To Destroy the Works of the Devil
“The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8).
The word “destroy” doesn’t mean to annihilate, it means to “render powerless.” When Jesus died on the cross, he “pulled the plug” on Satan. In this present age Satan seems to be very powerful, but he cannot do anything without God’s express permission. He is like Samson shorn of his locks, unable to do anything on his own. The day is coming when his utter impotence will be revealed to the universe and those who followed him will discover that they were following a toothless lion.
In 1833 the familiar Christmas carol God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen was first published in Britain. It became widely known in America in the late 1800s and is still popular today. Many people miss the meaning of the first line because they leave out the comma between "merry" and "gentlemen." This is not a song about "merry gentlemen," but rather an exhortation to godly men. It helps to know that the word "merry" originally meant strong or valiant, as in Robin Hood and his "Merry Men," meaning his strong, brave men. The word "rest" meant to make. So the first line really means, "God make you strong and valiant, gentlemen." That explains the second line, "Let nothing you dismay." What is it that makes us strong in the face of the struggles of life and our own repeated failures? "Remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas Day." The whole essence of the gospel is in the opening verse.
God rest ye merry, gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay,
Remember Christ our Savior
Was born on Christmas Day;
To save us all from Satan’s power
When we were gone astray.
O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy;
O tidings of comfort and joy.
I particularly love the line that explains why Christ came: "to save us all from Satan’s power when we were gone astray." We have all repeatedly and foolishly gone astray, and we have suffered because of it. Jesus came to save us from Satan's power that continually pulls us in the wrong direction.
Be encouraged. Christmas is almost here. Things are going to change.
Deliver us from evil, O Lord, so that our hearts may truly be merry today. Amen.