THE SON OF GOD APPEARED - John Piper
Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. —1 John 3:7–8
When verse 8 says, “The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil,” what are the “works of the devil” that he has in mind? The answer is clear from the context. First, verse 5 is a clear parallel: “You know that He appeared in order to take away sins.” The phrase “he appeared to…” occurs in verse 5 and verse 8. So probably the “works of the devil” that Jesus came to destroy are sins. The first part of verse 8 makes this virtually certain: “The one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning.” The issue in this context is sinning, not sickness or broken cars or messed up schedules. Jesus came into the world to help us stop sinning. Let me put it alongside the truth of 1 John 2:1: “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.” In other words, I am promoting the purpose of Christmas (3:8), the purpose of the incarnation. Then he adds (2:2), “And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.” But now look what this means: It means that Jesus appeared in the world for two reasons. He came that we might not go on sinning; and he came to die so that there would be a propitiation—a substitutionary sacrifice that takes away the wrath of God—for our sins, if we do sin.
Christmas Eve – one of the most anticipated nights of the year. Children, adults and everyone in between have trouble sleeping on this night. “What did I get for Christmas this year???” “Did I find and wrap all of the gifts I hid?” “Did I get enough gifts for everyone?” All important questions keeping us up most of the night.
This feeling of anticipation is also what makes us excited for the gift we received from God. Is it going to be enough? The answer is yes – it is always enough. Am I worthy to receive it? No – we aren’t worthy – but God doesn’t care, He gave us this gift anyway. He not only gave us one gift, but He turned it into 2! How great is it to get 2 gifts when we don’t even deserve one! As Piper says, He came that we might not go on sinning, and also as a substitutionary sacrifice to cover us if we do.
He came to help us stop sinning, to work on the root of the problem. He appeared to destroy the works of the devil, to take away sins. He knew we would need help in this area – for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God – so His first gift was to help us stop sinning. His second gift is what we rely on when we fall short, He is the sacrifice in our place.
So as we lay our heads down and wonder what Christmas day holds, we can know we have already been given 2 of the best gifts ever.