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 | What He Willed to do | Christmas Special | Devotional Series | Part 6 of 27 | December 5, 2019

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” – 2 Corinthians 8:9 (ESV)

YHWH moved the government to situate Joseph and Mary, so that Christ could be born in Bethlehem. We always celebrate such divine power, and Sovereign rule of God in that narration of Christmas. But ironically, we also learn that Joseph and Mary failed to find an inn. The skeptic in us is quick to question: if God is so sovereign how come He failed to arrange an inn? Or perhaps, why choose a poor couple? Why wasn’t Christ born in a more influential family? These questions are quite similar to the ones we raise for own sake as well. God if you are so powerful why do you let bad things happen to me? John Piper answers: “the question is not (about) ‘what God could do, but what he willed to do’”. (pg. 9) Of course, there is nothing that God cannot do. But if indeed, He did everything – no purpose, no prophesy of His, would have been fulfilled. We won’t have received salvation, and God wouldn’t been glorified. But it is for our sake, that the KING and LORD of all Creation willed to be born among the lowest of low, and suffered everything a human being could suffer. And in all of these, He showed His divinity in demonstrating blameless obedience to the Father. Why? So that His righteous life could be a substitute for our sinful life – so that salvation could be secured for us.

Similarly, the sufferings we endure in our lives, aren’t just something God allowed, but is something that He has ordained it. “Bless our God, O peoples; let the sound of his praise be heard, who has kept our soul among the living and has not let our feet slip. For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried.” (Ps 66:8-10, ESV) God allows our suffering for our sanctification – so that we could be conformed to His image. “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” (Php 3:8-11, ESV)

But this suffering is a peculiar kind of suffering. It is not the suffering of breaking up with your lover, or that your children are disobedient, or that your business has failed, or that you’re not popular, et cetera… and so on and so forth. This suffering is not the one born of personal folly over personal worries. This suffering that the scriptures are talking about is a suffering that comes from godly sorrow. This is a suffering of the saints – it is the pain of pursuing Christlikeness amidst a Christless world. (2 Cor 7:10)

Summing up. It is true that there is a fair share of suffering allotted to us in our godly sojourn. But the good news is – Christ, who is called Emmanuel – is with us. (Mat 1:23) He not only overseas our sufferings, He also pleads for us for the times we fail (Heb 7:25). And not only that, He also strengthens us so that (2 Cor 12:9) we could endure till the end. So, the next time when the skeptic in us questions God’s sovereignty in our sufferings: let us remind ourselves – it is not about what God can do, but what God wills to do. It is in His will that He chooses to sanctifies us, and conform us, to His image – so that we could be saved.  


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

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