Why Christmas? Jesus Came for War

Christmas is about war. Christmas is a declaration of war from the throne room of heaven. For it is God’s pronouncement of war on Satan Himself. Christmas is about Satan’s destruction. We often think of Christmas in terms of peace. Yet, Christmas is war. Jesus Himself tells us:

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34)

That God came to pronounce war is good news for us. For His coming is for Satan’s destruction. For you to experience the fullest meaning of Christmas, you must discover God is at war.

Who is Satan?

There exists a good deal of skepticism about the existence of Satan himself in our day. As recently as October, 2013, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia revealed he believed in a literal Satan to the surprise of many. Yet, those who take the Bible seriously must also take Satan seriously.

Satan goes by many different names in the Bible: Satan (which means adversary), the devil (accuser), Abaddon (destroyer), the dragon (Revelation 12:3-4), “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4), and Beelzebub (meaning lord of the dwelling) among others (Matthew 12:23). We learn of numerous instances of demon possession when we read the gospels.

Satan’s Origins

When God created the world, the Bible says, He “saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good” (Genesis 3:1). This means that that even the angelic world did not have evil angels at that time. But by the time of Genesis 3, we find that Satan, in the form of a serpent, was tempting Eve to sin (Genesis 3:1-5). Therefore, sometime between the events of Genesis 1:31 and Genesis 3:1, there must have been a rebellion in the angelic world with many angels turning against God and becoming evil. The reason why Satan is considered an angel is because of the words of Jesus who said, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” (Luke 10:18). Satan was the first sinner and every sinner today, without Christ, is his child.

Yet, when Satan rebelled and convinced all of humanity to join Him, there was no trip to the emergency room in Heaven. Why? The Bible does not set Satan up as a kind of anti-God who stands over against God as His equal but polar opposite. Satan does not have equal power to God. He is presented throughout Scripture as a highly superior, spiritually intelligent being, who chose to set himself up as a rival ruler of the universe. Yet, Satan is not a match to God Himself — Satan is not God’s equal.

So why does God keep Satan around? Why doesn’t God destroy the devil? In the end, God will terminate Satan’s existence. One day, God will pick Satan up as if by the nape of his neck and will drop him into eternity’s trash can (Revelation 20:10). Until then, God uses Satan for His greater purposes. It’s not that God is toying with Satan or with humanity. Instead, God chooses to use Satan for a greater good. And while we often question the evil and pain of our day, we trust in God’s good wisdom.

Christmas: A Foray into Satan’s Territory

The Apostle John tells us why the first Christmas occurred. He tells why the shepherds scurried to find the baby Jesus so many years ago:

“You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin” ( 1 John 3:5).

“The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8b).

While North Korea and South Korea famously stand in détente over the 38th parallel, God moves forward boldly through the manger of Bethlehem. He marshals His only Son against the forces of evil. God will not sit idly by doing nothing while children are abused, the weak are sexual exploited, and the corrupt rulers of the world pervert justice to their own ends. As a response to all that is wrong in the world, Jesus declares war on Satan. Christmas is a cause of celebration for the elimination of sin. Christmas is a cause of celebration for the elimination of Satan. This is why Christ really appeared.

Satan Knew 

Satan understood that Christmas meant war. Indeed, the entry of Jesus Christ into human affairs was viewed by the Evil One as bold and brazen attempt against all of his interests. The battle between Satan and God is all over the pages of our New Testament. Shortly after Jesus appeared in Bethlehem, Satan inspired Herod into a fury (Matthew 2:16-18). In order to eliminate the baby Jesus, Herod had all the male children under the age of two killed in Bethlehem. Later, while Jesus is fasting, Satan tempts Jesus on at least three occasions (Luke 4:1-13). At other times throughout Jesus’ public ministry, demons recognize His true identity when even His followers failed to do so (Luke 4:31-37). Satan understood the true meaning of Christmas.

The War is Personal

But the war is also personal. For Christ came to destroy the evil in you as well as the evil in the world. The starting point to becoming a Christ-follower is to admit that there is something inside of you that must be destroyed. The evil in you is just as deadly as the evil outside of you. Christmas means that Christ came to destroy sin everywhere. Jesus came not to destroy you but the evil in you. He comes to change you and to give you a fresh start. Christmas is marvelous because of Christ’s work in you.

Again, Christmas is about war. Christmas is a declaration of war from the throne room of heaven. For it is God’s pronouncement of war on Satan Himself. Join me in celebrating Christmas for the elimination of sin. Join me in celebrate Christmas for the elimination of Satan. This is why Christ really appeared and I am forever grateful.

Programming Note: I am thankful for the ministry of Pastor John Piper. His message on 1 John 3:1-10 served as a catalyst for my ideas.

Three Lessons from Sept 13’s Courthouse Shootings: Part Two of Two

James Ray Palmer opened fire on the courthouse last Tuesday, September 13, here in Van Buren, Arkansas. Many of the people in our community still leave their doors unlocked at night. The tragedy was unexpected and deeply saddening. This past Wednesday’s edition of our local paper, The Press Argus Courier, ran a front page news story featuring the victims. Many of the victims rightly attributed their escape as a miracle from God. In reading through the newspaper clippings over the past week it is noted that Palmer’s rifle jammed as he attempted to shoot at least one person fleeing the courthouse. Additionally, Judge Cottrell twisted his knee two days earlier preventing him from being at his office that afternoon. A court case scheduled for hearing was settled among the disputing parties otherwise more lives would have been endangered.

Yet, still one question remains in the mind of some of the survivors: “Why did I survive?” 

I offered two replies in yesterday’s post and but I want to offer one final reply.

3. Recognize God governs all the events of our lives. This is rarely considered among most of Americans today. Yet, survivors were correct in attempting to ascertain what God was communicating to him and others by sparing their lives. While contemporary Americans speak of fate or destiny, our Puritan forefathers rightly recognized that God governs all things according to His wise and good purposes (Isaiah 46:10). The Bible portrays God as controlling all things in and around us. Because this is so little known in our day, I want to provide you with a sampling of God’s complete providence over our lives:

“I have commanded the ravens to feed you there” (1Kings 17:4)

“I will send swarms of flies on you and your servants” (Exodus 8:21).

“He summoned a famine on the land and broke all supply of bread” (Psalms 105:16).

“He gave them hail for rain” (Psalms 105:32).

“He spoke, and the locusts came” (Psalms 105:34).

“The Lord will whistle for . . . the bee that is in the land of Assyria” (Isaiah 7:18).

“The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord” (Proverbs 16:33).

“The Lord God appointed a plant and made it come up over Jonah” (Jonah 4:6).

“God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered” (Jonah 4:7).

“Even the wind and the sea obey him” (Mark 4:41).

“Even the unclean spirits, and they obey him” (Mark 1:27).

“He upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3).

Some Americans will say, “But I control the events of my life. I make my own choices.” This is the talk of power-inebriated, freedom-loving Americans and not the kind of thoughts you find on the pages of Scripture. God limits the freedom of all His creatures, even Satan (Jude 1:6), to accomplish His own will. Consider when the biblical story of Israel’s King Rehoboam when he rejected the counsel of the older men around him. The Bible records the following commentary, “So the king did not listen to the people, for it was a turn of affairs brought about by God that the Lord might fulfill his word, which he spoke by Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat” (2 Chronicles 10:15). Or consider later in the book when Israel’s rule, King Joash attempted to stop Judah’s ruler, King Amaziah, from going to war against him. Again, the Bible comments, “But Amaziah would not listen, for it was of God, in order that he might give them into the hand of their enemies, because they had sought the gods of Edom” (2 Chronicles 25:20).

Again, we should recognize that there is a God in heaven who governs all things – even tragic events – for His own good purposes. We should be humbled, as well as thankful, for His mercy for us through His Son’s death on the cross on our behalf.

If you missed the first two reasons, go here.