In Charles Dickens Christmas Classic, A Christmas Carol, Mr. Scrooge says, “Humbug! Merry Christmas? What right have you to be merry? What reason do you have to be merry?” Well, there is an answer for Mr. Scrooge, and there is an answer for “Scrooges” everywhere this Advent season because believers, indeed, have every right to be merry at Christmas. Why? Simply because Jesus Christ has appeared! “Scrooge, did you hear that? Christ as appeared!”
In the pages of 1 John 3, Jesus’ appearing is mentioned. John refers to the first Christmas and he does so to encourage believers, those who have been born anew by the Spirit of God. He encourages believers to rejoice and celebrate because of this fundamental and simple fact, Jesus Christ has appeared.
But the question is: “Why did He appear?” He appeared to dispel your sins. That’s what John tells us. He appeared to deal with sin once and for all. Note in 1 John 3:5, And you know that He appeared to take away sins. And in Him there is no sin. Jesus Christ appeared, to carry away, to remove, sins (our sins), to give us forgiveness. To give us a relationship with God. To provide for us escape from the wrath of God, the judgment of God upon our sins. He appeared in order to take away, to remove sins and in Him there is no sin. He is the perfect one. And really the emphasis here in this verse in upon the fact that Jesus Christ, who came to remove our sins, stands against sin. There is no sin in Him. He is holy, He is pure and those who would have their sins taken away; those who are trusting Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of all of their sins, are then called to stand against sin and hate it with the kind of holy hatred that God has for sin. In Him there is no sin.
I like Billy Sunday’s attitude toward sin. Billy Sunday was an evangelist in the early part of this century. He said, “I am against sin. I’ll kick it as long as I have a foot. I’ll fight it as long as I have a fist. I’ll bite it as long as I have a tooth. And when I’m old and footless, and fistless and toothless, I’ll gum it until I go home to glory.” That’s hatred of sin.
You see, this is the time of the year when the release from sins should be a cause of great joy for us. That’s why He appeared to take away our sins and He stands against sin. And those who name His Name are called to stand with Him in a holy hatred of sin. Now you won’t hear much about sin at Christmas but the reality of sin and Jesus having taken away sins is at the heart of Christmas. He appeared to dispel your sins. Because He did that, then, John is saying to believers, don’t compromise with sin. Don’t see how close you can get to it. Stand against it. Don’t practice sin. Don’t continue in it without any sensitivity to God and God’s will for your life. He came to deliver from sins. In fact, He was made to be sin for you, that you might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). He took all of your sins. All of the past, failures, shame, He died for you, He loves you, He cares for you. He won’t let you go. He’ll run after you all the way to the very gates of hell. Jesus Christ has appeared. He appeared to dispel your sins.
He also appeared to destroy the devil’s works. 1 John 3:8, The Son of God appeared for this purpose that He might destroy the works of the devil. He came not only to deal with sins and sinners, but He came to destroy the works of the devil. That word “destroy” means “to render ineffective, to rob of power”. When Jesus Christ came He dealt Satan a death blow. The devil who tempts, who inflames, who deceives, Jesus came to deal with that arch enemy of our souls.
Once a missionary in Africa returned to his house. When he got inside he discovered a huge python. He quickly ran outside to his truck, got a 45 pistol, came back in the house. He was careful, he was quiet, but he got close enough to fire a shot and that bullet hit its mark, and that python was dealt a mortal wound. A bullet right in its head. But the python didn’t die instantly. It began to thrash around. Crashing around that house, knocking things off of tables and counters, wreaking havoc. The missionary had gone outside to stay away. And finally, after a while, the noise died down and he came in and found that python dead. But, in its death throes it had done a lot of damage.
When Jesus Christ came, when He died on the cross, He put a bullet in the head of the devil. The devil is defeated, but he’s still thrashing around. He’s still wreaking havoc of one kind or another. But the devil is defeated and there is no reason for you to accept the devil’s lies. There is no reason for you to follow Satan’s agenda. He is defeated, he is gone, he is done. God calls us to follow the one who is victorious, the one who came to destroy the works of the devil. To follow Jesus Christ, to know Him, accept Him and love Him. The devil would like nothing better in his dying agony to take with him each one of you to hell forever. That’s what he wants. That’s his agenda. That’s his concern, to rob you of your inheritance in Jesus Christ.
That’s why John here says, “He came to destroy the works of the devil. So that not a one would have to be lost in hell forever. The devil is a great liar, the father of lies, the great deceiver and he will deceive you at every turn. He will give you a false assurance, he will use his deception so that you aren’t concerned about eternal life; so that you aren’t concerned about heaven or hell; so that you go on your way not giving much thought to your soul. But one day it will be too late. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil, the call is to cast our lot with Jesus and not accept the lies of a defeated enemy of God.
The devil’s lies are: “You’re good enough. You don’t have to be concerned about hell”; or, “the way to heaven is a broad way, there are many avenues, you don’t need that narrow fundamental, evangelical view.” The devil’s deception is to even say, “Go ahead, trust Christ, give your heart to Him, but you don’t need to do so today. What’s you hurry? Why don’t you live life? Why don’t you enjoy life?. Why don’t you indulge and pamper yourself and live for the immediate? There’ll be enough time later on to get things sorted out with God.” But God’s Word says, Now is the acceptable time. Today is the day of salvation. Don’t put it off. The Bible says, Today, if you would hear His voice, don’t harden your heart. It’s that important, that’s why Christ came, that’s why He appeared.
And then, Jesus appeared to deliver life to you. He appeared to give life. 1 John 4:9, By this the love of God was manifested in us. That God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. Notice, by this the love of God appeared toward us is literally, “appeared”. “Was manifested”, “revealed”, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. That we might have life now, so that we might have life in eternity to come. He appeared to deliver His life to you.
You perhaps have heard the story about the drunk who was on his hands and knees on the sidewalk. He appeared to be looking for something. A friend of his came by and noticed him, came over and asked him what he was doing. He said, “I’ve lost my wallet.” So the friend got down on hands and knees and together they began to look for that wallet and they looked and looked. Finally, the friend said, “Are you sure you lost it here?” The drunk said, “No, I lost it over there, a block or two down.” His friend asked, “You lost, it over there. Why are you looking for it here?” “Because there’s no street light over there!”
People look for life in the wrong places. You have to have the light to find the life. And the light is Jesus Christ. I am the light of the world. And when that light of Jesus Christ shines through His Word and the Holy Spirit calls you through His Word, then you come to know life. The forgiveness of all of your sins. The promise of heaven. The strength to live each day when life gets tough and the discouragement and the stresses press upon you, to know that you have a friend, one who cares deeply for your physical and spiritual needs. He came to deliver life to you, to you personally. No matter who you are, whether you have a church background or not, whether you are rich or poor or in between. No matter what you look like, regardless of your nationality, your race. God has appeared in the person of Jesus Christ to give you life.
Isn’t it interesting that John in his first letter goes out of his way to mention the appearance of Jesus. He appeared to dispel your sins, to carry them away. He appeared to destroy the works of the devil. He appeared to deliver life if you will take it, by faith.
Dad gathered his family together. He gave them his speech. He said, “This Christmas I want you to manage your time better. I want you to watch your spending for gifts. I want you to make up your mind to get along with the relatives when they come. And I want our home to be more congenial this Christmas.” Well after he had given his speech, he ended it with this cry, “Let’s make this the best Christmas ever!” One of his little boys piped up, “But, dad, do you think we could ever improve on the first Christmas?” The little guy had a point. You can’t improve on the first Christmas. We might be able to improve on our ways of celebrating Christmas, but you can’t improve on the first Christmas because of this fact: Jesus Christ has appeared! And, let me ask you, “Does the appearing of Jesus Christ make the difference in your life today?” Because He has appeared are you a better husband, father; a better wife, mother? Because He has appeared are you more concerned for the things of God? Because He has appeared do you know that you have a place in heaven? And are you living with heaven in view, with that kind of perspective? Because He has appeared has that appearing made the difference in your life. You can’t improve on the first Christmas, for Jesus came. And He makes all the difference.
And so to Scrooge, with his bah, humbug stuff, with his question, “How can anyone be merry at Christmas?” we say to him, “Jesus Christ has appeared. That’s why we’re merry. That’s why we rejoice! That’s why we’re enthused — because of His appearing. So Scrooge, Merry Christmas!” And Merry Christmas to you because Jesus appeared!

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