Jesus, sin and Christmas
By Peter LaBarbera, ASSIST News Service On December 24, 2016
"A man's pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor." (Proverbs 29:23)
December 24, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) - Like most people, I love the sentimental, cultural side of Christmas - the colored miniature lights (I still don't know how to fix it when half the string goes bad); the Christmas tree (must be real); the Santa-themed movies like "Elf" (a family favorite). All that.
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But the true glory and joy of the Christmas season is that it celebrates the coming of "the way, the truth and the life" - the One who is our eternal Savior and Judge of mankind; who defeated sin, Satan and death; and who reigns with His Father in Heaven forever and ever. The resurrected Messiah, Christ Jesus.
A lot more compelling than Santa Claus.
How sad it is that so many people miss this real meaning of Christmas. How tragic that there is now a thriving, alternative, modern version of Christmas that ignores Christ altogether.
I joke with our kids that the one word you may never hear on the Hallmark cable channel - which shamelessly markets Christmas as a key part of its brand - is "Jesus." And yet He is "the reason for the season," as an old slogan put it in trying to remind Americans of the real meaning of Christmas.
Some on the God-hating fringe go so far as to deny Jesus' existence - the very same Jesus to Whom they will answer when they meet their Maker, as past generations used to say matter-of-factly. "Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son." (John 5:22)
I want to talk about sin. Why do that in the joyous Christmas season?
Why not? is the better question. Jesus came to this world to save sinners through the gift of His imputed righteousness and His perfect sacrifice. Yet - 2,000 years later - those essential aspects of His ministry are routinely displaced in favor of a sentimental view of Christ and the holiday celebrating His miraculous birth.
Sin not PC
The S-word - sin - enrages the secular Left and confounds leftist religionists who are trying to redefine Christianity to accommodate one particular trendy sin or another. I find it comical when atheists claim - as many have to me - that they do not believe in sin. That's sort of like saying you do not believe there is a sun and a moon. We all sin, no matter what you call it:
"And this righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no distinction, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. ... " (Romans 3:22-24)
Sin is one of the most politically incorrect concepts in the West today because it cuts against our pride and the presumed autonomy of people who think they answer only to themselves and not to the Creator.
If you minimize sin and its effects (ultimately death and judgment), you also minimize Christ, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)
The bottom line propelling the "culture wars" is that we have an epidemic of people in America refusing to acknowledge their sin and take responsibility for it.
Sin movements, sin "communities"
But it's more than that: in their post-Christian pride, vast movements of people - encouraged by the secular media and man-centered ideologies - seek to redefine or trivialize sin as they reinvent transcendent truth to accommodate their lifestyles apart from God.
This naturally engenders a cultural war against people of faith. Our liberties cannot simultaneously come from God (see the Declaration of Independence) and be based on behavior that God condemns.
One man living out his sincere desire to obey God is another man's "hate." And guess which one the liberal media usually side with?
In a world of subjective "my truths," real Truth - the timeless Truth that transforms lives - goes by the wayside.
In our secularized Western culture, some sins - like fornication, homosexuality, and viewing pornography - are no longer regarded as wrong by vast swaths of people. In fact, leftist activists now promote their destructive agendas in the name of "morality" - and LGBTQ "theologians" protest that homosexuality or "gender identity" is a "gift from God." No blasphemy is beyond the pale for the Left.
There are even "communities" based on sin, such as the "leather community" (sadomasochists), which extols consensual sexual violence and degradation. The liberal media pundits and Hollywood are only getting started in normalizing that one (see this Daily Beast piece extolling S&M in film).
Men and women in their folly, including self-styled "conservatives" and me-first libertarians, purport to define what is right and wrong based on their own feelings and thoughts. But what does Scripture say? "How blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in His commandment." (Psalm 112:1)
Note that the Bible's focus is on God, not man's whims. In our confused and rebellious culture, it is as if truth - small "t" - is determined by opinion polls, making some sins with large constituencies OK. (See Gallup's annual poll showing Americans' steadily climbing embrace of homosexuality and same-sex "marriage.") But Truth is absolute and, like Jesus Christ, does not change.
Due to Adam's fall, we are all sinners by nature - and sinners need a Savior, Jesus Christ. If you doubt our fallen nature, observe toddlers fighting over Christmas presents: nobody had to teach them to be selfish. Why is that?
Are we arrogant, judgmental bigots?
For the last 25 years, I have monitored and opposed what I refer to as a "Sin Movement," the homosexual-bisexual-transgender-etc. lobby. I became involved in this struggle as a young conservative activist writer in Washington, D.C., who saw the Big "Gay" Lie, increasingly fueled by media, and wanted to do something about it. Back then, few were willing to openly and directly criticize the homosexual activist agenda. Today, it's far worse.
That was in the early '90s, and since then the "gay" revolution has largely triumphed in the West, propelling an even more chaotic "trans"/"gender" revolution that reaches down to corrupt even very young children. Further deviancies like the norming of adult-child "sexuality" (pedophilia) are coming - always with the help of a leftist media and Hollywood narrative that glorify sin while boxing out or discrediting biblical Truth.
When is the last time you saw a sympathetic portrayal of an EX-homosexual man like Dean Bailey or a former lesbian like Charlene Cothran in major media - Christians who once thought of themselves as "gay" but who left sinful, destructive behaviors behind? Have you read about (ex-gay porn actor) Joseph Sciambra's amazing story in the secular media? Go ahead, check the Oprah archives!
That's why alternative media ministries like LifeSiteNews are so important and deserve your support. Their light shines in the darkness of a world grown spiritually cold, and they help negate the media's Truth-suffocating, selective editing and leftist censorship.
Because we at LifeSiteNews are committed to the telling the Truth - even very politically incorrect truths like the possibility of change for people who think they are "gay" or "trans"- we are constantly derided and mocked by the Left.
Bigot. Prude. Hater. Judger. Busy-body. Holier than thou. Fundamentalist. Hypocrite. Intolerant. Rigid. Bible thumper. "Christo-fascist." "American Taliban." Homophobe. Transphobe. Repressed homosexual. I've been called them all, like so many who dare to challenge the present sin-tolerant zeitgeist and purveyors of politically correct myths and lies.
Truth is, even with all our flaws, we are none of those. For the most part, Truth-tellers on sexual issues are merely trying to defend God's honor and His revelation (the Bible) in a world that has left Jesus and Truth behind.
We know that although people can choose to embrace sinful lifestyles, they do not get to change the biblical sin standard of right and wrong. That is way above our pay grade as mere fallen creations of a holy God.
I think I speak for most of my colleagues in the pro-family and pro-life world when I say that we do not "judge" arrogantly or unbiblically. Quite the opposite, in fact: As sinners touched by Jesus' love and grace, we humbly extend His forgiveness and grace to others, knowing the awful consequence of rejecting Jesus and remaining in sin: eternal separation from God. (1 Corinthians 6: 9-11)
I once was asked by a "gay" activist if I thought I was "better than" homosexuals. My immediate response was surely not. I too struggle with besetting sins - not the pull of homosexuality - and need the Lord's grace and redemption through Christ just like they do.
Why no "Adultery Pride" parades?
The difference is this: My sins don't get a "pride" parade every June, and if they did, I wouldn't march in it. When it comes to the LGBTQ agenda, I use the "Sexual Sin Substitution Test" as a guide: In any news story or conversation dealing with homosexuality, substitute another sexual sin for "gay" or "homosexual" or "sexual orientation" - then see if it makes sense. Usually it doesn't.
Sin, unfortunately, is what we humans do - or what we choose to dwell on (sinful thoughts). It is why we must repent, continually. Sin is not "who we are." Nobody should be defined by the sins they struggle against, or embrace.
Jesus loves wayward sinners and is filled with compassion toward them. This is what the Pharisees of today's world - like the same in Bible times - cannot comprehend. But Jesus also hates sin. This is what liberal secularists, moral relativists, and modern Religious Left activists cannot admit.
Our Lord saved the woman caught in adultery from a harsh and potentially deadly penalty about to be carried out by fellow sinners who condemned her. He did not condemn her but forgave her. Then He said to the woman, "Go and leave your life of sin." (John 8, NIV version)
This is the essence of our Truth movement: We must strive with a "lowly spirit" to be like Jesus in defending innocent life and biblical Truth on many fronts - even if that means being regarded as radical in a spiritually dying culture. But we also must seek always to reach out to the world in humility with the compassion and radical, merciful love of Christ.
Jesus came to earth as a baby to reconcile us to Himself, through His suffering and resurrection. Now He has "committed to us the [same] message of reconciliation":
"...that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people's sins against them. ... We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Corinthians 5:16-21)
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, fellow Ambassadors!