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Christmas message: Devil defeated

Hartzell

“Jesus is the reason for the season.” I grew up hearing that phrase every year at Christmastime, and, of course, it’s true. Celebrating the birth of Jesus is the true reason for the Christmas season.

However, there is a whole cast of colorful characters at Christmas that also seem to share the spotlight, some factual and some fictional. These characters include St. Nicholas (the literal person), Santa Claus, Frosty, Rudolph, Buddy the Elf and the devil.

Wait! The devil? This is Christmas, not Halloween. What does the devil have to do with Christmas? Satan has more to do with the purpose of Christmas than we might realize on the surface level.

The Bible tells us many reasons why Jesus, the eternal son of God, emptied himself and came to live among sinful humanity. 1 John 3:8 says, “He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.”

Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil. Just what are the devil’s works and what does he do? 1 Peter 5:8 tells us that “your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” We must be sure the devil is an enemy to everyone and a friend to no one. He is on the hunt looking for people to devour, destroy and ruin.

How does he do this? Jesus tells us in John 10:10 that the devil is a thief and that “the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.”

Everyone has a weakness that the devil loves to exploit. The weakness can be something blatantly obvious like a substance addiction, problem with pornography, promiscuous lifestyle or a violent nature. Other weaknesses are not so obvious, like an ego problem, jealousy, or an unforgiving spirit.

The devil will do everything he can to set up opportunities in which we will give into those temptations and act on our weaknesses. When we do so, we believe that they will bring us comfort and pleasure. However, the pleasure doesn’t last long, the trap is set, and, like a lion, the devil oppresses us and consumes us.

Thankfully, Jesus came to release us from the bondage of sin and to give us the kind of quality of life that was originally intended for us. Acts 10:38 says, “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.”

This passage shows very different purposes that Jesus and Satan have for humanity. Satan oppresses people. He does this, as we read, by stealing, killing and destroying. He wants to steal people’s hopes, kill their future and destroy their lives. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil by healing those under oppression and giving them eternal life.

In Mark 10:45, Jesus tells us yet another reason why he came to Earth. He said, “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.”

But though Jesus came to heal the oppressed and destroy the works of the devil by dying on the cross, it is not an automatic guarantee that every person will be delivered, set free and saved. In order for a person to receive these things, they must believe. Acts 16:31 says, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.” Salvation includes many benefits such as peace with God, forgiveness of sin and healing from the oppression and destruction of the devil.

This year, as we celebrate our many Christmas traditions, take time away from school and work, watch old movies and visit relatives, let’s take time to remember the birth of Jesus Christ, the true reason for Christmas. Let’s also remember that the little baby in the manger is the mighty, eternal begotten son of God that came to destroy the works of the devil and bring us the greatest gift of all, eternal life.

Sean Hartzell is associate pastor at New Hope Christian Center in Waterloo. If you are interested in submitting a column (750 words or less), send it to Terri Richardson, The Journal Gazette, 600 W. Main St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802; fax 461-8893 or email trich@jg.net. Include your name, religious organization and a phone number where you can be reached. For more information, call 461-8304.

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