The Purpose of Advent, Part 1

 

To Destroy the Devil’s Work

 

The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.  (1 John 3:8 | TNIV)

 

As we approach the Advent season, we know that Christmas is just a few weeks away. Many churches celebrate Advent, the four Sundays before Christmas. It’s a way to focus our attention on the real meaning of Christmas, as opposed to the secular idea of Christmas. The importance of the real meaning of Christmas can’t be overstated. The whole teaching of Scripture places Advent at the very center of God’s plan for saving sinful man. Toward Advent, all of human history had moved until it happened. The messages of the prophets and the songs of the psalmists all pointed the coming of Jesus. 

 

Over the next four Sundays, I’d like to talk about the four-fold purpose of Advent:

 

·      To destroy the Devil’s works;

·      To take away our sins;

·      To reveal the Father;

·      To set the stage for the Second Advent.

 

Nobody loved Jesus quite like John did. Of course, the other disciples loved Jesus, too. But John seemed to have deeper understanding of who this Man was. We know Peter loved the Lord, but it’s hard to imagine Peter sitting quietly beside Jesus just listening to Him. Peter was the one who was quick to interrupt, quick to get moving and get things done. But John was quite content to sit and listen. If anybody heard the heartbeat of God in Jesus, it must surely have been the apostle John. 

 

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.  (1 John 1:1 – 4 | TNIV)

 

Those four verses are one long sentence in the Greek, and as you read it, you can sense the excitement with which it was originally written. And you can also sense how close John was to Jesus. All the apostles were close to Jesus, but especially John. John conveys that closeness using an odd phrase about “touching the Word of life.” How can you touch a word? How can you touch life? But this is what John and his friends had done. John was very conscious that in this Man Jesus was the very Word of God and the life of God. He was conscious of the flesh, but very conscious of the deity of Jesus. 

 

John wrote that “the life appeared.” Other versions use the old fashioned word, “manifested.” The Greek word presupposes a prior existence to manifest or to reveal. That’s a mouthful John wrote in one phrase! In this Man from Nazareth, there was the manifestation of One who had existed long before the Man from Nazareth. That existence is hinted at with the opening words of this first letter of John’s: “That which was from the beginning.” They remind us, as they reminded this letter’s first readers, of the opening words of Genesis. This One John is talking about has been around for a very, very long time. From all of eternity, in fact. 

 

The incarnation of the Son of God was not the beginning of the Son of God. It was not an act by which God began to come close to man. It was an act by God showed man how close He really was to them. In fact, God has always been close to His creation, but His creation is so spiritually dull, it can’t sense Him. So in these opening verses of 1 John, John was telling his readers that this Jesus Christ, whom he and his friends all knew so well, had been with the Father in the beginning before creation itself.

 

In his Gospel, John tells us something else about creation. None of it would be here had it not been for this Word of life.

 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  (John 1:1 – 3 | TNIV)

 

Had it not been for the Son of God, none of creation would exist. We wouldn’t exist. All things were made through Him. So when the Son of God came, He was visiting that which He had created.  As to why He paid His creation a visit, John gives us the reason:

 

The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. (1 John 3:8b | TNIV)

 

But just what are the devil’s works on earth? Again, John tells us. Consider:

 

You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44 | TNIV)

 

[21] After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.” [26] Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. [27] As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. So Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.”  (John 13:21, 26, 27 | TNIV)

 

Those verses tell us exactly what the devil’s works are:

 

§  He is a murderer;

§  He is a liar;

§  He is the betrayer.

 

Murderer

 

Satan is first and foremost a murder; a destroyer of life. The highest form of life, is naturally, spiritual life. Satan does his best work when he is able to kill a person spiritually because that results in that person being forever lost to God. But He’s subtle about it. He doesn’t come at us with guns blazing. He blinds us to God’s purposes and His love. He causes us to have hard hearts towards God and the things of God. These are symptoms of the slow acting poison with which Satan kills man. 

 

But, all sickness and disease can be traced back to the presence of sin in the world, which Satan himself put here. So, in the broad sense, all sickness and disease, war and poverty, all the things that slowly kill a man are the devil’s work, too.

 

The word translated “murder” in John 8:44 can be translated as “man-slayer.” And that’s what the devil is. He isn’t your friend. Nothing good comes from him. He will kill you the first chance he gets if you get too close to him. His work in this regard is to spoil your life any way he can until you’re dead on the inside; a zombie husk of what God intended you to be. All ignorance, all despair, all wandering over the trackless deserts of life are do to man’s spiritual life bleeding out of him, thanks to the murdering work of the devil.

 

Liar

 

The devil is also a liar. And he’s good at it! He is able to cause the world to believe is lies. His lies are all designed to blind the sinner to God’s love; to cause irreparable damage to the human heart even as he promises otherwise; to sow discord between people; to make people as miserable as he his! And his lies to the believers are just as bad. 

 

Years ago, somebody compiled a list of the devil’s top ten lies.  Here they are, in no particular order.  How many have you bought into:

 

1.     God doesn’t exist. Over the last few years, atheists have become far more outspoken and seem to have been able to win over more and more converts.

2.     There is no such place as hell. In spite of the fact that the Bible talks a lot more about hell than heaven, still the devil’s lie persists: A loving God would never send a person to hell!

3.     Sin isn’t really that serious. Just be a good person. One of the devil’s most easily believed lie is yours sins aren’t really a big deal. After all, you haven’t killed anybody, right? In fact, the Gospel teaches that, while all sins are not the same, any one of them will keep you our of heaven.

4.     God wants you to be happy. So, just do what makes you feel happy. Well, while God doesn’t anybody unhappy, your happiness isn’t His chief concern! It’s the state of your eternal soul that eats up most of the Lord’s time and concern.

5.     Getting more still will make you happy. Satan would have us perusing some shiny object rather than God. 

6.     This life is all there is. Once you die, that’s it; you no longer exist.

7.     God really doesn’t love you. He may love other people, but not you.

8.     I can’t be saved. I’ve gone too far. Jesus didn’t give up heaven and being in the form of God and travel to the cross of Calvary—all that work and effort—to save other people but not you.

9.     Once you’re saved, regardless of how you, you can ever lose your salvation. The purpose of the gospel is to change us to make us like Jesus.The New Testament is clear that we are to live holy lives, but if we walk according to the flesh, God will reject us and send us to hell (see 1 Pet. 1:13-16; Gal. 1:6-9; Heb. 10:24-26).

10.  You’re saved by saying “the sinner’s prayer.” Nowhere in the Bible does it say anything like that. A lot of people have said “the sinner’s prayer,” and I’m sure some meant it and were saved in a moment. But the Christian life is not the same thing as a conversion experience. Satan’s big lie is that you get saved and that’s the end of it. In fact, the Bible teaches that salvation is life-long pursuit. You were saved when you confessed Christ and repented of your sins – you are saved by living the way God wants you to – you will be saved when the Lord returns.

 

Betrayer

 

Judas betrayed Jesus after the devil entered him. As the ultimate betrayer, the devil did essentially what Judas did: He took the love of God threw it back in God’s face. That’s really what Judas did. Jesus opened up His heart to this man. He called Judas a “friend.” And in a moment of time, Judas took a relationship three years in the making and tossed it in the cosmic trash can.

 

But if you think Judas is the only one who has ever betrayed the love of God, think again. History is littered with the human wreckage of men and women who once supposedly loved and served God, but who, for reasons known only to them, turned their backs on Him.

 

Jesus came to destroy all of the devil’s works. He destroys death by giving sinners the gift of new life. The new life in all believers undos the murderous work of Satan. In Christ, there is no hatred for others, only love. Hatred, avarice, jealousy, selfishness, all those things are destroyed and being destroyed by the light of God’s love in Christ Jesus.

 

Jesus destroys the devil’s lies with the truth of His Word. That means the more of the Bible you know, the fewer lies you will believe. 

 

Jesus came the first time to destroy the works of the devil, the first reason for Advent.

 

 

 

 

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