Peace, Love, & Joy | Why the Son Appeared | Christmas Special | Devotional Series | Part 25 of 27 | December 24, 2019

Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.” (1Jn 3:4, ESV) It is funny how passionate YHWH is in the scriptures, to inform us of our lawlessness. It is because, YHWH makes it a point that we understand – Christ came to free us from the slavery of sin. And I suppose, the next verse makes this very clear. “You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.” (v5) And rightfully so, to the ones who are guilty of their lawless – these words will be honey. But to the ones who holds no such conviction of their sins – these words will be sour. So, in one sense it might seem funny or perhaps even overbearing, when we find the scripture repeatedly telling us of our sins. But if Christ is truly whom you desire this season, these words will remain sweet.

Further down the verse, the Apostle John mince no words. He makes sure he makes no mistake, that his readers may not make any mistake, in understanding their spiritual status. I quote: “No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.” (v6) If we believe we are of Christ, it is impossible that we can still persist in old sins. In other words, there are no habitual sins that a Christian relishes in. Why? John rationalizes: “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God.” (v9) But then again, isn’t that all of us? Or perhaps, most of us? I have reason to believe so. Because the scripture says, we are born in sin. And that is our natural condition. But the good news is this. In that same passage, John states: “(but) The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” (v8)

Piper notes: “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin… (in other words) Jesus came into the world to help us stop sinning.” (pg. 50) To further paraphrase, (Piper’s paraphrase of the said scripture is this): the purpose of Christ’s birth was/is to put us out of the business of sinning. And perhaps, in short – that is the purpose of Christmas. Christ came, to save us not just from our old sin, but (also) from the present and the future sin. (1Jn 2:1) I know, old habits die hard. But we shouldn’t forget what Christ said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Mt 19:26, ESV) 


Note: All of Piper’s quotations are from “Good News of Great Joy”


Read previous entries in this Series:

(i) Introduction: What Christ wants this Christmas (ii) December 1: Prepare the Way (iii) December 2: Mary’s Magnificent God (iv) December 3: The Confidence of Redeeming Hope (v) December 4: A Big God for Little People (vi) December 5: What He Willed to do (vii) December 6: Peace to those with whom He is pleased (viii) December 7: Messiah of all (ix) December 8: Christ is Central in Christmas(x) December 9: Two Kinds of Oppositions (xi) December 10: Our Treasure (xii) December 11: Why Jesus came (xiii) December 12: Replacing the Shadows (xiv) December 13: Christ, the Real Thing, the Perfect Priest (xv) December 14: Making Transformation Real (xvi) December 15: Abundant Life (xvii) December 16: An Unlikely Route to Victory (xviii) December 17: Freedom & Joy Secured in Him (xix) December 18: Pass Me Not (xx) December 19: Overcoming the Power of Death (xxi) December 20: Salvation Unites Us (xxii) December 21: LOGOS (xxiii) December 22: The Importance of Awe (xxiv) December 23: Secured from False Preachers

Peace, Love, & Joy | Secured from False Preachers | Christmas Special | Devotional Series | Part 24 of 27 | December 23, 2019

“‘Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.’” – John 10:1-2 (ESV)

Perhaps, this was Jesus’ retort to the false preachers of that time. But I don’t want to delve into the controversial topic such as that. And I suppose, Jesus’ intent in subtly laying the truth was also a way to reach His elect, while condemning the rest, while avoiding unnecessary confrontation. Because further down, He is also quoted as saying – the difference will be laid bare when His sheep follow Him (and not them), because they know His voice. (Jn 10:4)

Matthew Henry writes, “The Pharisees supported themselves in their opposition to Christ with this principle, that they were the pastors of the church, and that Jesus, having no commission from them, was an intruder and an impostor, and therefore the people were bound in duty to stick to then, against him. In opposition to this, Christ here describes who were the false shepherds, and who the true, leaving them to infer what they were.”[1] I found these words very powerful. How crystal clear is the elucidation. The false preachers of that time demanded to hold monopoly over the truth. And their claim for such authority was that ‘they were the pastors of the church’. The end conclusion being, trust them, their false preaching, and turn against Christ – because He speaks differently, and because His truth defies their claim.

Christ warned that there were still many of such preachers to come. Pastors who will try to enter the sheepfold not through the door, but by climbing the other way. These are pastors who will not preach the word (scripture), and these are pastors who will not come through the door (Christ). These are pastors will come claiming miracles, material prosperity, judgement-free Christianity and whatnot; just because they hold a theology degree and a formal career in the pastoral office. It is interesting how Christ’s warning (Mt 7:15) also comes after Him describing the two gates (Mt 7:14) – the narrow which leads to heaven, and the wide which leads to condemnation. The former being Christ (narrow gate).

But why are we discussing a topic so morbid and controversial during the Christmas Season? It is because, only when Christ came – we were given the first hand account of the truth. In the Old Covenant, the truth was delivered to us through the prophets. And there were much room for being lost in translation. The situation so demanded further perseverance. There was also much room for speculation, and much room for being misled. But when Christ came, all opportunities of speculation were laid to rest. Because in the New Covenant (through Christ), we share a much intimate relationship with Him. We do not need a (humanly frail) third party to teach us, or intercede for us. Because in the New Covenant, it is the Holy Spirit that personally illuminates the word for us. (1Jn 2:27) And that is something worth celebrating during Christmas.

How fortunate are we, that Christ (apart from granting us salvation), also secured us from the seduction of false preachers. Truly, “nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 8:39, NLT)   


[1] https://www.christianity.com/bible/commentary.php?com=mh&b=43&c=10


Read previous entries in this Series:

(i) Introduction: What Christ wants this Christmas (ii) December 1: Prepare the Way (iii) December 2: Mary’s Magnificent God (iv) December 3: The Confidence of Redeeming Hope (v) December 4: A Big God for Little People (vi) December 5: What He Willed to do (vii) December 6: Peace to those with whom He is pleased (viii) December 7: Messiah of all (ix) December 8: Christ is Central in Christmas(x) December 9: Two Kinds of Oppositions (xi) December 10: Our Treasure (xii) December 11: Why Jesus came (xiii) December 12: Replacing the Shadows (xiv) December 13: Christ, the Real Thing, the Perfect Priest (xv) December 14: Making Transformation Real (xvi) December 15: Abundant Life (xvii) December 16: An Unlikely Route to Victory (xviii) December 17: Freedom & Joy Secured in Him (xix) December 18: Pass Me Not (xx) December 19: Overcoming the Power of Death (xxi) December 20: Salvation Unites Us (xxii) December 21: LOGOS (xxiii) December 22: The Importance of Awe

Peace, Love, & Joy | The Importance of Awe | Christmas Special | Devotional Series | Part 23 of 27 | December 22, 2019

Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?” – Romans 2:4 (ESV)

During Christmas one time, we were shown a movie on the life of Jesus. I have forgotten the name. But I can still remember one incident very vividly. A girl in my group, who was a few years younger than me, began to cry. She asked the youth leader to please turn off the VCR. Apparently, the crucifixion of Christ was too gory for her to watch. She put her hands over her eyes, and began crying on floor, demanding the movie to be stopped. Her parents came and consoled her. And the rest of us finished the movie. At that time, I thought it was strange. Girls are weakhearted, reasoned my pre-adolescent mind. I even found it amusing. How sensitive, I thought. But now that I am an adult. I have realized, how we who are brought up in a Christian family, can get so desensitised with the crucifixion of Christ. We are so programmed to hear and be taught that Christ died for us – that sometimes it begins to lose its meaning. And perhaps, that is a very dangerous position to be in.

In the Book of Job, we find Job getting slowly withered out, argument after argument. And so, when we reach the end. He goes, all out on God – demanding a justification of why he was suffering without any of his fault. I am sure there might be profound theological or even sophisticated academic explanation of Job’s outburst. But I want to make just one simple observation. We are introduced to Job, in the beginning as a man who ‘fears’ God. And his life is marked by activities of great reverence towards God. But by the end, we find him in a bold tone – demanding justice from God. In other words, Job was so accustomed to his God, that when his troubled overwhelmed him – his fear of God got compromised. He lost his awe over the glory and the majestic of God.

YHWH’s reply to him is also interesting. (Job 38-41) When God responded, His response was not on Job’s queries or demands. To be exact, in YHWH’s response, Job was not even the subject. God rather reminds him, of His sovereign rule. And no. It is not because God did not understand Job. But because Job did not understand God. YHWH puts Job to his place by reminding him, His majestic. Job finally understood. His awe of God returned. And so, along with it, his fear and admiration.

I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.” (Rev 2:3-5, ESV)

When life is overwhelmed by trouble or even simply, by mundaneness, it is so easy to lose sight of God. It is so easy to lose our awe and admiration of God. It is so easy to forget about how faithful God has been towards us. It is so easy to forget about the reason why we first knelt to Him. It is so easy to forget that Christ alone is our satisfaction. It is so easy to get spiritually dull. And this is a very dangerous place to be in. Because dullness trifles the awe-inspiring majestic of God. And that steals, our fear and reverence from Him. But even if you find yourself stuck in such dull phase, I encourage you – God is wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient. Please do not take this for granted. But take advantage of it. And turn to God. I pray and hope that God will inspire our perception of Him (deeper) this season – reminding us of His profound love and grace.  


Read previous entries in this Series:

(i) Introduction: What Christ wants this Christmas (ii) December 1: Prepare the Way (iii) December 2: Mary’s Magnificent God (iv) December 3: The Confidence of Redeeming Hope (v) December 4: A Big God for Little People (vi) December 5: What He Willed to do (vii) December 6: Peace to those with whom He is pleased (viii) December 7: Messiah of all (ix) December 8: Christ is Central in Christmas(x) December 9: Two Kinds of Oppositions (xi) December 10: Our Treasure (xii) December 11: Why Jesus came (xiii) December 12: Replacing the Shadows (xiv) December 13: Christ, the Real Thing, the Perfect Priest (xv) December 14: Making Transformation Real (xvi) December 15: Abundant Life (xvii) December 16: An Unlikely Route to Victory (xviii) December 17: Freedom & Joy Secured in Him (xix) December 18: Pass Me Not (xx) December 19: Overcoming the Power of Death (xxi) December 20: Salvation Unites Us (xxii) December 21: LOGOS

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