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The incarnation is a declaration of confrontation.

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Read 1 John 3:8-11

If you pick up a Bible and start reading in Genesis 1, you’re in for a beautiful read in the first two chapters with the repeating refrain, “it is good.” But, by chapter 3, the enemy steps on the scene, deceives humanity, and God’s good creation is marred forever. From that time forward, humanity is at war. Like any good story, there’s conflict. We’re born with the innate desire to live in the Genesis 1-2 goodness and peace we’re designed for, yet we find ourselves pulled in by the war of Genesis 3 – running contrary to that peace. We sense the war on the inside and all around us. We feel the warring passions and desires within, and we only need to turn on the evening news to recognize there is an Enemy, and he is on the move.

John, a good friend of Jesus, writes in one of his letters, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). That’s probably not a passage you’re going to find on many Christmas cards this season, but it’s one of the central reasons Jesus clothes himself in humanity and comes to earth. The incarnation is a declaration of confrontation! Jesus is the good shepherd and longs to rescue his creation from the liar, slanderer, accuser, stealer, and killer known as the Devil. Since the beginning of time, the Devil has made attempts to destroy humanity, but John claims Jesus comes to destroy the works of the Devil.

Was Jesus effective? Did he accomplish what John claims he came to do? Has the work of the Devil been destroyed or has the plan of God been thwarted? Yes… but it’s not been fully realized yet. The Enemy has been defeated (Colossians 2:13-15), but at times we still find ourselves enslaved. We need to fight to remind ourselves that Jesus ultimately rules and reigns. Even though the Enemy’s defeat is a reality, he still prowls around looking for someone to destroy. That’s the tension of Christmas; it isn’t just about a baby being born, it’s about a war being won. Yet the battles rage on.

As Advent continues, listen again to the song O Come, O Come Emmanuel. Pay attention to the lyrics about our enemy and consider the many ways his schemes increase our cry.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny

From depths of Hell Thy people save

And give them victory o’er the grave

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, O Israel.

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By Ryan Paulson

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