Is The Modern Christmas Celebration
How Christ Wants Us To Celebrate His Coming? 

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We honor Christ by submitting to Him and His teaching in loving obedient faith.

We honor and celebrate the coming of Christ by submitting to the teaching of Christ.
       
It is well to reflect on the birth of Jesus Christ at any time, but this event should not be divorced from the purpose of his coming to earth.  He came as God in the flesh in order to die as the perfect sacrifice for our sins, to conquer death for us, and to rule in the new kingdom of God for our salvation.  On the night of his birth, an angel proclaimed to shepherds in the field, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (
Lk. 2:10-11). Angels praised God because Christ had come to grant sinners forgiveness of sins, thus reconciling the enemies of God to have peace with God: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Lk. 2:14).

Honor Christ by Submitting to Him in Obedient Faith
       
During the personal ministry of Jesus, crowds flocked to hear him, but he challenged them with this incisive question, “Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (
Lk. 6:46).  After his crucifixion and resurrection, he sent his Apostles to offer salvation to all men who are willing to submit to him:
 

 18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying,
All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:
and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
(
Matt. 28:18-20)


We honor Christ by hearing, believing, and obeying the gospel he provided to save us from our sins. “But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?” (Rom. 10:16). To believe the gospel is to believe Jesus Christ died for our sins and arose from the dead, and to yield to him in “the obedience of faith” (Rom. 1:5; 16:26).  We yield to him by faith when we repent of our sins, confess him as the Son of God, and submit to him in water baptism (Acts 2:38; Rom. 10:10; Mk. 16:16). Thus we are united with Christ as part of his body, his church, or his kingdom (Gal. 3:27; Eph. 1:22-23; 5:5).

“All Things Whatsoever I Have Commanded You”
       
After being baptized into Christ, we begin a new life of learning and obeying all things he commanded.  Saints gather every Sunday to remember his death by eating the Lord’s Supper, to give into the treasury of the local church, to sing, to pray, and to study God’s Word (
Acts 2:42; Eph. 5:19).  Christ is not honored by adding additional ceremonies, celebrations, rituals, and festivals he did not authorize. He said, “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matt. 15:8-9). Christ did not ordain special rituals and ceremonies to remember his birth. Such activities are vain worship. In the name of honoring him, they dishonor him.
       
Living the new life in Christ requires putting off the old sinful ways. This change of life will bring us criticism and suffering at the hands of ungodly people, but God will judge all men who fight against His will. Peter explained in
1 Peter 4:1-5,
 

 1 Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh,
arm yourselves likewise with the same mind:
for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;
 2 That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.
 3 For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will
of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:
 4 Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them
to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you:
 5 Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead.

 

The Christmas season includes religious ceremonies unauthorized by Christ along with harmless secular activities which may be engaged in at any time without sin (singing “Jingle Bells,” family gatherings, etc.). Sad to say, this season also includes many purely carnal practices which defy, denigrate, and dishonor the name of Christ.

Dishonoring Christ Under the Guise of Celebrating His Birth
       
The carnal Christmas celebration includes drinking wine, beer, and liquor of all sorts. Alcoholic drinks will be draped, advertised, and wrapped in Christmas decorations. 
1 Peter 4:3 urges us to no longer participate in “excess of wine, revellings, and banquetings.” “Excess of wine” refers to guzzling alcohol, binge drinking, and drinking contests which stupify the senses. “Revellings” means intoxicated party-making, “wine, women, and song.” “Banquetings” means simply drinking without regard to the amount consumed, sipping the wine, social drinking. 
       
Lasciviousness in many forms will abound throughout the Christmas celebration. Women in shorts, short skirts, and other forms of immodest dress will adorn billboard, T.V., and internet advertisements for everything from automobiles to underclothing. Adam and Eve tried to cover their nakedness with “aprons” covering from the waist to the mid-thighs, but God covered them from their shoulders to their knees with “coats” or “tunics” (
Gen. 3:7, 21). Babylon is pictured as a captive slave or prostitute forced to cross rivers going into exile: “make bare the leg, uncover the thigh....Thy nakedness shall be uncovered, yea, thy shame shall be seen” (Isa. 47:2-3). Even heathen people knew that exposing the thighs was shameful. Much more than thighs will be exposed by people professing to celebrate the birth of Christ!
       
Godly women are to “adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety,” reflecting the beauty of “a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price” (
1 Tim. 2:9; 1 Pet. 3:4). “For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves,” because the basic principle of modest dress has never changed in God’s sight (1 Pet. 3:5). The nature and needs of man do not change with the times.
       
The Christmas season involves a myriad of festive gatherings which invite and incite the loss of self-control. There will be dancing, gambling, lascivious songs, drinking alcohol, drug abuse, and immodest dress – a Satanic cocktail of activities which inflame the desires of the flesh. People passing through these doors will be led to beds of fornication and adultery. In the wake of these sins will come divorces, broken homes, and abandoned families. When the same sins were practiced long ago, often in the name of honoring false gods, Paul admonished the saints of the true God, “Let us walk honestly [decently, NIV], as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof” (
Rom. 13:13-14). We honor Christ by resisting such temptations, not by yielding to them.
       
The season which purportedly celebrates “peace on earth” is actually a season when violence peaks. Police in the state of Victoria, Australia responded to domestic violence calls every ten minutes on Christmas Day in 2010 due to increased stress, alcohol use, and family and financial problems (“It's Christmas, time for a family fight,” The Age, Dec. 22, 2011) (
http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/its-christmas-time-for-a-family-fight-20111222-1p6a2.html [accessed 10-4-2013]. A report on abused women says “the extra stress of the festive period is triggering more frequent and more severe abuse at home” partly because alcohol acts “as a dis-inhibitor for abusive men” (Woman’s Aid, News & Events, Dec. 20, 2010) (http://www.womensaid.ie/newsevents/news/2010/12/20/festive-season-stress-can-trigger-violence-at-home/ [accessed 10-2-2013].  Abusive mates manipulate wives by threatening to ruin Christmas for the children unless they get their way, such as demanding to attend family gatherings in spite of the wife’s fear of danger. Some of these men attend religious services claiming to honor Christ’s birth while filled with attitudes contrary to everything Christ taught.
       
People often make debts they cannot pay in order to provide lavish parties, extravagant trips, gifts, clothes, and decorations. Time would fail us to review the list of sins and crimes involving covetousness associated with Christmas such as envy, jealousy, stealing, lying, embezzling, cheating, pilfering, and otherwise defrauding people. The most basic teachings of Christ are violated in the name of honoring him. “Provide things honest in the sight of all men” (
Rom 12:17).
       
Christ is honored by true loving obedient faith, not by man-made ceremonies and carnality. For many people it would appear that Christmas celebrates the advent of Satan rather than of Christ into the world!

Ron Halbrook

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