A recurring challenge preachers face is rousing people who have become spiritually complacent and lethargic.
Unbeknownst to any human alive at the time, when the apostle Paul sent this epistle in A. D. 56 the great fire in Rome and the onset of a four-year onslaught against Christians were less than a decade away. Time was of the essence. Any delay in preparing for the tribulation, distress, persecution, deprivation, peril, and death which would be unleashed by the forces of evil in high places was most foolish.
In addition to the customary dangers of the devil on the prowl (1 Peter 5:8), the Christians in Rome were going to face additional hardships and severe spiritual threats to their faithfulness. Soon the somber words of Psalm 44:22 were going to be reality: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”
Because of what we can learn from historians of the first century, it is pretty clear why Paul wrote these terse imperatives with such urgency: “It is high time to awake out of sleep”, “cast off the works of darkness”, “put on the armor of light”, “walk properly”, “put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provisions for the flesh to fulfill its lusts” (Romans 13:11-14).
The time to prepare for the unexpected is today. You never know how soon the unexpected may become your reality.