The Other Side of Christmas: December 1

Houston, We Have A Problem

December 1, 2019
by Joe Pantaleo

Ephesians 2:1-5 (ESV)
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 
I love reading history books because they allow you to learn about different civilizations and cultures. Reading about the mighty ancient Aztecs or the formidable Zulu Empire can give you a glimpse into how different people thought, acted, and believed. While it is interesting to learn about the many differences between the ancient Mayans, the German Nazis, and the modern Americans, there is a common thread that binds all of humanity together. Regardless of time, space, and culture our sinfulness binds us. It is no secret that mankind has a sin problem. Watching the news is a sad, yet helpful exercise for us to observe the sinfulness of mankind. Headlines about school shootings and conniving politicians are commonplace. Even in our own lives, we can see our sinfulness manifest in fibbing to a boss, mentally cheating on a spouse, or cursing in rage when we get cut off in traffic.  
 
Many philosophical ideas and world religions try to resolve our sinful condition by either enforcing strict religious obedience, encouraging wild pursuits of pleasure, or promoting solemn quests for knowledge. The problem isn’t that we are broken and in need of fixing. Nor is it a problem of enlightenment or lack thereof. The problem of mankind is that we are spiritually dead and in need of new life.  
 
In Ephesians 2:1, we see that Scripture exposes the reality of our spiritual condition – “you were dead in the trespasses and sins” (ESV). Our sinfulness causes us to live in a state of spiritual death; which ultimately earns us God’s wrath. Ephesians 2:3 affirms this by telling us that without divine intervention, we are “by nature children of wrath”. Fortunately, God doesn’t abandon us. In Ephesians 2:4-5, we see that God is abounding in mercy and pulls us up out of the grave – “by grace you have been saved”. And that “grace” came in the form of God Incarnate. Yet not incarnate as a Glorious Being, but instead as a helpless infant. An infant born as a carpenter's son in the lowly town of Bethlehem, nearly 2000 years ago. An infant who became a man that lived a sinless life, died on a cross, and rose victoriously from the grave so that we could be raised to new spiritual life with Him.  
 
RESPOND 
Consider any unrepentant sin in your life and pray for forgiveness. God is quick to forgive! Then spend some time listening to worship music to praise God for His forgiveness.  

PRAY

God, thank You so much for Your love and mercy. Without You, I am dead in my sin. But with You I am made alive. Help me to live like I’ve been brought to life by being obedient to Your Word. Please bring new life to my friends and my family members who don’t know You. In Jesus' name, amen.
 
About the author:
 Joe Pantaleo 
Joe is the Director of Student Ministry at Stafford Crossing. He has attended Stafford Crossing since 2002, when a friend invited him to come to youth group. Joe is married to Laura and they have two active boys, Alistair and Isaiah.