Summary: Purity is to be prized by categorically every one of God’s children. The last text I read puts it in stark terms: If you don’t prize purity, then you’re not a child of God.
In a California neighborhood in 2009 one resident decorated his lawn with a depiction of Jesus shooting Santa Claus with a double-barrel shotgun. Fox News had reported that Jesus points the weapon at Santa’s dead body while Rudolph lays sprawled across the hood of a pick-up truck. The creator, Ron Lake, says the work of art represents the commercialization of Christ. From the outlandish to the simple, however, your family celebrates Christmas, and whatever your history or your memories of Christmas, I want your celebration to value Jesus. Christmas is about the incarnation of Jesus Christ – where God becomes a man. Yet, many have focused on the commercialized aspects of the season so as to dilute the very message of Christ’s arrival in order to suit our own tastes.
The truth behind Christ is that Jesus Christ requires a great deal more than believing in the spirit of Christmas. The first Christmas represents real people who had their lives turned upside down – Mary and Joseph, the Shepherds, and the magi. The first coming of Jesus Christ was a disturbing event of the deepest proportions. Jesus did not come simply to add something extra to life. Instead, He came to deal with your spiritual insolvency where people rightly recognize the debt of their sin is overwhelming. And He intends to dominate more of your time than a two-hour Christmas special once a year. Jesus Christ is none other than God Himself. He came on a deliverance mission, to save sinners, in order to destroy the works of the devil.
Here is Today’s Big Idea: God’s Grace is Effective in Defeating Your Sinful Habits. CHRISTMAS Grace is Effective in Defeating Your Sinful Habits.
Many people, as you know, celebrate not much more than “roasting chestnuts by an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at their noses.” But Christians surely know enough to know that Christmas means more than that. It surely has something to do with Jesus, doesn’t it? But what? This is what Christmas is about: “You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin” (1 John 3:5). John says Christ’s purpose in coming to Bethlehem in one sentence: “You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin” (1 John 3:5). The reality of Christmas is that God’s grace does not produce Christians who are cavalier about sin.
“For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. 15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification” (Romans 6:14-19).
Verse fifteen is a question, which we’ll get to next week. It just about the same question as Paul entertained in verse one. Both verses one and verse fifteen ask, “Doesn’t the grace that Christ offers encourage people to continue to sin?” The question of verse fifteen arises because of Paul’s statement in verse fourteen. It’s verse fourteen that I want us to focus on for the next few minutes.
Even if your fairly new to the Bible, a careful reader will observe Paul sees two distinct alternatives at the end of verse fourteen: “under law” and “under grace.” Verse fourteen presents two ways to live… You can believe in Christmas or you can believe in yourself. You can rely on Christ’s performance or you can rely on your own performance. But you cannot mix and match. You cannot believe in Christmas and yourself. You are either “under law” or “under grace.” But you cannot travel down both roads simultaneously. You must choose your direction at the fork in the road. Paul is writing to believers in Rome with the same intent that Jesus had when He came to Bethlehem – to stamp out sin.
Think of Christmas as firemen coming to extinguish the fire called sin. Jesus’ intention is to extinguish sin. Paul’s intention is to extinguish sin. Or we can say it this way… The intention of the incarnation was to extinguish sin. Christmas is to extinguish sin. So I say again… The reality of Christmas is that God’s grace does not produce Christians who are CAVALIER about sin.