Christianity -- Christian Living/Christmas help

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QUESTION: i am a saved person. i am trying to grow in Christ. i have read my bible and am reading it again. i am thirsty for knowledge and am asking Jesus to lead and guide me in my studies and use me as he wills. I have been awakened to the fact that some of our traditions are not what God entended. like Easter is for the fertility goddess and we don't do Easter eggs and Halloween and santa. at Easter i celebrate Jesus death and reserection and not the man made tradition of Easter. i have done elaborate studies in these areas to come to these conclusions. and feel right with it. with all these attacks on Christmas i did a study on Christmas. and have found that it started off as a roman sol invictus celebration and we Christians kinda took it over and put Christs name on it. i can find no where in the bible the date of Christs birth i actually find that he was born in a warmer time of year. this scripture sticks in my head with finding this out Deuteronomy 13:30-32. but to argue with that feeling i find Romans 14. (please look at these to see what i am feeling) i want to celebrate Christmas with the tree and all (no santa) but i found the tree may have nothing to do with Christmas either. i have found i came from Germany as sort of an winter solstice kinda thing. and i also feel maybe we shouldn't even take part in Christmas with the thinking that Christ was never really in Christmas. but then its hard to know whats right. i have an old hymnal that i sing from at my house when i am worshiping the Lord. nobody showed me this but i was singing "Hark the herald angel sings" and found in the third verse it says and i quote "Hail the heav-n-born prince of peace! Hail the SUN of righteousness" this brings up the scripture in Jude verse 3 about evil men creepping in unaware. I am confused and i know the Lord does not confuse and am at a loss of what to do. i know i am saved threw Christ and not works. but because he loves me i want to worship him purely and how he deserves. i do not want to offer strange fire to the Lord. please help my confusion i have talked to all i know to talk to about this and nobody understands how important this is to me. i would like to fast and pray about it.but was never taught how to. like the steps you take in doing that. wait on the Lord for an answer. i still havn't put up a tree but will be doing that today because i am not sure. the lord knows my heart in this matter and i am not fully persuaded either way and need spiritual guidance in this matter. i am not a Christmas hater i am simply a Jesus lover and don't care how i may look or sound silly to the world. i want to do my best to please him even though i know the best i can do is like filthy rags. please help me find peace with this matter because i am confused. thank you for hearing me out and i hope you can answer me soon. also i have two small children and don't want to harm them with there love for Jesus.

ANSWER: Hello, Amanda.

You've raised some good questions. I appreciate your doing so.

You are correct when you say that some of our traditions are not what God intended. Surely, God did not intend for modern-day Easter traditions to involve an Easter Bunny and Easter baskets, or for Santa Claus to be present at Christmas.

Such ideas come from the minds of men, and obviously detract from the true meanings of these special occasions.

I believe that any Christian parent should steer clear of such ideas. Easier said than done, though, since such ideas are so ingrained into our culture. It's almost inevitable that at some point, the child will ask about Santa or the Easter Bunny. Of course, the parent should then take the opportunity to explain that Santa is ultimately a substitute for God, since God is the One Who gives us (or allows us) all of our earthly gifts. And the Easter Bunny, sadly, is a substitute for Christ, since Christ through His death and Resurrection gave gifts to men (Ephesians 4:8).

The Christmas tree is another matter. It, too, is a tradition, but it doesn't seem to be a harmful one. I think that, with anything, if too much attention is given to it, then yes, the Christmas tree would not be a good idea. But if it's just there for a little decoration and so on, I don't see that as being contrary to Scripture. Indeed, the tree may remind people more of Christmas, which hopefully will make them think of the true meaning of Christmas, and not excessive materialism.

Again, the gift-giving on Christmas doesn't seem contrary to Scripture. After all, the wise men gave gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, to the baby Jesus (Matthew 2:11).

The actual date of Christ's birth is unknown, but it is likely to have occurred at some point in the fall, perhaps sometime in October. The December 25th date, as you have said, is generally not accepted as the true date of Christ's birth.

Whether a person celebrates Christmas is his decision; the Bible neither commands us to observe that day, nor are we told not to. Since the birth of Christ was such a wonderful moment for the world, in that the Savior was born, I think that believers should at least be cognizant of that day and focus strongly on what Scripture says about it. Of course, this can be done at any time of the year, and need not be reserved for Christmas. But this, of course, is just my judgement, and certainly is to be regarded as non-authoritative.

Deuteronomy 13 does not have 30 verses, so I checked Deuteronomy 12:30-32. Starting with verse 29, the passage speaks of God's command to Israel. Israel was not to follow after the foreign lands' gods, or engage in the (sinful) practices of other nations. This was a command to Israel which would apply once they entered into the land of Canaan, after passing over the Jordan River. Actually, such a command was always relevant. Remember that in Exodus 32, God is angered by the Israelites' worship of a molten calf. The worship of inanimate objects (idols) was present in many of the heathen nations of that time.

Romans 14 was penned by Paul (under inspiration of the Holy Spirit) at at time when there was a great rift and confusion in the church. Prior to the New Testament era, Gentiles rarely heard the Gospel. Notable exceptions can be found, such as Rahab the harlot, and Ruth the Moabitess, etc., but for the most part, it was only the nation of Israel which heard the Gospel.

You may be familiar with the various food laws which God gave to Israel during the Old Testament. The commands to abstain from certain types of food (Leviticus 11) were not for dietary reasons, but to establish a spiritual picture. Israel, which represented the people of God, were not to have relations with the heathen (the Gentiles). They were not to be unequally yoked. The same command exists in the New Testament era (II Corinthians 6:14-18), but without the order from God to keep certain laws to maintain the picture (abstaining from certain foods, growing only one sort of crop in the field, etc.).

We no longer are commanded to keep these ceremonial laws. All of that was done away with when Christ went to the cross.

That said, Romans 14 discusses a problem that was arising in those early churches. The Gentiles would eat whatever they wanted, but some of those from Israel may have had a problem with this. They were trained under the ceremonial laws which stated that certain foods were to be avoided. They were trained under other ceremonial laws. The Gentiles did not have these laws, and so a rift and confusion could develop.

And that is why good will is exhorted (Romans 14:3). The individuals in question were not to judge others for what they perceived to be wrong actions. Likewise, we should not judge those who decide on "playing" Santa Claus or talk about the Easter Bunny. We can know that these are wrong actions, just as the Gentiles knew that the Israelites who still clung to ceremonial food laws were wrong. And we certainly don't want to follow the secular lead in these areas. However, instead of pointing the finger at others, we could simply pray for them, but mainly pray for ourselves, too, since we're all sinners before a holy and perfect God (Romans 3:23).

So, I'd certainly encourage you to avoid any overly secular observances during the holidays, as you seem to be doing. I also think that you should pray for wisdom, and search the Scriptures. God can open your heart to understanding. The Bible commands us to pray to God (Hebrews 4:16, I Thessalonians 5:17, etc.).

Incidentally, you mentioned fasting, but fasting, as in the abstaining from eating, was a practice of the Old Testament, designed to show sorrow before God. Indeed, references to fasting can even be found in parts of the New Testament.

However, God makes it clear in the Bible that this sort of fasting is not the fasting that He desires. The true fasting is a sharing of the Word of God. In Isaiah 58:3-5 it is indicated that the fast of afflicting one's soul and spreading sackcloth and ashes (showing sorrow, instigated by not eating) is not what God wants.

Verses 6-7: Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?

Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?

And it continues through verse 12.

In conclusion, the fast that God has chosen is the fast of "loosing the bands of wickedness...dealing bread to the hungry," etc. These are all pictures of sending out the Gospel to the world. When an unsaved person hears the Gospel, if God chooses to save that person at that moment, He will do so. As a result, the person's bands of wickedness will be loosed, his heavy burdens will be undone, he will truly be free (in Christ), and his yoke will be broken (the yoke of being under the wrath of God).

The "bread" that we are to deal to the spiritually hungry, of course, is the Bread of Life, Jesus Christ. We do this whenever we share the true Gospel with someone, or even simply quote Scripture.

I hope that this has helped. If you have any further questions, please ask.

May God bless you,
John

Acts 10:33: Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks for answering my question. I guess it all boils down to, do what you feel right with. One thing you said confused me though. I thought Jesus said he didn't do away with the laws but perfected them. God even said in the old testement that that was one of Christ reasons for putting on flesh: to put my commandments in mans hearts. Like you shall not kill is the commandment , but Jesus said if you have a murderouse thought or hate you have killed in your heart. Once we are saved through Christ, we are no longer under the law, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try our best to do what God wants us to do. Jesus said come to him and repent not come to him and go on about your life. To me the bible isn't just a history book. It's a letter from God to us with life lessons and instruction for a healthy holy life.  Anyway thanks for answering my difficult question about Christmas. And feel free to correct me here if I'm wrong in my understandings.

Answer
Hello, Amanda.

I'm sorry for taking so long to respond.

There are two sorts of laws in the Bible. There are the moral laws, which indeed are in effect forever. These are the laws which we are most familiar with: do not steal, do not commit adultery, do not covet, do not take God's name in vain, etc. (The moral laws, of course, encompass much more than the Ten Commandments that God gave to Moses upon Mount Sinai.)

The other set of laws are the ceremonial laws. These are the laws which were put into effect in order to provide spiritual pictures for the land of Israel. For example, Old Testament Israel was to regularly perform burnt offerings, blood sacrifices, heave offerings, and other sorts of rituals. These are spoken of in great detail in the beginning chapters of Leviticus. These were not moral laws, though, for if they were, then God would expect any follower of Christ today to routinely sacrifice animals on an altar.

Such activity would not even be permitted, since only the Old Testament priests were allowed to perform these offerings.

These offerings were done in order to hopefully give the children of Israel a spiritual picture. The spiritual picture was the sacrifice of the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ would be the One Who was sacrificed for the sins of many. The lamb, oxen, turtledove, etc., was simply a substitute for the real thing.

Basically, if a law was not showing something spiritual (as in the keeping of the 7th-Day Sabbath, which was a picture of the fact that a person cannot work for his or her salvation), then it was a moral law. There is no spiritual dimension, as it were, to the command "Thou shalt not steal." It's cut and dry, everyone knows what it means to steal, and everyone deep down knows it's wrong. (People know right and wrong, at least to some degree, because God has written the Law onto our hearts. This is found in Romans 2:15.)

Christ did give more detail into some of the moral laws, as you have indicated. But He did not say that we need to start offering oxen to God, or keep the 7th-Day Sabbath or various holy days (the Day of Atonement, etc.). These were accomplished in Christ (Colossians 2:16).

To your other points, when a person becomes saved, he is no longer under the Law in one sense. The Law can no longer threaten him, for all of his sins were paid for by Christ. In another sense, the saved individual is still under the Law, in the sense that he or she wants very much to keep God's Word. He or she is troubled when sin occurs (Romans 7:22-25).

After salvation, a person won't live perfectly, because he has a body that is still cursed by sin, but he will live more and more to God's glory. This continual change and growth in the believer's life is known as growing in grace (II Peter 3:18). We all should desire and pray for this in our lives, and the lives of those around us.

A person who is truly saved will find a noticeable change in the way they view God, the Bible, other people, their own life and sin, etc. Again, we won't love God perfectly in these bodies, but the change will be undeniable.

I hope this helps. Any further questions, please ask.

May God bless you,
John

Psalm 91:2: I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust.

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John Zalewski

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I can answer questions about Heaven and Hell, becoming a true believer (born again) and how to know if you are truly saved. As a Christian, it is my duty to help spread the Gospel. I can take a look at Bible verses if you like. It is in my best interest to eliminate any and all confusion about the Bible, so please do not hesitate to ask me whatever you like.

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