Monday, December 11, 2017

The Christmas Challenge: Day Six

The Challenge

What do people have in their Christmas celebrations, and their lives in general, that is a greater expression of “good news of great joy”[1] than what Jesus the Christ did for us through his coming into the world, laying down his life in love, and securing an eternal victory over sin and death?

The Joyful Solution to Sin

Sin is the great destroyer. It is what makes us different than our created design in the image and likeness of God.[2] As cancer makes someone deadly different from the physically healthy person they want to be, so sin makes us deadly different from the spiritually alive persons God made us to be.

Since sin includes a justice issue, that sin must be condemned and punished, there is no human remedy to our sin problem. The only kind of people in the world are sinful people, and so the only demands of justice we can satisfy are the ones that apply to us alone, and only through bearing the just condemnation of God.[3]

The joyful news of salvation is that God presents an alternative to us paying for our own sin-crimes. It is that he will look after the justice involved in our condemnation;[4] he will present his solution in a gift so saturated with grace that there is nothing more to do but receive it;[5] and those who receive the gift will be healed of their sin-cancer.[6]

Obviously, when people who know the sinfulness of their hearts hear the announcement that God himself has provided a Savior-Redeemer, it is the greatest news ever. To hear that a Savior has been born, and he will grow up to lay down his life for our sins, and we can return to our Creator through his gift of eternal life, and this gift can be received through faith rather than a hopeless system of good works, is “good news of great joy”.

Part of this “good news of great joy” is because we simply know there are no other contenders. Those who are honest enough to admit that the pleasures of sin are so fleeting, and the dopamine deception lasts such a short time, hear of a solution for their sin problem that both forgives all their sins and provides ultimate deliverance from sin, and they know this is the most joyful thing anyone could ever say.

However, once someone receives God’s gift of salvation, there is now the problem of how to live without constantly giving in to sin. Although it is true that God has saved us, we are stilling living in this foreign land of the world in which sin runs rampant.[7] Satan is still working “to steal and kill and destroy”.[8] In other words, temptations abound.

This is where joy comes in to help us in our battle with sin. You see, the Bible agrees with what we all know, that sinners love to “enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.”[9] However, it does not contrast a life of sinful pleasure with a life of righteous unhappiness. Rather, it contrasts the “fleeting” pleasures of sin with the “fullness” of joy that is in God’s presence.[10] The minimal and temporary pleasures of sin are contrasted with the maximum joy of God at whose right hand there are pleasures “forevermore”.[11]

My point is that, what God gives his children to combat the lies and deceptions of the world, the flesh, and the devil, is the “greater joy” of walking in his truth.[12] The people living in darkness have seen a “GREAT” light.[13] The salvation of our souls gives us “JOY UNSPEAKABLE AND FULL OF GLORY”.[14] And such a gift of grace can only be announced in a message of GOOD NEWS OF GREAT JOY that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”[15]

So, no matter what people offer as a perceived contender to God’s joy, it is always going to be some expression of “the fleeting pleasures of sin.” The “good news of great joy” invites you to “joy unspeakable and full of glory” as God delivers you out of that domain of darkness, and transfers you into the kingdom of his beloved Son in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of our sins, and the salvation of our souls.[16]

© 2017 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Luke 2:10
[2] Genesis 1:26-27
[3] John 3:16-18, 36; Romans 3:23; 6:23.
[4] Isaiah 53:4-6
[5] Ephesians 2:8-9
[6] Psalm 103:3; Matthew 4:24; Mark 3:10; Luke 4:40; I John 1:9
[7] Romans 1:18-32; II Timothy 3:2-9
[8] John 10:10
[9] Hebrews 11:24-26. This speaks of Moses rejecting the pleasures of sin because of the greater value of knowing Christ. However, what he rejected, which was, “to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin,” the majority succumb to with reckless abandon. The Bible does not claim that sin is devoid of temporary, fleshly, pleasures. It simply reveals a far greater pleasure, that which can only be found in returning to our Creator. And, the good news of great joy is that such a return is still open to us through faith in Jesus the Christ.
[10] Psalm 16:11, as we have considered on a previous day of the challenge.
[11] Again, Psalm 16:11, using Hebrew rhyming of thoughts to emphasize the glory of the joyful pleasures of God.
[12] III John 1:4
[13] The prophecy of Isaiah 9:2 is fulfilled in Jesus’ coming as testified in Matthew 4:16.
[14] I Peter 1:8-9
[15] Luke 2:10-11
[16] Colossians 1:13-14; I Peter 1:8-9

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