The Knowledge of God Lay in a Manger: Why Christmas Shocked the Satan


The idea behind this text is that the preciousness and pleasures of Christmas will likely be deeper, stronger, and extra intense if we expertise Christmas as a part of one thing vaster than all creation and countless ages. The knowledge of God that deliberate for Christmas existed earlier than the universe and embraces all that occurs.

The universe is a theater for the show of God’s knowledge. Jesus Christ is the middle and sum of that knowledge. It was executed by the Son of God and for the Son of God. Due to this fact, “all issues had been created by means of him and for him” (Colossians 1:16). God’s goal which guided his plan was “set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all issues in him” (Ephesians 1:9–10).

This Christ-exalting plan for the universe was everlasting — God had it in thoughts ceaselessly. The plan “was in keeping with the everlasting goal that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ephesians 3:11). It was a “thriller that was saved secret for lengthy ages” (Romans 16:25) — “the thriller hidden for ages and generations however now revealed to his saints” (Colossians 1:26). Imbedded within the long-hidden thriller was a promise of everlasting life which God “promised earlier than the ages started” (Titus 1:2).

Unfolding in God’s Theater

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It was a plan that may flip the cosmos right into a theater, with angels and devils seated within the heavenly galleries to observe the plan unfold. The plan was to place God’s knowledge on show with Christ on the heart. The infinite divine knowledge can be seen in Christ’s nice achievement — a bride for the Son of God, snatched from Devil’s maintain, redeemed and beautified by the incarnation, dying, and resurrection of the second particular person of the Trinity.

Eventually “the thriller hidden for ages in God would come to mild, in order that by means of the church the manifold knowledge of God would possibly now be made identified to the rulers and authorities within the heavenly locations” (Ephesians 3:9–10). That is the everlasting knowledge of God “which God decreed earlier than the ages for our glory” (1 Corinthians 2:7).

This everlasting, divine, cosmically displayed knowledge was summed up within the surprise of the God-man, Jesus Christ. “God’s thriller is Christ, in whom are hidden all of the treasures of knowledge and data” (Colossians 2:2–3). Thus, within the incarnation, God “made identified to us the thriller of his will, in keeping with his goal, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time” (Ephesians 1:9–10).

In different phrases, Christmas is a central act in a cosmic “plan” (oikonomian, Ephesians 1:10; 3:9) and cosmic “goal” (prothesin, Ephesians 1:9, 11; 3:11). The plan existed earlier than creation. It was not a response to sin in creation. Creation and redemption had been pursued with sin and redemption in full view as a part of the plan. Grace was not an afterthought to creation-gone-wrong. God gave us grace “in Christ Jesus earlier than the ages started” (2 Timothy 1:9). Christmas, Good Friday, Easter, Second Coming, and Consummation had been the everlasting goal and plan of creation, not a response to its fall.

Christmas as Excellent Plan

Since Christmas is a part of an important, everlasting, cosmic plan, it’s a part of God’s infinite knowledge. We dare not consider God’s planning with out acknowledging that this planning is smart. Infinitely clever. God was not guided in his everlasting planning by something outdoors himself. “For who has identified the thoughts of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” (Romans 11:34). There is no such thing as a counsel outdoors God to assist him plan extra correctly. He plans in keeping with his personal knowledge. And his knowledge is infinite. It’s holy. It’s excellent.

That is what guided him as he deliberate for Christmas. Infinite knowledge guided him as he created, endured, and redeemed the world. This knowledge is an important a part of the radiance of God’s glory. Thus Paul says, “To the one clever God be glory!” (Romans 16:27). Due to this fact, once we say that God created the world for his glory, we imply a minimum of this: he created the world to show his excellent knowledge in all that he does.

When Paul stated that God displayed his knowledge for the “rulers and authorities” to behold (Ephesians 3:10), you will need to notice that these “rulers and authorities” are demonic powers. That’s the way in which he makes use of the phrase “rulers and authorities” (Ephesians 6:12; Colossians 2:15). How does God count on the demonic beings of the universe to reply after they see the manifold knowledge of God in creation, and Christmas, and the saving work of Christ?

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Why Does God Enable Devil?

To reply this query, let’s ask one other: Why does God permit Devil to go on appearing on the planet? We all know that this isn’t as a result of God can’t get rid of him. As quickly as Devil introduced distress into the world, God introduced that his doom was certain: God stated to the serpent that the offspring of the lady “shall bruise your head, and also you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15). And on the finish of historical past, the ultimate elimination of the satan is certain: “The satan who . . . was thrown into the lake of fireside and sulfur . . . and will likely be tormented day and night time ceaselessly and ever” (Revelation 20:10).

The satan and his angels know this. They’ve identified from the start that it’ll come all the way down to an influence showdown, and that God, the Creator, is superior. They can’t win. For instance, Revelation 12:12 says that the satan “is aware of that his time is brief.” There is no such thing as a query he will likely be defeated. It is just a matter of when. Equally, in Matthew 8:29, the demons cry out to Jesus, “Have you ever come right here to torment us earlier than the time?” In different phrases, they know {that a} time for his or her utter defeat is appointed. What they didn’t count on is that it will come this fashion right now.

Right here is the place the knowledge of God reveals itself most clearly. Devil knew that divine energy would in the future undo him. However he had no concept that way over uncooked energy can be on show in his defeat. He didn’t notice that God would ship his elect from Devil’s captivity in a method that put God’s everlasting knowledge on spectacular show.

Salvation With out Brutal Energy

Human beings weren’t simply captive to Devil; they had been underneath the wrath of God (Ephesians 2:3). They had been responsible. They didn’t deserve rescue, they usually had been wholly unable to rescue themselves. Devil couldn’t fathom how God’s rightful honor can be restored after man’s treason. He couldn’t comprehend how God’s simply wrath can be assuaged, or how sinners may very well be counted worthy of being adopted as God’s youngsters, or how God might probably be simply and on the similar time justify the unjust. All Devil foresaw is that God’s energy would overthrow him some day.

However the plan, hidden for ages in God, was vastly extra superb than Devil might see. The thought that God would, himself, within the particular person of his everlasting Son, enter historical past was unfathomable. Christmas was past demonic creativeness. What sort of inscrutable plan was this? What sort of triumph had the knowledge of God designed from all eternity? Why did God himself must grow to be human? Energy didn’t require this. God was, evidently, intent on displaying one thing greater than uncooked energy in defeating Devil and saving people.

Certainly he was. Knowledge! Infinite knowledge can be on show. God’s plan was to avoid wasting his individuals and defeat Devil in a method that may not simply glorify his energy, however would glorify his “much-manifold knowledge” (Ephesians 3:10). Not simply his “knowledge” (sophia). And never simply his “manifold knowledge” (poikilos sophia), however his “much-manifold knowledge” (polupoikilos sophia).

Why Christmas Shocked Devil

On the heart of this show of unfathomable, many-faceted knowledge was the unforeseeable surprise of the second particular person of the Trinity, united as one particular person in two natures, divine and human. “The Phrase grew to become flesh and dwelt amongst us, and we’ve got seen his glory, glory as of the one Son from the Father” (John 1:14).

Then the manifestations of unthinkable knowledge multiplied. Born in a “little” city (Micah 5:2), laid in a feeding trough (Luke 2:7), raised in Nazareth — “can something good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46) — uneducated (John 7:15), misunderstood (Mark 4:13), denied (Matthew 26:34), deserted (Matthew 26:56), betrayed (John 6:71), mocked (Mark 15:20), spit on (Luke 18:32), flogged (Matthew 20:19), topped with thorns (Matthew 27:29), and eventually, crucified (Mark 15:24) — all in obedience to the Father (Philippians 2:8), in keeping with plan (Acts 4:28; Philippians 2:5–8). This was the “secret and hidden knowledge of God, which God decreed earlier than the ages” (1 Corinthians 2:7). Unimaginably, all this weak spot and loss was “the ability of God and the knowledge of God” (1 Corinthians 1:23–24).

Devil didn’t see this coming. He anticipated to be defeated by energy. He didn’t count on to be defeated by divine incarnation, or weak spot, or mercy, or grace, or justice that vindicates God and justifies sinners. This was hidden knowledge (1 Corinthians 2:7), a hidden plan (Ephesians 3:9), a hidden thriller (Colossians 1:26). Christmas will need to have completely shocked him. The place is that this unfathomable act going to guide?

Devil Conquered and Ashamed

The reply is that it led not solely to Devil’s defeat however to his disgrace — his utter disgrace. That is what God supposed for Devil to really feel when he noticed the divine knowledge from his gallery. There can be no mere power-on-power battle with a noble loser. There can be grace, incarnation, weak spot, dying, and justice. This was the knowledge of God hidden for ages. And it will have so many divinely deliberate twists and turns that Devil can be left to personal nothing however disgrace.

We all know that the incarnation of the Son of God was designed to cancel the designs of Devil: “The explanation the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the satan” (1 John 3:8). As Jesus got here to his final hour — the hour of his obvious defeat! — he stated, “Now will the ruler of this world be solid out” (John 12:31). The crucifixion was not the defeat of God’s plan however the destruction of Devil’s. Devil was blindsided. He was made a idiot.

Paul makes the shaming of Devil express.

God forgave all our trespasses, by canceling the file of debt that stood towards us with its authorized calls for. This he put aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open disgrace, by triumphing over them in him. (Colossians 2:13–15)

Devil considered his defeat and our rescue solely when it comes to energy. He didn’t notice that his age-long opposition to God can be the event of God’s spectacular show of all the aspects of God’s superb knowledge, not simply his energy. The fullness of his disgrace rose to its climax as he realized — and nonetheless realizes with every new blood-bought work of grace — that his personal deceptions had been being changed into the glorification of the perfections of his arch-adversary.

Stunning Weapon

Right here is how John Owen (1616–1683), who considered these items as deeply as anybody I do know, associated the knowledge of God in salvation to the shaming of Devil:

This [salvation] was carried out in a method that Devil by no means considered. For, by the obedience and sufferings of the Son of God incarnate, there was full satisfaction made unto the justice of God for the sins of man, a reparation of his glory, and an exaltation of the distinction of his holiness . . . outbalancing all of the diminution of it by the primary apostasy of mankind.

The charms of Devil had been dissolved, all his chains loosed, his darkness that he had introduced on the creation dispelled, his entire plot and design defeated; — whereon he noticed himself, and was uncovered unto all of the holy angels of heaven, in all of the counsels, craft, and energy he had boasted of, to be nothing however . . . a mass of darkness, malice, folly, impotency, and rage.

[This shame was] one of many principal elements of Devil’s everlasting torments. Absolute energy he at all times feared, and what it will produce; for he believes that, and trembles. However towards another method he thought he had secured himself. [It is plain to all] what disgrace, confusion, and self-revenge, the proud apostate was solid into, upon his holy, righteous disappointment of his design.

To search out that which he contrived for the destruction of the glory of God . . . and the everlasting break of mankind, [had resulted] in a extra superb exaltation of the holy properties of the divine nature, and an unspeakable augmentation of blessedness unto mankind itself, is the very best aggravation of his everlasting torments. This was a piece each method changing into the infinite knowledge of God. (The Glory of Christ, 217–218)

Sure. In each method changing into (seemly, becoming, appropriate, correct) of the knowledge of God! And the shaming of Devil continues. We’re in fixed fight, Paul says, “We don’t wrestle towards flesh and blood, however towards the rulers, towards the authorities, towards the cosmic powers over this current darkness, towards the religious forces of evil within the heavenly locations” (Ephesians 6:12). How does Devil’s shaming proceed on this battle?

Selecting Christ, Despising Devils

Paul offers us a clue in 2 Corinthians 11:2–3.

I really feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to 1 husband, to current you as a pure virgin to Christ. However I’m afraid that because the serpent deceived Eve by his crafty, your ideas will likely be led astray from a honest and pure devotion to Christ.

Devil would succeed if, as within the case of Eve, he might make his deceitful guarantees look extra alluring than Christ. “Pure devotion to Christ” — preferring Christ over all of the allurements of Devil — shames Devil repeatedly. That is how the continuing results of Christmas and Good Friday and Easter compound the shaming of Devil past what occurred on the cross.

Day by day Christ’s persons are confronted with decisions like Job’s — not as extreme and painful, however basically the identical. Devil says to God, in impact, as in Job 1:11, “Take away some pleasure, some ease, some consolation, some comfort from Job, and he’ll choose me over you each time.” That is the heavenly contest behind each temptation within the Christian life. Each time Christians choose Christ over Devil’s temptations, Devil is made to look silly, and the value of Christ is magnified.

Massive Christmas, Massive God

That’s the ongoing impact of the knowledge of Christmas. “The explanation the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the satan.” The decisive blow was struck by the incarnation two thousand years in the past. However on daily basis, the impact of that nice blow continues wherever Christians treasure Christ’s particular person greater than Devil’s guarantees. The everlasting plan of God, hidden for ages, continues to be labored out by the Spirit as he causes our affections for Christ to make Devil look not solely evil however undesirable. That is what Devil sees on daily basis, around the globe, because the rulers and authorities are pressured to behold the manifold knowledge of God by means of the church (Ephesians 3:10).

Christ is the middle and sum of this knowledge. The complete plan, conceived from eternity, was to place God’s knowledge on show in historical past with Christ on the heart. Christmas was the decisive inbreaking of this plan into historical past. Nothing has been the identical since.

Due to this fact, allow us to make Christmas a time of reorienting our minds and hearts regarding all of actuality. Christmas shouldn’t be small. It’s the decisive entrance into our world of the best plan within the universe — no, earlier than and above the universe! A plan shaped from all eternity. A plan of the triune God to ship the second particular person of the Godhead into his personal creation. A plan to disgrace the enemies of God. A plan to avoid wasting a treasonous individuals for his identify. A plan to show the infinite knowledge of God.

John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and instructor of and chancellor of Bethlehem School & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He’s writer of greater than 50 books, together with Needing God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist, and most not too long ago Expository Exultation: Christian Preaching as Worship.

A model of this text beforehand appeared on underneath the headline, “The Knowledge of God Lay in a Manger: Why Christmas Shocked the Satan.”

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