It is the end of Advent. In speaking against it so late, my intention isn’t to be mean-spirited or spoil anyone’s joy, but to tell the truth, for our freedom from traditions like this was hard-won.
Yesterday, I remembered the following passage. It speaks about placing ourselves in bondage to things that should never be mixed with the Gospel. Advent is one of those things. It detracts from the simplicity of the Gospel, and it should not be celebrated by Christians who truly desire to worship the Lord only in the ways He has commanded. His ways do not include a wreath and lighting candles, and speaking certain passages from God’s Word over them in a yearly ritual.
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.
This passage may not settle the issue for you, and I realize that Paul was addressing those who were in danger of being severed from grace – from Christ – by coming under bondage to the law, especially in believing that circumcision is necessary for salvation. However, I believe this passage is important in relation to worship. Candles and wreaths, Advent, the Christmas season itself, are “weak and beggarly elements.” Aren’t we to grow up into maturity in Christ? Certainly we enter the Kingdom as little children enter, but we can’t remain children – we’ve got to grow up.
Because God delivered me from these things, going back to them would be disloyal of me, and it grieves me to see others taking part in them. May the Lord renew our simplicity of devotion to Christ – He Who was born, lived, kept the law in our place, exposed the traditions of men, suffered death for us, and rose again for our justification. Paul’s concern for the Christians at Corinth can teach us so much about all of this:
2 Corinthians 10
3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 4 For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.
The Lord Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for making the Word of God of none effect by their tradition. The issue is therefore serious, and I ask that you consider it, going beyond what you like to what God likes.
Then came together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, which came from Jerusalem.2 And when they saw some of his disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen, hands, they found fault. 3 For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. 4 And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables. 5 Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands? 6 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. 7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. 8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.
9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. 10 For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: 11 But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. 12 And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; 13 making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.