Because Christ Came
By Dr. Charles Stanley
This time of year, church services typically focus on the amazing narrative of Jesus’ humble birth. Unfortunately, this story can become so familiar that we take for granted the miracle of God taking on human flesh and walking among us. We also have difficulty understanding the profound impact Christ’s advent (or coming) had on humanity’s relationship to the Father. Let’s examine just a few benefits we can enjoy because of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.
1. Complete Assurance of Forgiveness
Under Old Testament law, God prescribed sacrifices and other rituals that would serve as reminders about the seriousness of sin.
- In what way was the system limited, according to Hebrews 10:1-4?
- Why do we no longer have to offer animal sacrifices (Heb. 9:11-12; 24-26)?
2. The Guarantee of Eternal Life
First John 5:13 says, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life” (emphasis added).
- Read 1 John 5:1-13, paying special attention to verses 1-5 and 11-12. What “things” does John mention to help a person know if he or she possesses eternal life?
- Sum up the analogy Jesus used in John 10:27-29 to indicate the secure nature of our relationship with Him.
- Even when believers sin, they don’t forfeit eternal life. Why not (Romans 8:1-2; 33-39)?
3. Personal Access to God’s Presence
The Hebrew temple was divided into sections. Only Jewish men were allowed into the inner court; Gentiles and Jewish women were restricted to the outer courts. Access to the Holy of Holies, where the presence of the Lord dwelled, was even more limited.
- How often did someone enter the Holy of Holies (Heb. 9:6-7)? What rituals had to be observed beforehand?
- What happened when Christ rose from the dead (Matt. 27:50-51)? Explain the symbolic significance of this event.
- Read Hebrews 10:19-22. Who is now the high priest for all believers? Why can we approach the throne of God confidently?
- Reflect on how limited access to the Father would have been under the old covenant, especially for a Gentile or woman. How does this impact your perspective on spending time alone with God?
4. The Indwelling Holy Spirit
Old Testament saints experienced the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit resting on them, often to help in carrying out God’s specific plans. But His presence in their lives was not guaranteed.
- The first two kings of Israel, Saul and David, both had the Spirit of God rest on them. Why did the Spirit depart from Saul (1 Sam. 15:22-23; 16:14)?
- Under the New Covenant, what is the requirement for receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, according to Acts 2:38?
- For believers today, fellowship with God is available all the time. How does 1 Corinthians 6:19 describe the relationship between the Spirit and a follower of Christ?
The Holy Spirit performs many functions in the life of a believer. He reminds us of Christ’s words (John 14:26), is a deposit guaranteeing eternal life (Eph. 1:13-14), intercedes on our behalf (Rom. 8:26), and equips us to speak the gospel boldly (Acts 4:31). One of the Spirit’s most important functions is that He changes our nature and empowers us to live righteously.
- Describe the benefit of being a “new creation” in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17).
5. Freedom from the Law
Because of the advent of Christ, followers of God no longer have to carry out the rituals described in Exodus and Leviticus. For instance, Christians don’t have to avoid certain foods for spiritual reasons or make animal sacrifices to atone for our sins.
- The Galatians—mostly Gentile believers—were under pressure from some of the Jewish Christians to follow the old covenant ritual of circumcision. What was Paul’s reminder to them (Gal. 5:1)?
- List two cautions regarding freedom from the law (Gal. 5:13, 18).
- Meditate on the fact that you don’t have to follow spiritual rules to earn your salvation (Rom. 3:28). How does that make you feel?
This doesn’t mean that believers have permission to live unrestrained lives, but that we are now governed internally. The Holy Spirit changes our fundamental nature so we no longer want to sin—we desire to please God with our lives (Jer. 31:31-33).
Fill your mind with biblical truth and surrender to the Spirit’s leading. He will give you the power to resist sin and accomplish God’s will (Gal. 2:20-21).
- Do you have questions about how to depend on the Holy Spirit for holy living?
Trust the Lord to reveal the answers to you in His timing.
Prayer: The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus radically changed the way in which humanity can relate to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Express your gratitude to the Father, and ask Him to show you how to meditate on His gifts in the midst of this year’s Christmas festivities.
The birth of Jesus is primarily about God's unconditional love for the world. Every year around Christmastime, many believers read the account of Jesus' birth. But perhaps we've forgotten just how important it is. More often than not, we skim over the verses, telling ourselves we already understand them. However, without a deeper, more intimate look at our Savior's birth, we'll miss the truths the Lord wants us to learn and apply to our lives. (Watch An Intimate Look At The Birth Of Jesus.)