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The Reason for the Season

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The Reason for the Season
25 Nov 18
Turn to 1 John 3:8 and Isaiah 52 and 51
Well, Thanksgiving is over, the chaos of Black Friday has passed, loosened up our belts - my wife saw something on Facebook - turn your scales back 10 pounds. We now we’re about to prepare for Advent. Advent comes from the Latin word, adventus - which means to arrive or to come to. It refers to both a looking back to Christ’s first arrival and a looking forward to His second coming. Advent doesn’t officially begin until next Sunday - which marks the beginning of the liturgical Church year - this is like a pre-Advent ….
The Advent season is designed to narrow our focus on the entrance of the Son of God into our world - again, both past and future. It is designed to cause us to slow down, contemplate, evaluate, remember what has done and will do.
And what is it all about? If Jesus really is the reason for the season, then what is the reason?
We make the season about all kinds of events, festivities, decorations and presents. None of that is necessarily bad or wrong. We do our best to keep Jesus in the season, but even with our best effort, we often miss the reason. The reason is very clear - The Apostle John tells us that
1 John 3:8 NIV
The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.
We can make Christmas about all kinds of things, but if we neglect that foundation the season becomes virtually pointless. We can make Christmas about a baby, about Joseph and Mary and angels, about joy to the world and peace on earth and so on. We can make Christmas about trees, lights and nostalgia - not that any of that is wrong (except Jesus was probably conceived in September of 3 BC, born in June of 2 BC and the Magi probably arrived on December 25, 2 BC) - but again, if we neglect the primary reason for Christ’s arrival - we miss it and Jesus is not the reason for the Season. And the first promise that we have concerning this is in Gen. 3 when God told the serpent that the seed of the woman (Jesus) would crush his head - one day the Son of God will destroy his works.
How much of that truth fits into how we celebrate Christmas?
If Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil, then what are these works? Know that the works of the devil refers to the Devil, devils, spiritual forces of darkness, demonic spirits etc. This is not an exhaustive list, I’m certain, but just a quick scan through Scripture revealed this - the works of the devil are:
* Temptation * Sowing bad seed (i.e. making ungodly disciples) * Sowing doubt
* Sowing sickness * Murder * Lying * Accusing * Oppressing
* Deceiving * Seducing * Scheming * Devouring * Confusing
* Leading astray * Perverting truth * Physical, spiritual & emotional bondage
* Stealing or hindering the Word of God * He’s wicked, evil, and a fraud
* He’s called the serpent of old, the accuser of the saints, the father of lies, the blinder of unbelievers, the anti-Christ, the destroyer, a dragon and he desires our worship and our destruction!
Jesus summarizes that in one sentence:
John 10:10 NIV
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Everything the devil does – the thoughts he puts in our heads, the temptations put he puts in our paths, the messages in which he bombards our society, the subtle enticements to snuggle up close to sin, the power he promises – everything he does is to steal, kill and destroy. Satan, promises a lot, but we have to understand that all his promises, all his enticements, all his “blessings” have one purpose - to steal, kill and destroy. He wants to take humanity down!
Satan wants us to believe he’s not that bad. He wants us to believe that those movies, that music, those friends, and partying and … really aren’t that bad. He wants us to believe we can compromise and still follow Christ. He wants us to believe that God is holding out on us. But listen to me - everything he tells us is a lie and only has one purpose - to steal, kill and destroy. Not or destroy - but and destroy.
If he can’t get you into hell - he wants to make you a weak, miserable, powerless, ignorant Christian on your way to heaven. If he can’t get you into hell, he will do everything he can to steal your joy, your peace, your children and grandchildren - he will kill your relationships and destroy your freedom and the power and authority over him that Christ has given you. If you’re not saved - he’ll do everything he can to keep you on the road to hell.
But wait a minute, I thought Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil - so why is the devil still so powerful? Why is he still wreaking havoc in our world and in our lives? If Christ’s work on the cross was supposedly sufficient, then what’s the deal? Why is Satan still such a powerful foe?
The word destroy in 1 John 3:8 doesn’t mean destroy as in total annihilation.
Destroy means to “render inoperative” or to “rob or deprive of power.”
The devil still has power and is still operating in this world until Christ says times up and He comes back.
Question - when does the devil loose his power? I thought it was at the cross, but apparently not. Do we have to wait until Jesus comes back? We’ll get to that in a moment, but for now, let’s ask this – how did Jesus destroy these works?
If you were to say Jesus died and rose again, you’d be correct. However, what does that mean? Take about 30 seconds, and make a list of everything that Jesus accomplished or secured through His death and resurrection.
Not trying to make anyone feel stupid, but these are words that are essential to the Christian faith. It would do us well to understand them, because in understanding them we will more fully understand and appreciate the cross of Jesus.
So, on the cross, He accomplished or secured for us our
Atonement and forgiveness and pardon of sin
our debt was paid in full
our adoption as sons and daughters of God
our regeneration or new life
our justification - declared not-guilty before God
our victory over death
our reconciliation to God
and all that falls under the category of our redemption
See, redemption deprives the devil of power. How so?
1 John 3:7–8 NIV
Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.
According to John, the world is cut and dry - you’re either of the devil, or of God. Either in Adam’s family, or God’s family. What this comes down to is ownership - who owns whom? And if you don’t like the word ownership, then it’s about authority. Under whose authority do you live - God’s authority of the devil’s? If you don’t like the word authority, then who’s yo daddy? The Father of light and life, or the father of lies and death?
And the only way to be owned by God, under His authority and to have Him as your daddy is through Jesus Christ - and I’ll show you why.
Follow me here …
In Romans 7, the Apostle Paul how sin brings death when we choose to rebel against God’s law. John concurs in 1 John 3 that sin is lawlessness - it is a rebel’s attitude toward God’s laws. So, Paul is writing about how sin brings death - in verse
Romans 7:14 NIV
We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.
Now, who did the selling? Who sold Paul into slavery? Who sells us into slavery? Who puts us under the authority of the devil? I used to think that God did this. We broke His law, then the devil the accuser said to God, “He broke the law - pay up. He’s mine.” And God signed over another soul. In my mind, God was the seller.
Turn to
Isaiah 52:1–3 NIV
Awake, awake, Zion, clothe yourself with strength! Put on your garments of splendor, Jerusalem, the holy city. The uncircumcised and defiled will not enter you again. Shake off your dust; rise up, sit enthroned, Jerusalem. Free yourself from the chains on your neck, Daughter Zion, now a captive. For this is what the Lord says: “You were sold for nothing, and without money you will be redeemed.”
This was written to Israel, but I think this applies to us Gentiles as well. God says, “You were sold for nothing - I didn’t receive a penny - I didn’t receive anything when you went into slavery.”
Turn back to
Isaiah 50:1 NIV
This is what the Lord says: “Where is your mother’s certificate of divorce with which I sent her away? Or to which of my creditors did I sell you? Because of your sins you were sold; because of your transgressions your mother was sent away.
What does this mean? In ancient Israel, a woman could not divorce her husband. She could not issue a certificate of divorce - only the husband could do this. Who is God to Israel? He’s the husband. Scripture says that He led Israel like a bride. So what the LORD is saying here is, “I didn’t issue a certificate of divorce - you did. You chose another husband.”
Then God says, “To which of my creditors did I sell you?” Back in Lev. 25, Israelites could sell themselves as slaves - if they had to make a living, pay a debt, whatever. But instilled into the law was the provision for a family member to eventually redeem the person sold into slavery - to buy them back and restore their freedom.
The rest of verse 1
Isaiah 50:1 NIV
This is what the Lord says: “Where is your mother’s certificate of divorce with which I sent her away? Or to which of my creditors did I sell you? Because of your sins you were sold; because of your transgressions your mother was sent away.
So, who does the selling? We sell ourselves into slavery by our own rebellious choices - by our own sin we move out from under God’s authority and under the devil’s. In commenting on 1 John 3:8,
Augustine wrote, “The devil made no one, he begot no one, he created no one; but whosoever imitates the devil, is, as it were, a child of the devil, through imitating, not through being born of him.”
Under whose authority do you live?
So, how do we get out from under the devil’s authority? Just walk away? Just become a better person? Stop doing bad things and start doing good things? No - Paul said it best -
Romans 7:23–24 NIV
but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?
If we’re not under Christ, we are slaves and slaves cannot go free - they must be freed. They must be redeemed - purchased - paid for in full. And that’s exactly what Jesus meant when he said on the cross, “It is finished.” It’s not about finishing everything I was supposed to do - it meant every payment is paid - it is paid in full! Ever legal right the devil had, every debt we owed is paid in full through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ - it is finished and there is nothing left for us to pay except to receive the gift and the continuing debt to love one another.
If God didn’t sell us to the devil - and He didn’t receive any payment from the devil and He didn’t owe the devil anything - then where does the payment come from?
Romans 8:1–4 NIV
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
God met His own requirements for redemption by paying the price Himself. We owed the debt and He paid it.
Hebrews 2:14–15 NIV
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.
Here’s the question I asked earlier - when does the devil loose his power? And don’t say way back at the cross, because he didn’t. He still has power and authority. What the cross did was give us the means to legally get out from under the devil’s authority.
John 1:12–13 NIV
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
So, again, when does the devil loose his power? When you believe in Christ as your Savior and when you stop giving him power.
1 John 3:8 NIV
The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.
Are you living in that power, that freedom, in that authority?
Have the works of the devil been destroyed in your life?
Repent / Confess / Surrender ….
God rest ye merry, gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember, Christ, our Saviour Was born on Christmas day
To save us all from Satan's power
When we were gone astray
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