The Spirit of Christmas
It’s December and the spirit of Christmas is everywhere. This is the time of year when people are concerned about being “naughty or nice” and they try live out the one portion of scripture that no one seems to oppose, “peace, good will toward men”.
Lately, I have been reading Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. If you have ever read this Christian classic, then you know Lewis talks about a knowledge that is inherent. I believe it came as the result of sin. Our first parents, Adam and Eve, disobediently ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and their eyes were opened. Where they once knew only God and purity, they instantly had an understanding of good and evil, right and wrong. Now everyone born from Adam is born with a sin nature and this knowledge. (Rom. 5:12).
C.S. Lewis calls it “the law of human nature” and suggests all mankind understands this unseen standard of right and wrong, proven by the fact that we allude to it constantly in our conversations or arguments. For example, we all know it is wrong to cut in line, but do you realize there is no law written that states, “Thou shall not cut in line”? However, we know it is wrong just the same. How and why do we know this? It is innate, inborn as the knowledge of good and evil. Scripture calls it our flesh or carnal mind. The problem is that our flesh is corrupted by sin, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh…for to be carnally minded is death…because the carnal mind is enmity [hostile] against God for it is not subject to the law of God nor can it be. So then those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Rom. 8:5-8)
Nevertheless, at Christmastime, this sinful, fleshly nature can and does masquerade as the spirit of Christmas. For a few weeks out of the year people stop their backbiting and conniving and temporarily choose the good. Some even go to church and sing Christmas carols, but this change is not permanent because come January, it all reverts back to the way it was. True change only comes by fully understanding why we celebrate Christmas.
Most do not remember or even care that there were two trees in the Garden of Eden; the other was the Tree of Life. Adam and Eve were driven from the Garden so that their sinful, fleshly, human nature and eventually ours, could not partake of the Tree of Life, lest we live forever [eternally] in our sin (Gen. 3:22). Let’s face it; none of us want to die. So, how can we earn access to this Tree of Life and live forever? We cannot, unless there is some way to rid ourselves of sin and its penalty – death, physical and spiritual. Either we pay the penalty of death for ourselves, which would defeat our whole purpose of gaining eternal life, or we trust someone to pay it for us.
Now, think about it, special qualifications would be needed for being that “someone” to pay sin’s penalty – death. The first and foremost qualification: He cannot have sin of his own, because that would immediately disqualify him. Secondly, he must be willing to die in your place. So, let me ask you, has there ever been anyone in history born without the sin nature or the blood of Adam? Only one person fits that bill – Jesus. The Bible tells us He was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin (Luke 1:26-38). This meant He did not have the blood of Adam or a sin nature. II Cor. 5:21 says it this way, “…He [God the Father] made Him [Jesus, God the Son] who knew no sin to be sin for us…” Mary and Joseph were given His names as conformation: “Jesus” meaning “Savior” and “Immanuel” translated “God with us” (Luke 1:31, Matt. 1:21). John 1:14 tells us God “became flesh and dwelt among us”. Later, in John 10:17-18 Jesus said, “…I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself...” What these scriptures are proving is that God, Himself, willingly paid the penalty of sin for you. This is the gift of God – “eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23), represented by the Tree of Life and the reason we celebrate Christmas: The Gift of God was born!
This gift, wrapped up in the beautiful package of Jesus Christ, is just like the presents beneath your Christmas tree. So, think about Christmas morning: One present, in particular, has your name, but you do not possess it yet. Not until you pick up that gift, unwrap it, and accept it do you actually possess it. The gift of God is the same. It has been there all the time, just waiting for you to open it by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ and receiving Him into your heart.
If you haven’t, won’t you do that this Christmas season, so the true Spirit of Christmas will indwell you always?
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