Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.
Why do we anticipate Christmas with such relish? For the believer, the answer must surely lie, above all, in the awareness that Jesus Christ appeared to take away our sins.
When we read the Gospel writers, we discover this truth at the very heart of their Christmas message. Matthew recorded the words of the angel to Joseph: “[Mary] will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Ahead of what might be regarded as the first ever Christmas concert, the message the angel gave to the shepherds was similar: “I bring you 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” (Luke 2:10-11). John began from a different vantage point. As he highlighted the commencement of Jesus’ earthly ministry, having raised our gaze to the eternal Word becoming flesh (John 1:14), he gave us the words of John the Baptist: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (v 29). And Mark records nothing of Jesus’ birth or childhood, but in his Gospel Jesus’ first words are an announcement that in Him the kingdom of God has come near to people like us (Mark 1:15), and in one of His first miracles Jesus assures a paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven” (2:5).
If we say that God has shown His love for us in the incarnation, that is accurate but insufficient. God demonstrated His love for us not simply by sending Jesus as a baby in Bethlehem; rather, His own word tells us that “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, emphasis added).
Of course, if we understand that Christ came to take away our sins, then it’s only logical to conclude that we have sins which need to be taken away. Rare is the man or woman who would say that he or she has never done wrong! We all have impure thoughts. We all speak bitter words. We all know what it is to live an unholy life. But the word of God comes to us and says, Here is the good news: Christ appeared in this world to take away your sins.
Today, lay hold of this message with renewed joy and gratitude. Let these eight words be the most precious part of your Christmas season: “He appeared in order to take away sins.” Your friends, coworkers, and neighbors may be more open to the gospel message during the holiday season; make it your aim, then, not to further the misguided perception that Christmas is nothing more than a sentimental emblem of God’s love, as though His Son lay gurgling in the manger but never hung in agony on the cross. God’s love can only be fully explained in the purpose of Christ’s coming: to take away our sins. This, and this above all, is what gives our hearts bountiful cause for celebration!
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Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotional by Alistair Begg, published by The Good Book Company, thegoodbook.com. Used by Truth For Life with permission. Copyright © 2021, The Good Book Company.