But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. (1 John 3:5)

He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. (1 John 3:8)

The season of Advent takes in the five Sundays prior to Christmas, and Christians view This time as a time of preparation and reflection. We prepare our hearts to joyously celebrate the birthday of our Lord and Savior. It’s a time of reflection in the sense that we pause in the daily routine of life to consider what the Incarnation did.

The importance of Advent can never be overstated; for thousands of years, the holy men of Scripture had looked forward to this very season. The prophets and the psalmists all recognized that somehow, in the economy of God, Advent was at the very center of God’s eternal plan for the redemption of mankind. The messages of the prophets and the songs of the psalmists all throbbed with the certainty that the coming of the Messiah spelled the end of evil’s dominion of God’s creation.

1. Jesus came to destroy the devil’s works, 1 John 3:8

According to the beloved disciple, Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil. The word “appeared” is also translated “manifested” and suggests an existence prior to the appearance. In Jesus, the simple Carpenter from the plains of Galilee was the manifestation in earthly form of the One who had existed long before He was the the simple Carpenter from the plains of Galilee.

The Incarnation, in fact, was not the beginning of God’s work on behalf of sinful man. Since the fall of man, God had been supernaturally moving His creation toward the Incarnation. In the Incarnation, we see the singular act of God whereby He manifested His Son in the flesh of His creation to do in human life and in human history that which He could not have done apart from that manifestation.

The first reason for the Incarnation, then, was to destroy the devil’s works. The devil’s works are all wrapped up in his nature. The devil, Satan by name, is a murder, a liar, a betrayer, the originator of all sin and evil, a lawless rebel whose works are who he is. The work of a murder results in the destruction of life of all kinds. The work of a liar covers up the truth. The work of a betrayer is the corruption of love. The work of a lawless rebel is the breaking of the laws of God and man. These are the works of the devil.

a. The destruction of life.

Satan’s supreme purpose is the destruction of life on its purest level: spiritual life. The destruction of one’s spiritual life results in alienation from God; the end of all hope. In this sense, Satan is truly the slayer of man, for if a man is killed spiritually, he will surely die physically soon thereafter. No human being can live for long without hope, and the greatest, most powerful source of hope is found in Jesus Christ. Satan comes into man’s life to spoil it, to zap hope and optimism from that person, to blind him to the reality of God, rendering him open to all manner disease and death in the physical realm.

b. The covering up of the truth.

Satan is a liar and he is an expert and blinding man to God’s truth. When this happens, a person stumbles and bumbles and blunders his whole life, going from failure to failure. It’s hard to believe, but all of man’s ignorance, his despair, his trackless wanderings, and goal-less living are due to Satan’s extinguishing of spiritual light in the soul of man.  Remember:

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. (Proverbs 9:10)

c. Satan, being not only the greatest sinner of all, is the originator of all sin and lawlessness.

Do you ever wonder where people get the ideas to commit the horrible acts of evil they commit? All these things–murder, rape, adultery—all those things come from one mind: Satan’s. The Son of God appeared to destroy all those works. Christmas is not merely the celebration of the birth of the Christ Child, but a commemoration of the entrance into the sphere of mankind the One is capable of destroying the works of the devil. To “destroy” really means “to loosen” or “to dissolve.” Jesus Christ came to do a special work in the human heart whereby the works of the devil would lose their power over us. He came to destroy hatred with love. He came to destroy rebellion with the gift of God’s perfect law. He came to destroy destructive thoughts with a renewed mind. He came to loose, untie, break up, destroy all the negatives of life which bring us down, rob us of hope and joy and make peace an elusive dream.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God in the flesh of man appeared so He could destroy the works of the devil by giving to man the greatest gift of all: life. This is, of course, spiritual life, which results when one is in fellowship with God.

2. Jesus came to take away our sins, 1 John 3:5

If the works of the devil can be summed up with one word, sin, we can say that Jesus came to take away sin. But what does that mean? We could say that “sins” refers to the sum total of all man’s rebellious acts. How many sins do you think that would add up to? There isn’t a human being alive capable of counting up all his sins, let alone the sins of the entire race of which he is a part! To “sin” is to “miss the mark,” or to “come up short,” whether through ignorance or premeditation. But, the word “sins” includes not only all the dark things we do, but also the dark thought we think. It’s all the things that God cannot stand to look at, yet stands between us and Him. All these things, which are so numerous they boggle the mind, Jesus came to take away.

What does it mean, “to take away?” This is not a process, but rather the result. Literally, the text suggests that Jesus came to bear sin upon Himself. He who had no sin of His own came to carry your sin away from you. There is an Old Testament shadow of Christ’s action: the scapegoat. It’s a familiar story; part of the Jewish faith. The scapegoat was provided so that, in highly symbolic fashion, the sins of the nation might be placed on it, and then it was driven into the desert to die, thus removing the sins as far as possible from the people. Jesus Christ came to be our Scapegoat; to lift our sins from our person and to carry them far away from us.

Sin is a terrible thing. It separates man from God, man from man, and even man from himself. It makes you hate, even your own life. Think about it: the one thing you hate most of all in your past is your own sin. How many of us have dreamed about being able to travel back in time to stop ourselves from committing it. To all those honest souls who know their sins and shortcomings, faults and failures, to all those who hate the sin they see in themselves, to all of you who carry the burden of sins long ago committed, know that Jesus Christ appeared to take all that way from you. This might well be the second greatest blessing any human being can receive; second only to salvation, yet a part of it. Jesus was born to some how get underneath my sins, get under my sinful thoughts, my bad attitudes and unholy deeds and lift them off my person and bear them far away.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God in the flesh, is the only Person who can accomplish this miraculous act because He is absolutely perfect in every way, inside and out. He had no sin of His own to worry about. Offering His Son in this way was God’s plan in eternity past.

She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21)

During our Lord’s life, His works were the polar opposite of Satan’s works. He wrought life-changing and life-giving miracles. When you consider what those miracles really accomplished, you realize that in each instance, the recipient of Christ’s grace experienced personally a reversal of the effects of Satan’s work. Think about it: when Jesus healed a disease, it wasn’t a supernatural thing; it was a restoration of man to the his normal physical condition. From the beginning of His ministry, Jesus was taking away the results of sin!

If His life touched individuals, His death touched the entire human race. Remember what John the Baptist said:

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)

Whenever we talk about the work of Jesus, we always end up at the Cross. It wasn’t His birth or His life that saves sinful man, it is His death.

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45)

Who are the many? Hopefully, you are part of “the many.”

Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13, Joel 2:32)

(c)  2011 WitzEnd


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