Seaborn Hall, 5/17/18
Repentance Is Setting A Boundary And Moving In The Opposite Direction
But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts. (Rom 13:14 NAS95) ἀλλὰ ἐνδύσασθε τὸν κύριον Ἰησοῦν Χριστόν, καὶ τῆς σαρκὸς πρόνοιαν μὴ ποιεῖσθε εἰς ἐπιθυμίας. (Rom 13:14 GNT-WH)
Romans 13:14 doesn’t include any word for repentance or boundary, but this is what repentance looks like – setting a boundary and moving in the opposite direction from temptation and sin.
To Put On Christ Is A Definitive Act
The most important thing here is to put on the Lord Jesus Christ. The Greek word for “put on” (Gr. ἐνδύσασθε/endusasthe) means to put on as if you were putting on clothes, a shirt, pants, or a coat. To put on clothes you have to take off what you have on, go to the closet or drawer, get out the clothes, and put them on.
In other words, it involves a definite act or decision and a little time and effort. Putting on Christ like you do a pair of clothes involves abiding in Him, coming to Him, seeking Him every day. You can not put on Christ without any interaction with Him. This is not some mental picture or theoretical act. It is a definite, decisive action that ‘clothes’ all that you are and do in Him.
To Set A Boundary Means To Make No Place For Sin Or Temptation
The second part of the verse emphasizes that the flesh is not to be given any place. The implication is that no forethought will be given a chance to take root and grow. The New American Standard translation is perfect: Make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts. In other words, set a boundary around yourself so that you aren’t even giving your desire or lust an opportunity to take root and grow. You move in the opposite direction from it.
This is not legalism, but wisdom.
In Jewish thought there was a known practice of setting a boundary or fence around the law that was even greater than what the law required. In this way, the practitioner made sure that they didn’t even have a chance to break the law. The same thought is behind Romans 13:14.
Jesus says in Matthew 5, if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. If your hand causes you to stumble cut it off. He wasn’t talking about eyes or hands, but about boundaries in the context of sexual temptation. If you are tempted to have an affair with a co-worker – or you are already having one – you may have to change jobs (cut off your hand). If you are in a small group with someone that you’re tempted to have an affair with – change small groups!
This Is What Repentance Looks Like
When I was in seminary a friend of a friend, also in seminary, was having an affair with another student. His wife found out. As payment for staying in the marriage she laid down the law – no contact with the other person ever again and he had to account for his activities and location wherever he was and whatever he was doing for the next year. Twenty years later their marriage is thriving and the affair is a distant memory. They created a boundary around sin, made no provision for the flesh, and gave first place to their relationship and moved in the opposite direction from sin.
It is better to create a boundary around sin so that you are not even tempted to commit sin than to allow yourself to be dragged down into hell for the sake of temporal pleasure.
Again, this is not legalism – it is wisdom. We are to know ourselves and not deceive ourselves.
Each person may be different, but the standard and calling is the same towards us all.