Christmas Is For Sinners
SUBJECT: Christmas Is For Sinners!
TEXT: "Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." (1 Timothy 1:15)
INTRODUCTION: Said Jesus on one occasion, just prior to his death: "For this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me." (John 18:37) What is the truth of which Jesus testified when He came into the world?
CONCLUSION: Christmas is for sinners — for respectable sinners with so-called respectable sins and also for repulsive sinners. Everyone stands on the same level at the foot of the cross. Christmas is a good time to receive forgiveness and go on your way rejoicing!
SUBJECT: Christmas Is for Sinners!
TEXT: "Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." (1 Timothy 1:15)
INTRODUCTION: Said Jesus on one occasion, just prior to his death: "For this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me." (John 18:37) What is the truth of which Jesus testified when He carne into the world?
I. Jesus testified to the truth of man's sinful and helpless condition.
Make no mistake about it! Jesus was sinless, but every other person is sinful and in need of forgiveness. Jesus said to His accusers, "Which of you can condemn me of sin?" In Jesus there was no sin at all. Even though He was tempted in all points as we are, yet He never once yielded to the allurements of sin. Jesus' every thought, action, and motive was pure!
To the self-righteous critics who were eager to stone the woman who was caught in adultery, Jesus said, "You who are without sin, you cast the first stone!" (John 8:7) Everyone of these men left, for all knew they were sinful! Said Jesus to the self-righteous persons of His day: "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness." (Matthew 23:27-28)
A spirit of self-sufficiency and pride is one of the terrible characteristics of sin which Jesus often recognized in His dealings with mankind. To the self-righteous Pharisees who prided themselves in their religious achievements, Jesus said, "I have come into the world to give sight to those who are spiritually blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind" The Pharisees who were standing there asked, "Are you saying we are blind?' "If you were blind, you wouldn't be guilty," Jesus replied "But your guilt remains because you claim to know what you are doing." (John 9:39-41, Living Bible)
Notes Barclay, "The man who is conscious of his own blindness, and who longs to see better and to know more, is the man whose eyes can be opened and who can be led more and more deeply into the truth. The man who thinks he knows it all, the man who does not realize that he cannot see, is the man who is truly blind and beyond hope and help. Only the man who realizes his own weakness can become
strong. Only the man who realizes his own blindness can learn to see. Only the man who realizes his own sin can be forgiven." (Barclay's John Vol. 2: pg.50)
II. Jesus testified to the truth of His personal identification with the lost.
Jesus said that He came into the world to seek and to save the lost, to give his life as a ransom for sinners. Jesus was called a "Friend of publicans and sinners." Jesus pictured Himself as the Shepherd in search of the lost sheep.
Said Jesus, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." (Mark 2:17) Even before Jesus was born, the angel spoke to Joseph about Jesus' birth and his mission: "You are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." (Matthew 1:21)
If Jesus was born to die, if Jesus came into the world to redeem His people, if Jesus came to seek and to save the lost, this means that Christmas is for sinners – for those who are helpless, hurt, lost, and wicked!
Jesus' genealogy in Matthew 1 demonstrates Jesus' identification with sinners. Jesus has some 'black sheep' in his family tree. He didn't try to hide this fact. Thamar was an adulteress! Bathsheba was the woman whom David seduced and took deceitfully from Uriah and with whom he committed adultery! Rahab was the harlot of Jericho! All of these women were sinners and yet they were part of Jesus' ancestry! The inclusion of these sinners in Jesus' genealogy shows Jesus' mission of redemption! (Note Matthew 1)
The gift of myrrh which one of the Wise Men from the East presented to the Christ child is a strange gift to give to an infant. Myrrh is used to embalm dead bodies. Giving this gift to Jesus symbolizes the fact that Jesus was born to die – to die as Saviour for sinners! "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved." (John 3:17)
If Christmas is for sinners, then Christmas is not for me if I claim no need for forgiveness for my sins!
Jesus' identification with sinners was at the deepest level – even to the point of dying on a cross for sin. Jesus became mankind's 'sin bearer' when he died on the cross. So much did He identify with mankind's problems (sins) that God turned His face away from Jesus while Jesus died on the cross. Jesus became the 'personification of sin' and, because God is so holy that He cannot even look at sin, Jesus felt terrible rejection even by God. Jesus cried out from the Cross, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me!"
III. Jesus testified to the truth of man's need for deepest repentance and genuine conversion.
Said Jesus to a very religious Jewish leader (Nicodemus), "With all the earnestness I possess I tell you this: Unless you are born again, you can never get into the Kingdom of God." (John 3:3, Living Bible)
"To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: Two men went up to the temple to pray about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men – robbers, evildoers, adulterers – or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.' "But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God have mercy on me, a sinner.' "I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." (Luke 18:9-14)
The purpose for which Christ came (Luke 5:32), and the central message of the Gospel (Acts 3:19) is that men must repent and turn to God if they are to live. God's absolute requirement for salvation is Repentance: "God commandeth all men everywhere to repent." (Acts 17:30 b)
To repent is to change one's mind regarding sin, from one of clinging to sin to one of abhorring sin. A change of mind regarding sin results in a change of direction, from one of following evil ways to one of pursuing godly ways. Repentance is a moral U-turn, turning ones back on sin, and turning one's face toward the Saviour. Turning to Christ is the essence of Biblical Faith and is the positive result of genuine repentance. Repentance and faith must work together if true conversion is to result. Repentance is the proper attitude toward your sin, and faith is the proper attitude toward your Redeemer. Faith is putting yourself in the care of Christ who is able to change your life. Faith is a transfer of trust for salvation from yourself to Christ, who alone can save you!
But you may say, "I am a Christian and you are saying that Christmas is for sinners. Does that mean that Christmas is not for me, a Christian?"
I would answer first that it is great that you are a Christian. A Christian is one who is saved from his sins. Jesus came to save his people from their sins. (Matthew 1) If one habitually and willfully sins, it is true that he is not a Christian. (1 John 3).
But even if you are a Christian, you can identify with your need for daily forgiveness of willful isolated sins, and sins of ignorance, and sins of omission. Repentance is not a once-and-for-all experience, but repentance is a life-time attitude towards all sin (willful or ignorant). Because Christmas is for sinners, and
because all of us need forgiveness every day, we can all identify with the purpose of Christmas – Christians and non-Christians alike.
At Christmas time, we must not have a holier-than-thou attitude towards the unchurched and the unsaved, towards those outsiders who will make their way into our Church at Christmas time and Easter time. Let us be grateful that those sinners who visit our Churches twice a year at least instinctively recognize the fact that Christmas is for sinners – sinners like themselves.
It is only as sinners – unbelievers – see this spirit of humility in Christians that they will turn to our Christ and to our Church.
The following illustrates what we are trying to say. Writes Nancy Covert Smith in her book Journey Out of Nowhere, "One afternoon I picked up a woman at the mental health day care center. I was on FISH call (FISH is an organization of Christians who work together to provide emergency help) and she needed transportation home. She was a tall woman, red-haired, loud-spoken. After she had crawled into the car and we had started, she said:
'You'd better be scared. I'm a mental patient.'" "'I know.' 'Well, aren't you scared I'll hurt you?' She looked at me through a haze of cigarette smoke. 'But I was in the hospital.' "I smiled, 'So was I. 'We were like two children trying to out do each other. "'I had shock treatments,' she said. '"So did I.' '"I had seven.' '"I had fourteen,' I replied. "She looked at me a few minutes, and then she grinned. 'You win. You were sicker. Now let's talk.'" (Journey Out of Nowhere, Nancy Covert Smith, Word; 1973)
Says Robert Andrews who relates this incident, "After I read this I couldn't help but wonder what might happen this Christmas if the following similar scene were to take place. He was a tall man, red-haired, loud-spoken. I saw him on the street and began talking to him about visiting my Church.
"You'd better stay away from me. I'm just a bum." "I know." "Well, aren't you afraid I'll contaminate you or ruin your reputation?" He looked at me through a haze of cigarette smoke. "I'm a real bad sinner." "So am I." We were like two children trying to outdo each other. "I've done thousands of immoral things." "I've committed thousands of sins of pride, self-righteousness and neglect. I've been a hypocrite."
"He looked at me a few minutes. "You win. You're as bad as I am. Let's talk."
Please don't misunderstand what I am trying to say. It is true that Christmas is for sinners, but we are not encouraging Christians to declare, therefore, that Christians are only saved in their sins rather than from their sins. Where sin abounds, grace super abounds. The atonement of Christ is able to cleanse from all sin – original sin and volitional sins (sins caused by wrong choice). We are not suggesting that because Christmas is for sinners, that Christians have a 'sin-fixation' rather than a 'grace-fixation'.
We are not to become preoccupied with sin and self, but we are to become preoccupied with the Saviour, with His power to cleanse from all sin. It is true that we must be aware of our sins – our sins of commission, our sins of omission, our sins of ignorance – but we must not fix our attention on our sins. We must glance at our sins, but we must gaze at our Saviour.
Says Dr. A. J. Muste, "In Neo-orthodoxy when we became obsessed with human helplessness and human corruption instead of being caught up in the transcending of them by the grace of God, we are still preoccupied with self, still self-centered and therefore still self-righteous. If we do not end with the experience of the grace and power of God as that which overcomes and blots out our preoccupation with our sinful selves, we are but giving another demonstration of the pretension and corruption of man, not of the grace of God." (Quoted by E. S. Jones in "Growing Spiritually' pg. 11)
However, even Christians need daily forgiveness. No one comes up to the perfect standards of God. Our attitude as believers must be an attitude of humility and confession. It is only as we continue to have a broken and a contrite and humble spirit that we can have forgiveness on a continuing basis. John wrote, "If we continue to confess our sins, faithful is He and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from every unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned and are now in a state where we do not sin, a liar we are making Him, and His word is not in us." (1 John 1:9-l0) (Wuest)
CONCLUSION: Christmas is for sinners – for respectable sinners with so-called respectable sins and also for repulsive sinners. Everyone stands on the same level at the foot of the cross. Remember, "He hath visited and redeemed his people." (Luke 1:68)
Confess your sins at Christmas time. Christmas is a good time to receive forgiveness and go on your way rejoicing. Whatever your sins are today is the day to confess them. Jesus came to save His people from their sins.
Christmas Is For Sinners
Even though Jesus, as a man, was tempted in all points as other humans are tempted, did he even once yield to temptation and to sin?
Cite scriptures which indicate Jesus' accurate evaluation of mankind's sinful condition. (Note Matthew 23:27-28)
Why is a spirit of humility an absolute prerequisite for spiritual healing? (John 9:39- 41)
Why can it be said that 'Christmas Is For Sinners'?
Why was the strange gift of myrrh, which one of the Wise Men gave to Jesus, so significant as a symbol of Jesus' mission on earth?
As it relates to Jesus' identification with lost mankind, what significance do you attach to Jesus' words from the cross: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me!"?
If repentance is one of the absolute requirements for salvation, how would you describe and define 'Repentance'? (Luke 5:32; Luke 13:3; Luke 18:9-19; Acts 3:19; Acts 17:30)
What is the relationship between 'Faith' and 'Repentance', as these words relate to conditions for personal salvation?
Give your interpretation of the following statement: "Everyone stands on the same level at the foot of the cross."