Christmas and the celebration of Christ’s birth are two things that must always be kept separate in our thinking!
However, this has become impossible for many Christians in this age because of the impression created by the erroneous but long-established traditions of men that Christmas IS all about Christ’s birth. It is the common misapprehension among God’s people today that Christmas is about Christ’s birth and that the world has hijacked this sacred festival for its own evil ends. Nothing could be further from the truth. For many modern Christians it is almost sacrilegious to suggest that Christmas has nothing to do with the birth of Christ. Sadly, that only reflects the reality that today the minds of God’s people at large are not under the strict discipline of Scripture as they ought to be.
The festivities of Christmas as it is known today are a relatively modern invention and, Biblically speaking, have nothing whatever to do with the birth of Christ. Rather, the celebration of December 25th as a feast day can be traced back to the paganism of Babylon (Jeremiah 52:31), to elements of Egyptian worship, and to the idolatrous worship of Saturn in Roman times. “Far and wide in the realms of paganism was this birth day observed”, Rev. A. Hislop, The two Babylons. The winter solstice celebrations were ‘christianized’ by the already ‘paganized’ Church of Rome around the 4th century and adopted into the church calendar as a supposed celebration of the birth of Christ. More and more the modern Christmas can be seen to be returning to its pagan roots as immorality, drunkenness and sensual revelry of every kind is exhibited. Surely, any Christian whose thinking is disciplined by the Bible must stop and ask themselves: “What has any of this to do with the birth of the Son of God as that event is recorded and revealed in Scripture?” The only Biblical answer is an emphatic: “Nothing!” Whatever Church/religious/family traditions may be invoked in support of Christmas as a celebration of Christ’s birth, the Bible gives no warrant whatever to the celebration of Christmas in such a way.
1. A biblical celebration of Christ’s birth cannot be date sensitive.
There is nothing wrong with remembering the birth of Christ on the 25th of December so long as it is clearly understood that there is no biblical warrant for limiting our consideration of His birth to that specific day. The simple fact that He was born is to be part of the Christian’s thinking all of the time, every day of the year.
The Scripture deliberately withholds specific date information on Christ’s birth and on many other features of His earthly ministry with the obvious intention of preventing such date-sensitive celebrations! The Bible warrants a formal remembrance of His death in the New Testament sacrament of the Lord’s supper; and it warrants a formal worship occasion on the Christian Sabbath, the Lord’s day. Beyond this there is no definite Scriptural injunction for any ‘celebration’ of a particular aspect of Christ’s life, or special significance attached to one particular day/date.
The information that is given us in Scripture about the birth of Christ leads to the conclusion that He was most certainly NOT born at Christmas time. The depths of winter in Israel was no time for Shepherds to be lying out in the fields nor was it a time suitable for the national census which took Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem! [You may like to read this article, The birth of Christ - When and where? for further consideration of this point.]
2. Since Jesus Christ is God manifest in flesh (I Tim 3:16), any consideration of His birth will be an act of worship.
The full deity of Christ is insisted upon by the Scriptures: “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God” (Philippians 2:6 AV). This is a fact that ought to be uppermost in the mind of the Christian as they consider Christ’s birth. This changes everything! The practical implications of the fact that Jesus Christ, even as an infant in Bethlehem, is GOD, are often overlooked by believers as they happily consider pictures of God in their Christmas cards; images of God in their nativity scenes; and encourage their children to play as God etc in ‘Christmas pageants’ of one kind or other. For all practical purposes, the second commandment which forbids the use of images of God in worship, is entirely forgotten.
God is only ever to be considered with reverence and godly fear. This is acceptable worship (Heb 12:25). It is impossible to consider properly any aspect of the character, person and work of God without the attitude of worship. Any remembrance of the birth of Christ ought therefore to be an act of worship, and is to be just one part of the pattern of worship activity by the Christian. Can the common activities of Christmas be regarded in any sense as the true, spiritual and Spirit-led, worship of God? I think not!
3. All public and private acts of worship are strictly regulated by Scripture.
Worship is an activity which God dictates and defines. The Saviour Himself said, “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23-24 AV) Acceptable worship is an act of obedience to the teaching of Scripture.
There is NO Scriptural warrant for linking any of the festivities of Christmas to a worshipful remembrance of Christ as the incarnate God. There is not shred of Biblical support for trees, lights, decorations, presents, a feast, etc, etc being attached to a consideration of the birth of the Son of God. Biblically, Jesus is definitely NOT the reason for the season! To insist that these things are a legitimate expression of worship of the incarnate God, then this is to add to Scripture and to incorporate our own notions/traditions into the worship of God. This is to do no more or less than Israel did at Sinai in attempting to worship Jehovah by means of the golden calf from Egypt.
- No Christian can engage in the festivities of Christmas as a means of celebrating Christ’s birth and claim Biblical support for doing so. Some other justification than Scripture must be used to argue for linking Christ’s birth to Christmas. It is at this point that tradition is usually invoked! When traditions trump Scripture we have become papists! A Christian may wish to justify putting up Christmas decorations, lights,etc on the grounds that they look nice, or because it is the accepted thing to do – but they cannot Scripturally justify doing so in celebration of Christ’s birth.
- Any involvement by the Christian in the festivities of Christmas must be regulated by the clear commands of Scripture which define the degree to which we are to be separated from the ways of the world. The Bible lays down clear guidelines that define how far we may be be involved/integrated in the ordinary secular activities of the world before it becomes sinful to do so. The doctrines of personal separation from the philosophies/practices of the world come into focus at this point. It is that aspect of Bible truth that regulates our involvement with the modern Christmas rather than any Biblical instruction about Christ’s birth. The simple reality is that since it is not Biblical, Christmas is secular. It is a celebration that is of the world rather than being of God. In every instance of secular activity, the individual Christian must decide the degree of involvement that is appropriate to their fellowship with God and to their Christian testimony. Many things of this world can be engaged in without restriction but for testimony’s sake- for Christ’s sake – in many instances we must curtail our involvement in them.
I firmly believe that as the world around us descends into apostasy, the command of 2Cor 6:17 becomes more applicable to Christmas celebrations! “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,” (2 Cor 6:17 AV) The ‘christ’ of Christmas is decidedly NOT the Christ of the Bible. It is a false ‘christ’ that the world is prepared to celebrate! It is a false ‘christ’ that false churches of one kind or other present at the Christmas season. The ‘christ’ of Christmas is fawned over by many churches and individuals who reject the gospel and the teaching of Scripture out of hand! And yet this secular celebration has become a means of joining together those who celebrate a false christ and those who profess to trust the Christ of the Bible, in a common celebration! It will not be surprising to see Christmas become the vehicle used in the future to introduce the antichrist, the man of sin, whose character – being firmly Babylonish – shares a great deal in common with the pagan roots of Christmas, and who will usurp the place rightly belonging to God’s Messiah. It is when Antichrist appears that all the pagan mother-child cults of history – including the Madonna and child cult of the Roman Catholic Church – will reach their fulfillment! What will God’s people’s view of Christmas be then, I wonder!