Jn.4: 19 The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.
21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.
22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.
23 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.
24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
This prophetic teaching comes from the lips of THE Prophet, Jesus. This woman knew all too well the customs and practices of the Jewish people and she questioned the Lord about them. She pointed out the difference in the places where Samaritans worshiped and where Jews worshiped. But this is much more than just a difference between the two places of worship. Jesus foretells of the day when the New Covenant will abolish the Old and be ushered in as the covenant of the Spirit.
This will be no minor adjustment. This will not just mean that men will now worship at the same earthly place. This utterance from our Lord tells us that the New Covenant will be ushered in by the Spirit, and it will live in the Spirit, and men will worship in the Spirit as well. The object of that worship will be the Truth, the Lord Jesus. But no longer will there be a tabernacle and symbolic furniture. No more will there be a brazen altar or laver, or a table of showbread or a candlestick or altar of incense. And no longer will there be an Ark of the Covenant where the presence of God dwelt upon the earth. Once the house is built men take down the scaffolding.
The presence of God will now dwell in each and every believer. No more tabernacle made with hands and no more priesthood made after the law. The New Covenant gives direct access into the throne room of God by the blood of Jesus and the power of the Spirit. This new and eternal covenant is what God had always had in mind, and the Old Covenant is abolished and now stands as a wonderful set of symbols which men of the Spirit will understand point to Christ and the New Covenant. No more animal sacrifice, no more tabernacle, no more furniture, no more priesthood, no more tablets of stone, and no more law. It has been fulfilled by Christ, and that yoke of death has now been loosed from off the neck of every true believer.
Phil.3: 3 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.4 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:
5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;
6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
The Apostle Paul was well versed in the Law of Moses. He was a renowned Pharisee and a doctor of the law. He was a student of the law and he was a teacher of the law. He had dedicated his life to the adherence of the law. And lest anyone think he was some Gentile invader, or even some unlearned Jew taking license of things about which he was ignorant, in these verses he openly rehearses his Hebrew pedigree and his credentials as a teacher of the law.
So there is no question as to the qualifications of the man named Saul who has now embraced his current name as Paul. He knows full well where of he speaks and he steps into a revelation which the Jews have rejected and for which his own life is now sought. In fact, he is writing these words from a Philippian jail. Paul and Silas were thrown into prison because the accusation was that they taught things contrary to the law. The accusers mistakenly accused Paul of teaching Jewish law just because he was a Jew.
But while in prison Paul goes about teaching the truth about the law verses grace. And in verse seven he says that whatever things were counted gain to him, he counted as loss for Christ. That does not sound like a man who held the law in high esteem as some do today. I mean who today would say “I consider the Old Testament law as excrement compared to knowing Christ”? That would be considered blasphemy in some circles and yet that is exactly what Paul was saying.
But Paul is much more specific as he writes to the church at Galatia.
Gal.4: Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all;2 But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.
3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world:
4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
The law was a governor and a tutor or as we would say today a guardian. But that guardianship was not to be forever. When God sent forth His Son the guardianship was to be eradicated. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a message of life while the message of the law was the sentence of death. The Holy Spirit now does the conviction not tablets of stone. We are to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and not use the law like a tenderizer for the main course meat. But what are the implications of being set free from the law? Is it just being free from its bondage, or are there spiritual responsibilities that come along with living in the Spirit and not the law?
The law of Moses was put on notice in a manger in Bethlehem that its days were numbered. But God in His eternal wisdom had already equipped the law with a weakness which was to be its greatest strength. The law was ready to be done away with when the Son fulfilled it and cut a new and eternal covenant with His own blood. And in a wonderful miracle, not only were believers set free from the law, but they would be edified in studying the law because the Spirit now illuminated Christ throughout the law. What we could not see before became obvious and evident now.
Not only did the Apostle Paul make it clear that New Testament believers were no longer under the law, but he made it emphatic that should never be any mixing of the law with the grace found in Jesus Christ. None.
Gal.4: 6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
8 Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods.
9 But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?
10 Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.
Paul identifies some of the bondages that these Galatian believers are carrying over from the law. He does not dismiss them. He confronts them because they are detriments to the spiritual realm. Paul never accepted a melding of law and grace. In fact his life was constantly in danger because he taught men they did not have to obey the law.
But I want to address how the church has succumbed to the observance of holidays or more accurately “holy days”. There are sects of evangelicalism which embrace the Jewish roots to such an extent that they create an amalgam of the Old Testament observances and the New Testament teachings. And they observe the feasts and the holy days laid out under the Old Covenant. I have written about that phenomenon HERE.
But most evangelical churches do not observe such holy days. But they do observe special days which the heathen observe as well. And most if not all these days have pagan roots and are in conflict with the life which should be in the Spirit. Celebrating days like the 4th of July is just spiritual compromise pure and simple, but of course who really cares about spiritual compromise these days. But one holiday which is projected as being a Christian holyday is Christmas and it is probably chief among the pagan holidays. I realize there is little appetite for an honest discussion much less a thirst to sacrifice that which displeases God. The Scriptures have become a written idol on one side and some nebulous guidelines on the other. The love of “Christmas” is stronger than a love for God’s Word. Rationalize it any way you can if it soothes your conscience.
Imagine you were a first century believer. You worshiped Christ and shared His gospel. You knew brothers and sisters who had been murdered for the faith and you lived with the joy of Christ along with a concern over the safety of your family. But even in living in that kind of cauldron you saw sinners come to Christ and manifest a hunger and thirst to abandon their pagan roots and learn the ways of their Master. You met in homes where you praised God and prayed much and broke bread together. It was a time of great danger, great learning, great transformation, great growth, and a spreading of the gospel around the world.
Now imagine that the Lord put you to sleep and woke you up in 2013 in America and He allowed you to retain your memory. Of course at first you were dazzled by all the lights and cars and all the fruits of technology. And December came and you witnessed all the scurrying around and all the buying and all the trees and lights and nativity scenes and pictures of Santa Claus. You inquired as to what was happening and you were told that the community, unbelievers and believers alike, were actually celebrating or at least observing the birth of Jesus on a certain day. You were astounded.
So you asked some who professed Christ why did they observe such a day? Why, you asked? And you asked where and when did this observance begin since none of the early believers even conceived of such a day. And when you remembered how difficult it was for so many early believers to repent of their own pagan observances, and when you remember how the teachings of Paul about such holy days were spoken throughout the church, you wondered how anyone who professed to follow Jesus and the New Covenant could participate in such idolatry. And aside from the very unscriptural concept of holy days, you saw how believer’s children were lavished with all kinds of trinkets and material goods which taught them to embrace the hedonism of the culture.
And then you were invited to attend a Christmas gathering at a local church. As you sat in such luxury you noticed that no one was concerned about any authorities coming to arrest anyone. But you also noticed that the crowd spoke of everything but Jesus. They greeted each other and smiled and spoke of visiting family and large crowds at stores and travel plans and even football. You looked around and saw almost no one praying as they seemed to be waiting for something to begin. The building was decorated with all kinds of plants and flowers and wreaths and colored ribbons and there was even a tree. A tree, you thought? Did not the pagans do the very same thing in their holidays?
So there you sat among the measured hum of human conversation and inside a glamorized building and now you are seriously concerned about what this is all about. You remember brothers and sisters who literally gave their lives for Jesus and paid a great price because they refused to give their allegiance to any earthly government or observe anything that even hinted at paganism. And yet these modern believers seemed very comfortable infusing pagan observances right into the gatherings. And these gatherings seemed much less like a prayer gathering than they do a community fellowship. And you wondered not only where this thing called “Christmas” came from, but how they came up with the name. (You wouldn’t want to know.)
Ok, back to us. There can be no argument. Celebrating any kind of holiday is pagan at its roots and reduces our commitment to Christ by an open rebellion to His Word. Yes, the Bible we carry and use to pound gays over the head and proclaim that we believe it is inerrant are just words on a printed page which can offer some practical advice for morality but which also contain teachings we can so mangle and manipulate that we can openly disobey them and claim we are observing Christ even while disobeying Him. Think about that. Christmas is a holiday which is pagan in its practice and origin and in direct violation to the teachings of Scripture and yet we can observe it and still proclaim we are honoring Jesus. That, my friends, is some spiritual hubris. In other words it is an open spiritual rebellion accompanied by wonderful music, brightly colored regalia, enthusiastic materialism, and an open disregard for Scripture. It is an adaptation of the pagan holiday HERE known as “Yule” or “Winter Solstice” which celebrates the birth of a son, Mithra, to a virgin goddess. It was this pagan holiday after which some Christians modeled “Christmas”. In fact it was centuries after the celebration of the birth of the pagan god Mithra that a pope instated what is called Christmas. He arbitrarily chose December 25th because of its vicinity to the Winter Solstice. HERE
Wow, can there be any deeper idolatry and open rebellion to Christ? Can we actually please God by taking a holiday which celebrates the birth of a counterfeit Christ and attaching Jesus’ name to his birthday? What would God think if we took Halloween and said it was when Jesus was baptized and called it Christween and began to celebrate it in the church with orange and black decorations and songs about baptism and exchanged chocolate doves? Absurd, you say? Exactly. You see, even if you can invent some none existent wiggle room about observing holidays you can never make a case for Christmas.
So the next time you open your Bible comforted by the thought you actually believe it is God’s Word try and pretend you have never read this post or seen those words by Paul. That way you can be fully invested in Christmas without being bothered by all those pesky truths. Merry Christmas!