How will we get on if he takes into account every one of our failures, every sordid thought and every dubious motive? How will be do when he sees our every act committed and all the good things we could and should have done left undone?

We will stand in need of clothing in that day, we will need something to cover us over and to hide our shame and the poverty of our nakedness! No physical clothing will do but we will need a moral cover, and as we can't produce the righteousness covering for ourselves we will need the righteousness of another to cloak us.

That is why we need to put on the Lord Jesus Christ!

We need clothing because it protects us:

  • It protects – against all sorts of dangers. I protects against the weather eg. the cold, from the sun, from the wet. The soldier wears protective clothing such as body armour, helmet, goggles; the gardener wears thick gloves against thorns and nettles etc.; the housewife wears her pinny to keep her regular clothes clean and she wears gloves when using chemical cleaning materials.

As we live our lives in the world everyday we are assaulted constantly by dangers. Our regular clothes protect against some of the ordinary dangers of life. In particularly dangerous circumstances we need to put on extra-special clothing – do you remember seeing TV pictures of nuclear engineers trying to sort out the problems caused to the power stations by the tsunami that hit Japan in 2011? The risks were very severe and the appropriate clothing just had to be worn if life was not to be forfeited.

Our spiritual lives are threatened too on a regular basis and while the dangers might not appear to be great the reality is that our eternal destinies are at stake. Temptations come thick and fast – sometimes with defiant aggression and sometimes with syrupy smoothness. Satan seeks to gain a foothold in our lives, he tries to get us to water down our standards – don't be such a fanatic he whispers and in our world today is there anything worse than being called a fanatic?

We need protection in this life, we need help and strength to stand firm – we need not body-armour but soul-armour – we need to be protected in every part against every possible spiritual danger. Paul had this in mind when he wrote to the Ephesians about putting on the whole armour of God; he had it in mind when he wrote the Thessalonians when he wrote about putting on the breastplate of faith and love, Paul had the same thing it in mind here when he wrote to the Romans.

That is why we must put on the Lord Jesus Christ!

We wear clothing for our appearance:

  • Our appearance - clothes can help us look good and so can other accessories too

There are many occasions when we want to look at our best and we will be careful then about the clothes we wear. Yes, there maybe are times when we get this wrong and perhaps overdress – it's a lot easier to spot in others isn't it? The chap covered in gold chains and bracelets – bling – and we're wary. The lady who is dressed to kill? The young girl experimenting with make-up – she thinks she looks great but to most of us looking on she looks way too theatrical.

I guess we've all taken care about our appearance for some special occasion – a marriage, a job interview. Most of us would probably take a bit of extra care if we were invited to meet the Queen. Well as Christians we meet daily with the King of kings and he appreciates cleanliness and wholesomeness – we're told, for example, that without holiness no-one will see the Lord. Or what about this from the Parable of the Prodigal Son: do you remember what the Father wanted for his newly returned son?

Lk.15:22 "the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:"

In short the Father wanted this son to look good!

Now again for us we're thinking in the spiritual realm – how are we to look good? What pattern can we follow? Who has already pleased the Father that we might imitate him? And you have it don't you?

That is why we must put on Christ.

We need clothing for our identification

  • Our choice of clothing says a lot about us and who we are or would like to be. When I was a schoolboy the uniform I wore identified as belonging to one particular school rather than any other. When some of you did you National Service your uniform marked you out.

The Bible refers to several different sorts of attire that identified the people who wore them. It speaks about widow's garments, royal garments, priestly robes and about soldier's armour. Again in the Bible the type of clothing can also be expressive of the attitude or emotional state of the wearer – sackcloth and ashes speaks of grief and sorrow, garments can be garments of mourning.

But how is the Christian to be identified? Once more you'll understand I have no axe to grind about the choice of our physical clothing – there is no such thing as Christian clothing, though at times Christians have sometimes conformed wittingly or unwittingly to certain stereo-types. I remember a friend of mine who had been a student at Sheffield university and all the members of the CU Exec. attended one meeting wearing beards and dressed in white Aran sweaters! Such outward conformity is not important and in fact can appear rather silly. No, the Christian is to be identified by his likeness to Christ. That is why at times you've been far from home, possibly in a totally different culture from your own and you've recognised something familiar about another person – it's not his or her clothing but still there is something familiar, then it hits you – it's a family resemblance, there's something about them that makes you think of the Lord Jesus Christ, something in their attitudes, their behaviour etc. Living for Jesus makes a difference and others will notice.

That is why we must put on the Lord Jesus Christ.

What does it mean to put on the Lord Jesus Christ?
There are two different aspects to this and both are vitally important:


In his little commentary Stuart Olyott put it this way:

"Emulate, copy and imitate him. You enjoy your union with him, so live accordingly and be like him. And proceed to the work of mortification. Do not make any provision for the old master. Cut out everything that makes sin easy or likely. Kill off everything which makes yielding to temptation easier, and resistance to it harder."

Indeed time and time again the qualities to which the Christian is called to aspire read like descriptions of Jesus' own character. Have you noticed that? Listen to another example taken this time from Paul's letter to the Colossians:

Col.3:12, 14 "Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience… And above all these put on love"

Thus part of what it means to put on the Lord Jesus Christ is to become more and more like him. We are not to do this in a hypocritical manner as some form of spiritual role play but we are to be serious in our desires. As Jesus taught his early disciples:

Mt 10:25 "It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master."

This will be an ongoing thing for us as we will never in this life attain to his perfect standards but with the help of the indwelling Spirit of God there is every reason for us to make good and genuine progress!

What an incredibly high calling this is! As if to emphasise the significance of it all Paul is not content simply to speak about putting on Christ but instead he employs the full title of our Lord Jesus Christ! That suggests that there is more to putting on of Christ than is contained in the idea of becoming increasingly Christlike.

Secondly, putting on the Lord Jesus Christ means:

Putting on Christ himself
This time the emphasis is not upon us becoming something but upon the One we want to emulate himself!

To put on the Lord Jesus Christ means to lay hold of him by faith; to trust him with the whole of our lives; to rest upon him for everything that we stand in need of – the forgiveness of our sins, the gift of a righteous status before God the Father, even the gifts of increasing Christlikeness that we have already been considering. To put on the Lord Jesus Christ in this way means placing ourselves under his generous, warm-hearted rule and to do so with joy and without grudging – let us not be reluctant fearful Christians – the Bible tells us that perfect love casts out fear and we have been loved with the most perfect love ever imaginable!

Putting on Christ will mean that we put him, his interests and his ways at the top of our list of priorities and we will reject any attempt by our old nature to have us dance to the tune of our old selfish, destructive and self-centred nature.

We are finally set free to be ourselves in Christ and to do the right thing.

What a joy and a privilege we ought to recognise it to be to be called upon to put on the Lord Jesus Christ. May it truly be so in our lives.


Back to content | Back to main menu