III. Christmas and the (Spiritual) Violation of the Ten Commandments (reverse order)
A. Do Not Covet -- Children learn to covet the gifts of others, to drool over the Christmas catalog, to drag their parents endlessly through toy stores, all in the name of "the Christmas spirit."
B. Do Not Bear False Witness -- "Jesus is the reason for the season!" is the Christian battle cry to "put Christ back in Christmas," when in actuality, there is not only no Biblical warrant for Christmas, but its roots are in pagan worship systems. Nevertheless, professing Christians lie to their children about Santa Claus, the supernatural, sorcerous false "god" of Christmas, whose "gospel" is one of works salvation along with unconditional acceptance and rewards. Parents lie to their children for years about the god-like character of Santa Claus, in effect asking them to trust in a false god and a lie, and then don't understand why later in life their children won't believe and trust in the true God, Jesus Christ.
C. Do Not Steal -- Christmas spending patterns could never stand the test of Biblical stewardship; i.e., Christians, in celebrating Christmas, "steal" the Lord's resources by ignoring their proper use; lavishly spend these resources on worthless and useless trinkets (in many cases); and withhold resources from those in need, while at the same time claiming to never have enough money to buy good Christian books, pay for home schooling, or buy Bible helps for their children. (Christians could also be helping the spiritually needy by buying and giving them tracts, books, etc.) We "steal" from our families what they need and what we owe them in order to buy gifts for those who don't need them.
D. Do Not Commit Adultery -- At this "special" time of the year, lustful thoughts are actually encouraged; e.g., teens are allowed to go to parties and stay out later, thereby having temptations put in front of them that otherwise wouldn't be there. Christmas parties for adults also encourage evil thoughts through the use of the mistletoe, etc. (According to Matt. 5, such thoughts constitute adultery. At the very least, spiritual adultery is encouraged by the "season.")
E. Do Not Murder -- Envy and hate of my brother (which, according to Matt. 5, is equal to murder) because he has more than me or because he receives a larger Christmas bonus than me, is encouraged at Christmas time. We also tend to spiritually sacrifice our children to the "god of Christmas" via greed, selfishness, etc.
F. Honor Father and Mother -- Christmas gift-giving is not an honor to parents; the term "exchanging" gifts (i.e., giving in expectation of a return) is a dead give-away of the mockery associated with this tradition.
G. Remember the Sabbath and Keep It Holy -- Although we recognize that the Lord's Day is not the "Christian Sabbath," clearly the Lord's Day is to be kept for worship and observed as such. Yet when Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, or the day after Christ-mas falls on a Sunday, most churches adjust the Lord's Day to accommodate Christ-mas, usually by canceling the regularly scheduled Sunday evening service. Most of its members are too busy or too tired to attend services anyway.
H. Do Not Take the Lord's Name in Vain -- "Christ" and "mass" are two words that are totally opposite from one another, and to connect the two is to blaspheme the name of Christ. By taking a pagan celebration, "Christianizing" it, and calling it a celebration of the birth of Christ, is most certainly taking the Lord's name in vain. (A good example of the willingness of the professing church to profane the name of the Lord would be the title of a popular children's Christmas concert production -- The Divine Ornament. Imagine, identifying our Lord with a pagan ornament to hang on a pagan tree! What insult! What blasphemy!) In addition, some professing Christians use religion ("Christ's birthday") as a cloak to cover the evils of covetousness, idolatry, greed, immorality, etc. -- all excuses to give vent to evil lusts.
I. Do Not Make Yourself Any Carved Image -- Nativity scenes, "pictures" of Christ, Christmas cards with "pictures" of Jesus, etc., all violate this command. God has given us His Word, not images, to teach us about Christ (1 Pe. 1:23; Dt. 4:12, 15-19).
J. Have No Other Gods Before Me -- The "god of Christmas" is idolatrous! Looking to the Christmas season for happiness, joy, and fulfillment, rather than through a pure, personal, and Biblical relationship with Jesus Christ, is idolatry.
IV. Is a Christian's Decision to Celebrate Christmas a Part of Christian Liberty?
A. Romans 14:1-13 -- This passage is speaking of Jews who were observing the Old Testament Jewish holy days/festivals and dietary laws even though they were now believers in Christ; but they were also judging their Gentile brothers-in-the-Lord who did not observe the Jewish customs. Likewise, the Gentile Christians were judging their Jewish brothers who were seemingly caught-up in ceremonial law. Paul was thusly saying, "To you Gentile Christians -- leave the Jewish Christians alone, because they are not violating any Scriptural commands by their actions (i.e., it's a "disputable" matter [doubtful or gray area] and not a moral issue). To you Jewish Christians -- it's okay for you to observe the Jewish festivals and dietary laws because they were given by God in the Old Testament, and thereby, are considered to be previously approved worship forms, but don't judge your Gentile brothers, because there is no Biblical command for either of you to continue to observe these things." (Actually, it wasn't "okay" [see IV.C. below], but Paul allowed it as an act of an immature/weaker brother [see II.G. above].) If a moral issue is involved (i.e., a practice that is covered in Scripture), then this passage and its application to Christian liberty (i.e., the freedom to engage in practices not prohibited by Scripture) would obviously not apply. And as brought out earlier in this report, the celebration of Christmas appears to be such a moral issue, because its celebration is not only not from God, but is from ancient paganism itself!
B. 1 Corinthians 8:4-13 -- The Gentile Christians, who had been raised in an idolatrous system, were having a problem with their Jewish brothers who were eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols. (Apparently, this was the only "healthy" meat available.) Similar to the Romans 14 passage above, Paul says that eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols is not a moral issue, and thereby, is not prohibited. However, Paul does not say that it is okay to go into the pagan temple itself; in fact, in other passages (1 Cor 10:14, 18-21), Paul specifically prohibits getting involved with the pagan feasts. In other words, it's not a moral issue to partake in the byproducts of a pagan religious system (note, however, that there is no indication here that the Jewish Christians were using the "idol meat" as part of their worship), but it is not okay to partake in the religious system itself (because the corrupt character of the participants would be harmful for believers). Rather, we must be separate from the worldly system (2 Cor 6:14-7:1). Therefore, when items (byproducts) associated with a pagan religious system not only develop religious associations of their own, but have been integrated into what would otherwise be true Christian worship (as the celebration of Christmas has clearly become in our culture), then we should pull away from them so that there is no confusion over our allegiances.
C. Galatians 4:9-10; Colossians 2:16-17 -- Both these passages of Scripture refer to the Jewish holy days under Old Testament law. If Christians were not even to observe the Old Testament holy days -- days that did have divine sanction, for a time -- they certainly don't have the liberty to observe pagan holy days!
D. James 4:11 -- James is saying that Christians may only judge a brother on matters determined in God's Word (i.e., moral issues). If a matter is not covered in the Word, then these are matters of Christian liberty (á la Rom. 14:1-13 and 1 Cor 8:4-13), and he who judges in these areas of Christian liberty is, in effect, judging and condemning the Word of God as being an imperfect standard to which the judge, thereby, refuses to submit. On the other hand, since we have clear Scriptural precept that condemns the things that go on around December 25th in the name of Christ, the celebration of Christmas does not appear to be a matter of liberty, but one of moral conduct.
V. The Right Response
A. Quench Not the Holy Spirit (1 Thes 5:19-22) -- Test all things against the Scripture and line-up beliefs and actions with what is true (i.e., do not treat with contempt the Word of God). If one is convinced that to celebrate Christmas is sin, then he and his family must not compromise with the world or the church by participating in any Christmas celebrations (Rom. 14:23).
B. Avoid Traps of the Devil:
1. Lack of Zeal -- One who never considers why he does certain things, but he just does them because he always has or because his parents always have; one who acts on emotions rather than on facts.
2. Lack of Truth -- One who does things for good reasons and right motives (i.e., plenty of zeal), but not in truth.
C. Realize that Christians Celebrating Christmas as the Day of Christ's Birth Makes No More Sense than Adding Any of the Following Days as Special Days of Christian Celebration: -- (Remember, the Bible's focus on the birth of Christ is for the sole purpose of documenting his virgin birth, his incarnation, and the fulfillment of His prophetic Messiahship. Like the tongue-in-cheek suggestions below, one must also remember that there is no Biblical warrant, precedent, nor precept for the remembrance of the day of Christ's birth as a day of special religious celebration.)
1. Baptism Celebration -- Why not have three days of swimming parties in the summer in order to celebrate/symbolize Christ's three days in the grave? We could even pick a time based upon our speculation of when John the Baptist baptized Jesus!
2. Ascension Celebration -- Why not have one day set aside every year for hot-air balloon rides in order to celebrate Christ's ascension to heaven?
3. Miracle Celebration -- There is considerable Biblical focus on Jesus' miracles (even more than on his birth), so why not have one day set aside every year to celebrate the first of Christ's miracles? And since that was the turning of water into wine (John 2), why not have "Christian" wine-tasting parties?
D. Avoid the Rationalizations that:
1. "Christmas Provides a Festive Time to Share the Gospel" -- One cannot take something condemned in God's Word and "use it" to spread the Gospel; neither will God bless it to spread His Word. Unacceptable worship and the "mixing-in" of unholy/pagan forms is surely not the normal means through which God blesses the faithful. Satan works to blend together his system with God's system, because when unacceptable worship (paganism) is blended with true worship (God's truth), true worship is destroyed. In fact, any time one mixes pagan ideas and practices with the pure religion of Christ, it is condemned in Scripture as the heinous sin of idolatry! God has always detested taking those things dedicated to idols and using them to worship Him. As a matter of fact, this "special time of the year" is probably more a hindrance to the receptiveness of the gospel message than a help. Much of the celebration observed by our contemporary society deludes people into assuming that God is pleased, when in reality, He is offended by false religion, pseudo-worship, and alien philosophies. The ecumenical spirit and a counterfeit "love" under the guise of "peace and goodwill among men," more than likely dulls one's sensitivity to his desperate need to repent of sin and be reconciled to a holy God.
2. "Christmas is Merely the Honoring of Christ's Birth" -- Someone says, "I know Christmas is of pagan origin, but I still think it's not wrong for a church to have a special time for honoring Christ's birth." But since when did Protestants believe that Christians have the right to add to the Bible? Is the church a legislative body? Are we to follow the Bible in our faith and practice, or the thinking of fallible men? If we have the right to add a special holy day to the Christian economy, then we can add 10,000 other things. Then we will be no better than the false cults and the Roman Catholics who follow heathen traditions! [Besides, celebrating Christ's birth is a form of worship. But since Christmas is a lie, those who celebrate it are not worshiping in "spirit and truth" (John 4:24).]
3. "All I'm Doing is Putting Christ Back into Christmas" -- The modern conservative cry to put Christ back into Christmas is absurd. As detailed earlier in this report, Jesus Christ was never in Christmas. It's a lie to say He was. He has no part in a lie. When anyone takes the truth and mixes it with a lie, they no longer have the truth. They have changed the truth into a lie. Neither is it possible to take a lie and mix it with enough truth to change the lie into the truth. You still come out with a lie. One may say, "Well, I know it's not the truth, but I'll put Christ back in Christmas and glorify God in it then." No, you won't. Christ never was in Christmas. You cannot change a lie into the truth. It should in reality be called Baal-mass, Nimrod-mass, Tammuz-mass, Mithras-mass, or Mary-mass. Christ-mass is a lie. Why use a lie as a good time for a fundamental truth (the incarnation) of the Christian faith?
4. "I'm Using Christmas to Witness for Christ, Just Like the Apostle Paul Did" -- Some say that all they are doing is taking the "truth" from Christmas (i.e., the incarnation of Christ) and "cultivating" it as the Apostle Paul did (Acts 17/Mars Hill), taking the opportunity of the season to witness to a lost world. This would be fine if these Christians were actually doing only as Paul did. Paul, in addressing the Greek philosophers on Mars Hill, proclaimed to them that their "unknown god" to whom they had erected an altar, was none other than "the God who made the world and all the things therein." Paul was not intimidated by the pagan surroundings and symbolisms, nor did he berate the Greeks for their error, but merely showed them the truth of the gospel of Christ.
But do Christians really use the "opportunity presented by the season" in the same way as Paul used the opportunity of the pagan altar? Do Christians personally stand in front of their hometown public displays of Xmas (Nativity scenes, etc.) and preach the gospel? To paraphrase Paul, do they say: "Men of Indianapolis, I see that in every way you are very religious; what you worship as something unknown, I am going to proclaim to you"? Do they come out of the public schools, where they have just attended their children's Xmas programs, and preach to the attendees about the true God who has been grossly misrepresented in the program they have just witnessed?
Hardly. Even to most of those who understand the true origin of Xmas, this "unique time of year" means inviting unbelievers into their homes to gather around the Xmas tree, to enjoy the beauty of the wreaths, absorb the heat from the Yule log, etc., reasoning that they are only using the pagan forms and the pagan festival season as an opportunity to witness. If Paul meant this in Acts 17, he would have met the people in the Athenian temple or in his or their homes, gathering around their idols that he had Christianized and was now using as a part of his worship. Most of the people who decorate their homes and churches with Xmas trees, holly wreaths, Nativity scenes, etc., all supposedly to be used as "opportunities" via "Xmas coffees," neighborhood "grab bag" gift exchanges, Xmas concerts, etc., are thoroughly convinced that they're doing God a service. And since they are not involved in the crass secular "commercialization" that the world revels in, but have instead "put Christ back in Xmas" (so to speak), they reason that all is Biblical and pleasing to God.
5. "It Doesn't Mean Anything to Me" -- Many Christians who routinely make a habit of picking-and-choosing which Biblical commands they will or will not obey, have likewise carried this practice over into a justification for celebrating Christmas. They claim, "but the Christmas tree, mistletoe, Santa Claus, etc., don't mean anything pagan to me, so I'll exercise my Christian liberty and partake in all of it." Obviously, if one were to take such a cavalier approach to the physical world (i.e., "I can drink rat poison because I choose not to regard it as poison"), it would likely lead to a quick physical death. Why, then, do Christians think they can avoid spiritual harm by ignoring God's spiritual warnings?
6. "The 'Connection' Has Been Broken" -- There are those who clearly recognize the pagan nature of the various Christmas worship forms and practices. Nevertheless, many of these Christians claim that because of the long passage of time from their pagan inception to the present (6,000 years?), the "connection" to paganism has been sufficiently diminished to allow the adoption of these forms and practices into our Christian worship and celebration. While it may be true that most symbols have lost their original demonic meaning and significance in a modern society, it is strangely bizarre and ironic that Christendom seeks to commemorate Christ's birth with the faded symbols of Satan. And even though some of God's people may be naive and ignorant about the source of these things, surely God is not. Can such things please Him? And think about this -- if it were possible to "disconnect" current practices from their pagan/occultic roots, why does Scripture not provide us any guidelines as to:
(a) how much time is necessary for the "neutralization"/disassociation process to occur; and
(b) which of the hundreds of ancient pagan rites would then be acceptable for adaptation into Christian worship (since some are obviously much more pagan/occultic than others)?
7. "There Are Hundreds of Other Items of Daily Life that Have a Pagan Origin" -- It is said, "Such things as the wedding ring, certain clothing customs, the modern division of time into hours and minutes, the names of the days of the week, etc., all have pagan connections in their origins, so isn't it a contradiction on your part to say that their meanings have sufficiently changed while Christmas's meanings have not?" But we are not saying that their meanings have changed. The question is one of using things of pagan origin in our worship of Christ. So we would ask the question back, "Which of these pagan items do we focus on to celebrate the birth of Christ? Or which of these is 'Christianized' and brought into our weekly worship of, or our daily devotion to Christ, as you do with the pagan forms and traditions of Xmas?" The origin and meaning of a custom, tradition, or form does not take on significance unless it is somehow specifically incorporated into, or lined up with, our worship. As we have already detailed in the section on Christian liberty (Section IV.B.), these rings, clothing customs, etc. would be merely the byproducts of paganism, not paganism itself, and they have developed no religious connotations or associations of their own, as have the Xmas customs and traditions.
8. "Baptism (and Circumcision) Have Pagan Origins and God Still Gave Their Use in Scripture, So What's Wrong With Using the Pagan Forms of Christmas?" -- This argument is frequently made by pastors who say that to be consistent, those who would have us forbid the forms, symbols, and traditions of Christmas should also be calling for us to abandon believer's baptism; i.e., shouldn't the would-be banners of Christmas be saying, "Since the ancient mystery religions practiced forms of baptism, therefore baptism is a pagan custom and should be outlawed for the believer in Christ"? This is a strange argument for anyone to make, particularly a theologian (and, in our opinion, reveals a low view of Scriptural admonitions). If baptism were absent from the Bible, as using pagan forms and traditions to celebrate or commemorate the birth of Christ are totally absent, there would then be no Biblical justification for baptism. But God has not commanded us to celebrate or commemorate Christ's birth in any way. He has commanded us to baptize (Matt. 28:19).
E. Abstain From the Observance of Christmas -- What, then, ought to be the Christian's response to this and other pagan and Roman inventions? It cannot be denied that they are pagan, pure and simple, from beginning to end. God gives us specific instructions in His Holy Word: Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen ... (Jer. 10:2). These words are perfectly clear. What rational options do we have as Bible believing Christians?
The very popularity of Christmas should cause the Christian to question it. Anyone and everyone can celebrate Christmas without question -- outright pagans, nominal Christians, and even Buddhists and Hindus. If, in reality, December 25th were a date set by God to remember the birth of Jesus, there is no doubt that the world would have nothing to do with it. After all, God has commanded one day in seven -- the Lord's Day -- to worship Him. Does the world observe it? Of course not. As expected, the world loves Christmas, but hates the Lord Jesus Christ (John 15:18, 23-25). It shuns anything pertaining to true religion. Shouldn't the Christian be just a little suspicious of a celebration in which the whole sinful world can join without qualms?
One way to test the Scripturalness of our practices is to reflect on what we would expect missionaries to teach new converts in a foreign culture. We assume that they would use the Bible as their guidebook. If they could start new local churches without importing American culture encumbered with Roman Catholicism, liberal Protestantism, and crass commercialism, wouldn't it be wonderful? Missionaries who have urged new converts to forsake all pagan superstitious relics have later been questioned about the apparent inconsistency of their own American Christmas customs. Nationals perceived them as idolatrous even though the missionaries were oblivious to that possibility!
When Christmas is exposed for what it really is, this angers people. It angers Evangelical Protestant people! And there is reason why it does so. When the pagan celebration of Christmas is rooted up, and rejected, then what has become a Protestant tradition is, in effect, being rejected! And that is why people become angry. It began as a Roman Catholic holy day, and then it became a Protestant holy day. And if anyone dares show it up for what it really is, they face the wrath of the Protestant religious machine. And these days, that can be very ugly.
Christmas is a thoroughly pagan holiday -- in its origin, in its trappings, and in all its traditions. Perhaps we should contemplate the words of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, delivered in a Lord's Day sermon on December 24, 1871:
"We have no superstitious regard for times and seasons. Certainly we do not believe in the present ecclesiastical arrangement called Christmas: first, because we do not believe in the mass at all, but abhor it, whether it be said or sung in Latin or in English; and secondly, because we find no Scriptural warrant whatever for observing any day as the birthday of the Saviour; and consequently, its observance is a superstition, because [it's] not of divine authority. Superstition has fixed most positively the day of our Saviour's birth, although there is no possibility of discovering when it occurred. ...
"It was not till the middle of the third century that any part of the church celebrated the nativity of our Lord; and it was not till very long after the Western church had set the example, that the Eastern adopted it. Because the day is not known, therefore superstition has fixed it; ... Where is the method in the madness of the superstitious? Probably the fact is that the holy days were arranged to fit in with the heathen festivals. ... We venture to assert that if there be any day in the year of which we may be pretty sure that it was not the day on which the Saviour was born, it is the twenty-fifth of December. ... regarding not the day, let us, nevertheless, give God thanks for the gift of His dear Son."
And from Dr. H.A. Ironside's Lectures on the Book of Revelation (1920: p. 301):
"It is a lamentable fact that Babylon's principles and practices are rapidly but surely pervading the churches that escaped from Rome at the time of the Reformation. We may see evidences of it in the wide use of high-sounding ecclesiastical titles, once unknown in the reformed churches, in the revival of holy days and church feasts such as Lent, Good Friday, Easter, and Christ's Mass, or, as it is generally written, Christmas. ... some of these festivals ... when they are turned into church festivals, they certainly come under the condemnation of Galatians 4:9-11, where the Holy Spirit warns against the observance of days and months and times and seasons. All of them, and many more that might be added, are Babylonish in their origin, and were at one time linked with the Ashtoreth and Tammuz mystery-worship. It is through Rome that they have come down to us; and we do well to remember that Babylon is a mother, with daughters who are likely to partake of their mother's characteristics ..."
And, finally, from Alexander Hislop's 1916 classic, The Two Babylons: Or the Papal Worship:
"Upright men strove to stem the tide, but in spite of all their efforts, the apostasy went on, till the Church, with the exception of a small remnant, was submerged under Pagan superstition. That Christmas is a Pagan festival is beyond all doubt. The time of the year and the ceremonies with which it is still celebrated, prove its origin."
We can summarize by saying that nowhere in Scripture are we commanded to commemorate the birth of our Lord, and God the Father evidently deemed it unwise to make the date known. Hence, it will always remain unknown and is not to be ceremoniously remembered and celebrated. (In fact, as pointed out in the Ironside quote above, God has warned us about getting entangled with any special days [Gal. 4:10]). Notice though, that we are commanded to remember Him in His death (but no special day was specified for this either):
"Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; this DO in remembrance of Me" (Luke 22:18,19; 1 Cor. 11:23-26).
To commemorate His death is Scriptural. Any day of the year will do. To commemorate His birth is non-Scriptural, even extra-Scriptural (Deut. 4:2; 12:32; Prov. 30:6; Rev. 22:19), whether one chooses December 25th or any other day.
If God had desired us to remember the day of Christ's birth, He could have left us the precise date. But if He had, He would have vindicated every astrologer in the past 2,000 years. In occult circles, the anniversary of a person's birth is the most important metaphysical day of the year. The Bible recognizes no such significance. It is intriguing that there are only two birthday celebrations recorded in the entire Bible and they were both those of ungodly kings -- and both resulted in an execution (Gen. 40:16-22 and Matt. 14:6-10/Mark 6:21-27)!
The Apostle Paul says: "But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross [not the manger] of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world" (Gal. 6:14). By itself, we find no salvation in the birth of the Lord Jesus, for salvation was only made possible through His death (i.e., His shed blood) and resurrection. Our focus should be on the cross and our ascended Savior, not in a cradle.
Those who love Jesus should certainly rejoice that He was born and lived amongst us as a man. But if we truly want to glorify Him and bear testimony of who He is, we must stop marrying that blessed gift with the debauchery of paganism. If we want to honor His birth, let it be done as He would have done it: year-round unselfishly serving our fellow man as an unending act of love for our God. Let us put away all of the mixture of pagan customs and take up His mantle and His pure worship, and show the confused world that there is a difference.
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