Christmas is not about gifts and toys and eating lots of food with family and friends.
Now, before you say ‘bah humbug’ and move on, please hear me out.
I’m going to share some thoughts about the true meaning of Christmas in this GraceLife article and some thoughts about the spiritual battle for Christmas in an article in FaithandSelfDefense.com that will publish tomorrow morning.
Ready? Here we go.
I understand why people who are not Christians think of Christmas the way they do. That’s one reason so many people have changed greetings this time of year from ‘Merry Christmas’ to ‘Happy Holidays’ or ‘Seasons Greetings.’
It does take ‘Christ’ out of Christmas. People who are not Christians don’t have to say the word ‘Christ,’ which fits better with their lifestyle and their way of looking at the world (worldview).
They think of Christmas as a ‘Christian’ term and don’t want to use it in a society that becomes more secular every day. Why would people who don’t believe in Jesus Christ want any time of the year to focus on Him? They don’t. They want the holidays to focus on themselves, their family, their friends, their hopes and dreams. Not those of ‘Christians.’
I understand that thinking from people who are not Christians. I used to be an atheist, so I get it. What I don’t get is that same mindset from people who say they are followers of Jesus Christ?
I often hear from people who want to argue that Jesus was not born in Winter, but in Spring. I understand the arguments for both views, but that’s not what I want to address in this article. The FACT is that Jesus was born and it’s how some Christians view His birth that is disturbing.
Errors About Jesus’ Birth
Many people who identify as Christians are, I believe, in error about the birth of Jesus Christ. That’s not good. If we get His birth wrong, we get everything else wrong. If we believe Jesus was born as just a human being and later became a ‘god,’ then we’ve lost the true significance and power of what God has done for us. If we believe Jesus was God’s first creation and blessed above everything else God created, then we’ve also lost the true significance and power of what God has done for us.
Reminds me of what the Apostle Paul wrote Pastor Timothy –
“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!” 2 Timothy 3:1-5
You may be saying, ‘I’m not like that! I believe Jesus was born of a virgin and is God in the flesh.
That’s wonderful! That means your primary focus every day, not just on religious holidays, is to serve Jesus Christ our Lord with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. That means your purpose in life is to love and serve Christ, observe everything He taught His apostles and everything His apostles taught 1st century Christians, and to teach others to obey Christ and the apostles. Right?
If that’s what is truly in our hearts, then Christmas takes on a whole different meaning than what our society, even Christian society, emphasizes as we consider the greatest Gift ever given.
I’ve been a Christian for almost 50 years and a lot has changed in just that half-century. We’ve seen our culture become what some call ‘post-Christian.’ What does that mean and when did that happen? How can our society be ‘post-Christian’ if Christians are still members of a society and Christianity is still true?
Here’s how some people look at being ‘post-Christian.’
“Postchristianity is the loss of the primacy of the Christian worldview in political affairs, especially in the Western world where Christianity had previously flourished, in favor of alternative worldviews such as secularism or nationalism. It includes personal world views, ideologies, religious movements or societies that are no longer rooted in the language and assumptions of Christianity, at least explicitly, although they had previously been in an environment of ubiquitous Christianity (i.e. Christendom).” Postchristianity Wikipedia
“… following the decline of Christianity as a majority religion …” Merriam-Webster
“Britain is now a ‘post-Christian’ country, the former archbishop of Canterbury has declared, as research suggests that the majority of Anglicans and Roman Catholics now feel afraid to express their beliefs.” Former archbishop of Canterbury: We are a post-Christian nation, The Telegraph
“For one, we have to accept that we really are living in a culturally post-Christian nation. The fundamental norms Christians have long been able to depend on no longer exist.” Rod Dreher, The meaning of ‘post-Christian’ is now clearly defined…
“In the post-Christian, post-modern age in which we live, the methods of evangelism have to change in order to keep the mission alive.” 5 Important Ways Evangelism Is Shifting In Our Post-Christian World, Carey Nieuwhof
Let me take a different view of the position for a moment.
I don’t believe what we’re experiencing today is ‘post-Christian.’ In order to be a ‘post-Christian’ society, there has to have been a ‘Christian’ society sometime in the past in order to be ‘post’ Christian now. When was that? Have we ever had a truly ‘Christian’ culture on earth? I don’t think so.
“I do not believe that we’re living in a post-Christian society if you define Christian the way that the New Testament does. When people ask me that, I usually say we’re living in, at best, a pre-Christian society. I don’t think there’s a golden age in the past where there has ever been a nostalgic Christian society.” Russell D. Moore, Do We Live in a Post-Christian Society?
I do define ‘Christian’ the way the New Testament does and don’t see a fully Christian society at anytime in the past 2,000 years. The enemies of Christ are always fighting, opposing, seducing, and deceiving believers and unbelievers.
If there is anything we might call ‘post-Christian,’ it would be the ‘modern church.’ Why do I say that?
There was a time in our distant past when the ‘Church’ was primarily ‘Christian’ in ‘orthodox’ belief and practice. People who identified as followers of The Way (later called Christians) obeyed the teachings of the Lord’s apostles and understood the risks of being ‘Christian’ in the devil’s world (e.g. Luke 4:5-6; Ephesians 2:1-3; Revelation 12:9)
People who identified as Christians in the early days of Christianity knew their beliefs and practices would be dramatically different than those of people living in the world without Christ and that those differences would place them in grave danger –
“If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me.” John 15:19-21
“But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and rulers for My name’s sake. But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony.” Luke 21:12-13
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:10-12
“We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-10
“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.” 1 Peter 2:9-10
Satan’s Lies About Christ
It didn’t take Satan long to establish lies about Jesus Christ inside the early Church. The Lord’s apostles warned Church leaders about the danger within a few decades of Christ’s Resurrection –
“For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.” Acts 20:27-31
“But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.” 2 Peter 2:1-3
“Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.” 1 John 2:18-19
“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” 2 Timothy 3:1-7
What Do Those Lies Have To Do With Christmas?
Christmas (the miraculous Incarnation — the Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ the Eternal Son of God) is at the ‘core’ of Christianity, so Satan attacked it early and often. We will address those attacks in more depth tomorrow in a special companion article on FaithandSelfDefense.com, but here are a few things we can look at now.
If Jesus is as many Christians believe ‘born’ of a virgin and Eternal God ‘in the flesh,’ then His life, death and resurrection had a special meaning that would certainly frighten Satan.
“So the Lord God said to the serpent: ‘Because you have done this, You are cursed more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you shall go, And you shall eat dust All the days of your life. And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.” Genesis 3:14-15
Satan is an extremely powerful angel who ‘bruised’ Jesus’ heel on the Cross, but he learned that the combination of Jesus’ Death and Resurrection ‘bruised’ his head. Satan immediately began attacking the teachings of Christ and His apostles that were at the ‘core’ of the Lord’s victory. The ‘Christmas story’ of the Virgin Birth of God the Son was a primary core teaching. How did Satan do that and when did he begin telling his lies? Very early.
Lie #1 — Jesus didn’t ‘come in the flesh’
John the Apostle wrote about it in his first letter –
“By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.” 1 John 4:2-3
The idea of this early Satanic lie was that the ‘body’ people identified with as Jesus of Nazareth was an illusion, a phantasm, only ‘appearing’ to be physical. How could ‘God come in flesh’?
The belief was and still is by many that the immaterial God could not be ‘born’ physically to a woman, ‘live’ as a physical being in the physical world or ‘die’ a physical death. If the immaterial God could not become material, He could not have ‘risen from the dead’ because He could not die.
Lie #2 — Jesus was God’s ‘first creation,’ but not God Himself
John the Apostle wrote about this in his Gospel –
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” John 1:1-3
Some people even used something Paul wrote to support that heretical belief –
“He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.” Colossians 1:13-18
Some people keyed in on the words “firstborn over all creation” and skipped right over the first words of that sentence – “He is the image of the invisible God.” The Greek is hos estin eikōn tou Theou and means that Jesus was and is the “exact image” of God in physical form.
Jesus being the “firstborn over all creation” doesn’t mean He was born “first,” as in order of births. It means Jesus was “first in position!” The Apostle Paul explained it this way in his letter to the Philippians –
“Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:5-11
Jesus is “equal with God!” When Jesus, God the Son, entered into a body prepared for Him by the Holy Spirit (the Virgin Birth), He took on flesh and became human though He was also God — God in the flesh.
That’s what the writer of Hebrews referred to in what we know as the 10th Chapter –
“Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: ‘Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll— I have come to do your will, my God. First he said, ‘Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them’—though they were offered in accordance with the law. Then he said, ‘Here I am, I have come to do your will.’ He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Hebrews 10:5-10
The blood of bulls and goats could never satisfy God the Father. The Father did not desire them and was not pleased with them, “though they were offered in accordance with the law.” What did satisfy the Father and did please Him was the sacrifice of God the Son on the Cross. God set aside the first (sacrifices of the law) to establish the second (Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross).
How was that made possible? The Virgin Birth — “but a body you prepared for me.” That refers directly to what we read in Luke’s Gospel of how God the Father and God the Holy Spirit prepared a body for God the Son in the womb of the Virgin Mary –
“In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.’ Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.’ ‘How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’ The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.’ ‘I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered. ‘May your word to me be fulfilled.’ Then the angel left her.” Luke 1:26-38
What happened here is that God the Father desired only one physical sacrifice and that was the Physical Sacrifice of God the Son – “but a body you prepared for me.” The Virgin Birth was how God the Father ‘prepared’ a body for His Son. That’s why the Virgin Birth of the Eternal Son of God into a physical body is a ‘core’ belief of Christianity that cannot be denied.
Lie #3 — Jesus was a human born like any other human, but became ‘divine’ (little ‘g’ god) when God ‘adopted’ Him as His Son
People who claim to be followers of Christ and believe this heresy point to several verses in the Gospel accounts to support their belief that God ‘blessed’ the human Jesus of Nazareth and made Jesus His ‘beloved Son.’
Some believe that happened during Jesus’ water baptism when the Spirit of God ”entered’ into the human body of Jesus via the ‘form’ of a dove. They believe it was for the purpose of empowering Jesus to face Satan, teach with great wisdom and work miracles. They believe God’s Spirit ‘abandoned’ Jesus when He died on the Cross.
Others believe God ‘adopted’ the human Jesus as His ‘Son’ when Jesus died on the Cross or when He rose from the dead or when He ascended into Heaven in sight of His disciples.
Is that what we read in the Gospels, Acts and Apostolic Letters?
“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which is translated, ‘God with us.” Matthew 1:23
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made … And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:1-3, 14
“But Jesus answered them, ‘My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.’ Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.” John 5:17-18
“My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.’ Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, ‘Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?’ The Jews answered Him, saying, ‘For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.” John 10:29-33
“And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!’ Then He said to Thomas, ‘Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.’ And Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:26-29
“Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” Acts 20:28
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:5-11
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.” Colossians 1:15-17
“And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory.” 1 Timothy 3:16
None of these verses say that Jesus ‘became’ the Son of God at His water baptism or at His death, resurrection or ascension. They say that Jesus “is” God. He is God from eternity!
It is true that God ‘adopted’ people to be His children (e.g. Ephesians 1:5; Galatians 4:5) and that they will one day experience the end of that adoption – “the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:23). However, nowhere in the Bible do we find the idea that God ‘adopted’ Jesus from the millions of people on earth to be His ‘Son.’
The Raging Battle
Even though none of Satan’s lies about the birth of Christ are supported by the truth in God’s Word, the battle about the Eternal Deity of Jesus Christ rages on. Why and what can we do about it?
Please join us tomorrow morning for our companion article in FaithandSelfDefense.com titled The Battle For Christmas.Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.