Christmas is a great time for the Christian to focus on Jesus.
- Why did Jesus come to earth?
- Why did He die?
Because of our sin. This is why we continually celebrate the Lord’s Supper—so we can recognize that we are desperately wicked people on our way to eternal damnation, but “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8), and we now have the greatest gift of all—Christ in us!
- “the ability to live the Christian life is not related to somebody giving you a pep talk. It is directly related to what you think about God, and what you think about yourself. And if you have a superficial view of God and an elevated view of yourself, you are set up to worship yourself and not God. That is what’s wrong with all man-centered preaching. It does no help, provides no strength against sin. Because your strength against sin does not come from feeling good about yourself, it comes from feeling terrible about yourself, it comes from a broken and contrite heart as we saw in Psalm 51.”—John MacArthur
Isaiah 66:2 tells us that God is attracted to people that are “humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.” And here we see the word “contrite” which means “smitten, maimed, dejected”. Pleasing our Lord is not about feeling good, but about feeling bad, repentant, submissive, and slaying our sin. We do that and we will feel good!
Whenever I discuss this in my devotionals I face who I am because I know what kind of sinner I am. We all put on a façade, of course. None of us walk around blabbing out all of our deepest, darkest sins. That would scare us all away from the fellowship of believers. But, who are you accountable to? Who are you confessing to? Who is/are your prayer partner(s)?
We need to remember that while Christmas is really not important, and as a holiday is quite manmade, it nevertheless was created around the focus of Christ’s First Advent which should draw our view to His Second Advent when He commences to establish His righteous rule on earth. This is what Isaiah 8:19-9:7 discussed briefly. The darkness of sin is oppressive, and depressing if we take our eyes off of Jesus. But, when we stay focused on Him, we see the future blessings and victory for those who are “in Christ”, who persevere until the end because the Holy Spirit dwells within them, who have crucified the flesh daily and have sought God’s righteousness and holiness above all.
But, one more thing to consider—All sin must be slain! It’s not just the supposedly Big Sins that need to be attacked, but the small ones as well. We discussed covetousness last week which is in many ways a small sin, yet it is foundational to self-worship, to disobedience, and while it is the 10thCommandment, it is the root cause of not following the 1stCommandment which is to have no other gods before Jehovah God.
Small sins mean a lot.
This week I have been angry, yelled at my kids, rude, judgmental, impatient, lazy, irresponsible, unloving, and the list goes on. God has been oddly gracious (heck, after my impatience led to getting pulled over for the first time in like 20 years for doing 20 over the speed limit, and then having the cop let me go because I had been in the Marines and had what looked like a nice family (his words), I was prepared to pay the cost of a ticket and points on my license, but was instead reminded that I am graced each day though I don’t deserve any of God’s goodness).
But again, small sins mean a lot.
I have spent time in repentance. But, I know I need to be more intentional about slaying sin in my life and not letting it control me. I need to please God and honor the sacrifice of His Son 2,000 years ago when He humbled Himself by coming to earth to take on the form of a man, to live in a sinful and harsh world, to be hated and scorned, to be falsely set up and accused and punished with death on the cross for my sins. I will have no real peace in my life and no real-life change until I make the purpose for Christ’s first coming (i.e. what we celebrate as Christmas) my focal point.
- Yesterday I mentioned that Santa can be a distraction, especially as he is presented side-by-side with Jesus in the manger. While I am not declaring an anti-Santa movement (I am leaving your interaction with the fabled character to your convictions), I am declaring a pro-Jesus movement.
- In what ways, both now at Christmas as well as the 11 months following, can you focus on Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for your sins? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- I. Corinthians 2:2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.
- We discussed a couple Sundays ago that over 300 prophecies of Messiah’s First Advent were fulfilled by Jesus.
- But, did you know that He has a Second Advent in the future? ___________________________________________________
- Did you know that the Old Testament prophecies about His Advent did not clearly distinguish His First from His Second Coming? ____________________________________________
- It’s funny but facing uncomfortable and bad situations is not the theme most would discuss at Christmas, yet to have the peace of God, the victory of the Christian walk, and the joy we so long to have, we must uncomfortably confront our sin and not ignore it.
- Take time now and ask the Holy Spirit to list out in your head some sins that you have not confessed, have not surrendered to Him. Then, spend time confessing them and asking Him to be Lord of those areas of your life.
- The next step is to utterly remove those things that ensnare you, tempt you, and even enslave you (see Matthew 5:27-30 as Jesus uses strong, figurative language to emphasize the need to be pure).
- This Christmas, remembering that Christ’s gift to you is undeserved eternal life through His blood, think of how you can offer yourself back to Him (on His terms, humble and contrite) as your Christmas gift.
- Romans 12:1-2 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.