The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
–Romans 13:12

In Romans 13:12, Paul said, “The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” The alarm has sounded, and it is time to get dressed. Why do we get dressed in the mornings? The reason we get dressed is that the clothing we were wearing at night is not suitable for the day. We wouldn’t dare think about wearing what we wore at night in the daytime. It just wouldn’t be proper.

In this passage, Paul used clothing as a metaphor for behavior. There are certain behaviors that we put off because the night is over. And there are other kinds of behaviors that we need to put on because the day is near. Throughout the Bible, righteousness is often compared to clothing.

The word “righteousness” means a right standing with God. There are two kinds of righteousness in the Bible. One type of righteousness is what we call imputed righteousness. That is the righteousness that God credits to our account the moment we become a Christian. Imputed righteousness is a gift of God the moment we trust in Christ. It is nothing we earn. The Bible describes that kind of righteousness as a garment that God puts on us.

Our righteousness–the very best we can do on our own–is “like a filthy garment” to God, the Bible says (Isaiah 64:6). We can never enter Heaven on our own. But God makes us a deal. He says to us, “You do not have enough righteousness, but I have lots of righteousness. And if you will confess your sin and trust in Jesus to be your Savior, I will put His righteousness around you. And from that point on, when I see you, I will not see your sin. I will see the righteousness of My Son.” Now at that point, we can say, “God, I don’t care. If You don’t accept me the way I am, then forget it.” If we do that, then we will miss eternity with God in Heaven. Or we can humble ourselves and say, “God, I believe what You have said, and in humility, I accept the gift of Your righteousness by trusting in Christ.” The Bible calls that imputed righteousness.

In Philippians 3:9, Paul prayed that he “may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.” Paul wanted the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith in Jesus Christ. That is imputed righteousness. We receive it as a gift.

When the Romans got dressed, they put on two kinds of garments. They had an inner garment and an outer garment. The inner tunic was the foundational garment–what we might call underwear today. It was the foundational garment. Imputed righteousness is the foundational garment that all of us need to enter into Heaven.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “It’s Later Than You Think” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2014.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.