The Spirit of Christmas and the Prophetic
As the end-time Church is growing in wisdom and stature. Her eyes are increasingly opening to things She must change and overcome if She is to continue progressing into the pure purpose of God for Her. Now as never before, the People of God are developing a new sensitivity to hindrances from things of this present age which heretofore were seen of no consequence or threat to their progress.
We are in a new generation. We are a generation forming a bridge between two ages. As a bridge, our focus is being changed from things past to things future. We are a generation raising a new standard, one that is different from our forefathers. Consequently, things in which we could once participate without second thought by way of custom and tradition are on God's list for purging.
The spiritual effects of these participations are beginning to manifest for what they are in the Light of our increasingly purified prophetic vision of the Lord. One of those traditions now high on God's list of purification is our relationship to the world holiday known as "Christmas."
Not an Anti-Holiday Article
Before someone puts this article down saying, "Oh no, here we go again... Another Christmas-bashing sermon by someone who doesn't like Christmas trees...,” let me say this is not an anti-Christmas article in the conventional sense, and certainly not an anti-holiday statement.
The usual anti-Christmas teaching focuses on the historical roots of Christmas, pointing to the pagan origins of things like Christmas trees, Santa Claus, mistletoe, etc. While such things are true, they hold little significance to the ordinary Christian who makes the effort to ignore them and truly celebrate the birth of Jesus. Therefore, that kind of teaching is not what this article is about.
The purpose of this article is to look at the celebration of Christmas through prophetic eyes. It is to illuminate the effects of the Christmas season on the emerging prophetic Church from a spiritual standpoint. It is to bring understanding of the real meaning behind the phrase "the Christmas spirit" or "the holiday spirit."
Two Spirits of Celebration
From a prophetic viewpoint, there is nothing wrong with holidays. In fact, holidays are a necessary part of the life of the People of God. In the Old Testament, God instituted various holidays to be celebrated throughout the calendar year. God built celebration into the nature of His People. He expects us to be a rejoicing people despite whatever afflictions we may be called to endure. So He wants us to have things to celebrate about, and appointing times for such things is a good thing.
But as we mature in Christ, we begin to discern two different types of celebration spirits. We recognize a spirit of celebration according to the spirit of the present age. And we recognize a holy spirit of celebration in the Spirit of God.
These two spirits are marked by certain effects and side effects, but the ultimate difference boils down to one effect: The holy spirit of celebration sharpens our inner focus on the presence of the Lord and on the values He holds dear. It never competes with the Lord's presence for our attention nor with His prophetic course and purpose for our lives.
By contrast, the world spirit of celebration challenges our awareness of the Lord. It threatens our inner balance of mental poise, undermining the Lord's government of our thoughts. It interrupts the flow of His ongoing purposes for us, leading us to lose control of our path in the Lord for the period of time we are under its influence.
Examining the Effects of the Spirit of Christmas on a Prophetic People
The phrase "the Christmas spirit" is so commonly used that its true meaning as an identity is missed. When people use this phrase, they use it to refer to a general frame of mind marked by cheerfulness and humanitarian concern. But it is more than that. The "Christmas spirit" is a definite personality with an assigned agenda. It is the same as when we refer to the "Jezebel spirit" or the "Absalom spirit."
As we go on to examine the effects of the Christmas spirit on the Church and on God's People as a whole, we will quickly recognize that the Christmas spirit is not a holy spirit of celebration, but belongs to the world spirit of celebration whose effects on the prophetic Church are destructive. Follow on with me as we study these effects in detail.
I. Effects of the Christmas Spirit on the Prophetic Course of the Church
The first thing we notice about the Christmas spirit is that it undermines the prophetic course of instruction God has laid into the Church prior to Thanksgiving. No matter what God may be speaking in September, October, or early November, the prophetic impetus suddenly grinds to a halt as the thoughts of all turn to Christmas celebration and its attendant events.
Any efforts to pursue the prophetic course into the Christmas season fall on half-deaf ears because the focus for attention shifts so suddenly and dramatically from the present voice of God to the traditional voice of Christmas. Every event in the church suddenly becomes captured by the need to accommodate some Christmas theme, regardless of its relevance to the present voice of the Lord.
In effect, the month of December is a total washout for the Church's direction and standard-bearing impact on society. It is like driving down a road which is predictably flooded by a nearby stream the same time each year. Every year one must wait for the stream to subside before he may proceed.
Yet it is only the Church who loses here, for the voice of the Lord continues on unimpeded for those with ears to continue listening through December. The voice of the Lord is no respecter of holidays, yet "woe" to the pastor who fails to bring a "Christmas message" on the nearest Sunday before Christmas.
As we grow in our prophetic perception of God and mature into His purpose, we see that this 7% of a year's span is lost downtime to the word of God—lost time which we can no longer afford if we are to keep going forward into His purpose for us.
II. Effects of the Christmas Spirit on Inward Stability in the Lord
Not only is the general course of God interrupted by the Christmas spirit, but it injects sudden confusion into daily life and throws our mental poise into imbalance. Our minds are suddenly taken captive each year by a destabilizing urgency to "do this" or "go here" or "get this done."
The focus of these demands are Christmas season events, whether parties, or church/school programs, or fundraising events, or the demand to buy gifts for friends and family— most of which are without sum or substance concerning the mind of God for our lives.
Soul instability is the net effect of almost all Christmas events. The demands of each event challenge our day to day ability to function according to the stillness of God's voice.
The entire routine of life is thrown into chaos as both Church and family life are overcome by the compulsion to rush to meet deadlines for events that have no foundation except in tradition. The effects of weekend events in turn spill over to cripple the ability of saints to worship the Lord in their Sunday gatherings.
Are such effects consistent with the holy spirit of celebration in the Lord?
III. Effects of the Christmas Spirit on Prophetic Values and Priorities
Ordinarily, the prophetic people of the Lord are wary anytime money becomes an absorbing focus for any reason at all. They know that, as the root of all evil, concerns over money are the easiest trap into which they can fall, and the surest sign that something is amiss somewhere in ministry.
In spite of this, a monumental shift takes place at Christmastime in the focus and priorities of God's People toward concerns over money and things material. The shift is inexplicable. That is, it just happens. No reason appears. Amazingly, it goes largely undetected. Yet what should serve us as the greatest sign of the source of the spirit of Christmas is this sudden unexplained compulsion of the Lord's People to spend and raise money.
When we look closely at why we spend all this extra money at Christmas, we find that, in most cases, it is for things that serve as ends in themselves and which have no lasting value in the plan of God. Money is spent on parties, on events, on paraphernalia for programs and pageants, and on gifts. Yet the props are torn down and tossed in the garbage. The many extra gifts lie in disarray, misuse, and neglect after only days or weeks. The parties are quickly forgotten.
(Note: This is not a blanket condemnation of all gift giving. Gift giving has a spiritual heritage traceable to the Old Testament and belongs to the holy spirit of celebration. In its own time and season under the power of God, gift exchange is a beautiful thing rich with lasting meaning. It is a way of marking powerful watersheds in our relationship with God and each other.)
Fundraising is as central to the holiday as is spending. Again, for no explicable reason according to the prophetic purpose, churches give allowance at Christmas to more blatant efforts to raise money which, at any other time of year, would be looked upon as naked commercialism. Yet the spirit for which Jesus once drove money changers out of the temple flourishes unchallenged at Christmas.
Churches open their doors and sanctuaries to the buying and selling of wares, setting up bazaars and fairs whose featured purpose is simply to raise more money. Those churches with more tender consciences seek to attach spiritual purposes to the buying and selling that will justify it. Yet the unmistakable spirit underneath cannot be suppressed.
Ultimately, it is the spirit of the season itself that serves as its own reason for the monetary concern. Neither the spirit nor the reason is traceable to the prophetic purpose of God for the Church. From a prophetic perspective, what does happen is that the spirit of mammon comes in under the cloak of the spirit of Christmas. Together, they give birth to a benign spirit of materialism, one that is as deadly, but that is masked by our blindness under the dominion of the spirit of Christmas.
Yet the net effect of all this spending and raising of money is there for us to perceive. It serves only to challenge our composure of soul in the knowledge of God. It knocks us off spiritual kilter and absorbs us into the vortex of what is clearly recognized at any other time of year as the whirlpool of materialism.
Taking Off the Blinders
If the effects of the celebration of Christmas so clearly indicate to us that the spirit of Christmas belongs to the spirit of the present age, why are we unable to see them for what they are?
Discernment of spirits requires spiritual insight. Overcoming spirits requires dealing with them on spiritual grounds through spiritual warfare. But sometimes we don't discern spiritual forces properly. And sometimes we apply false solutions even when we do discern them properly.
This is basically what happened at the original celebration of Christmas. The spirit of Christmas was actually in force long before Christmas was ever thought of as a time to celebrate the birth of Christ. Before that time, the spirit was clearly identified with pagan celebration of various gods. At a certain time in church history, a certain church leader accurately discerned the evil spirit behind the pagan celebration.
But the leader provided a solution that did not meet the spirit on proper grounds for defeating it. Instead of warring against the pagan spirit, the leader proposed that the Church "take over" the holiday by making it a time for celebrating the birth of Christ. Thus Christmas was born. The original spirit was given a new name, a Christian name.
But you cannot change a spirit nor overcome it just by changing its name. You cannot overcome a false spirit of celebration just by changing "the reason for the season." To overcome a spirit, you must war against that spirit and supplant it with something born of the Holy Spirit.
As a result, despite the Church's best efforts to put Christ at the center of Christmas celebration throughout the centuries, the true spirit of Christmas has continued to reign. Even though the celebration has been obliterated of the many obvious pagan customs in our most faithful churches, the effects of the spirit remain untouched, reappearing every December to choke and distract the Lord's People. Only now, the spirit is that much harder to discern because it has been renamed with a Christian name and reason for its celebration.
But the time has come for this to change. The Church has labored long enough under this distracting bondage. An uneasiness is stirring in more and more hearts over this problem with Christmas. God is bringing us to a prophetic level where we can see for the first time the true nature of the deceptive bondage we are under. And He wants us to overcome that spirit.
What is God's will then? How do we overcome? Do we simply rename the holiday again? Do we just suddenly stop observing Christmas as many have?
Abandoning Christmas celebration is not the final solution though it is part of it. But as a prophetic people, our calling is higher than that. We are not just avoiders of evil. We are shapers of destiny through the Spirit of God. We are called to challenge the forces of darkness on the planet, and raise a new standard before the world in anticipation of the Lord's return. We are called to set new precedents in spiritual realms that bear testimony to the government of God through us.
With this as our platform, we are called to the following things:
1. Discern the spirit of Christmas for its true source.
2. War against that spirit so as to prevent any more delays, distractions, and diversions in our quest to fulfil God's prophetic purpose for us in this generation. It is for us to recapture the month of December and bring it back under the government of God in our midst.
3. It is for Church leadership to seek the mind of God for a prophetic new holiday, a holiday born of the holy spirit of celebration, one that will augment God's prophetic purpose for the Church in this generation.
Developing a Prayerful Strategy for Overcoming the Christmas Spirit
Making the changes necessary to overcome the Christmas spirit and to supplant it with something born from God's prophetic purpose must be approached with discernment and care. But it can be done, if we have the heart and mind to do so. If we are persuaded of our identity as a prophetic people, and of the importance of what lies before us, then we know that, by God's guidance, there is no obstacle too great to prevent us.
With this in mind, allow me to offer two general recommendations for prayerful action:
A. Let the church examine and eliminate all church-sponsored events and participation in extra-church events that exist only or primarily for the sake of the Christmas season, and which would not be normally undertaken at any other time of year and show no relevance to God's prophetic purpose for our body.
This would particularly affect the following: the "Christmas Faire," the selling of Christmas trees, the ecumenical Christmas service, and the adorning of the building and sanctuary with paraphernalia that promote the Christmas spirit.
The Christmas parade participation should also be eliminated unless it can be promoted as an outreach under the power of prophetic purpose, not the Christmas spirit. (Note: The particular negative spiritual side-effects from the 1991 Christmas Faire bear witness to the Lord's voice concerning its need to be dissolved.)
All of these things must be recognized in the context of spiritual warfare. But the important thing is that these things should be done in a way that does not bring condemnation on those of us who have been forefront promoters or participants of these events in the past. It should be done in a way that actually expresses appreciation for those who gave of themselves sacrificially in the past to promote these events for what many believed to be a good cause.
B. Let the church seek the face of God and obtain a prophetic purpose for celebration to replace the old spirit. Let us find a purpose to celebrate that magnifies the immediate voice of the Lord and augments the course He has laid in for us prior to December.
In turn, let all church sponsored parties, dinners, or other celebrations be geared toward this. In place of meaningless gift giving, let us find this time a new way to be giving gifts to the Lord and to His purposes. In this context, certain things the church now does should be kept: the candlelight communion service, and all efforts toward gathering for missions. What blessings these are!
Again, let these new celebrations be done in such a way that leaves room for those who yet wish to celebrate Christmas on their own, and does not produce condemnation on them for doing so. The important thing is that a new prophetic .celebration offers those whose spirits are illuminated to the evil of the Christmas spirit an opportunity to celebrate the Lord, and to set an example for the rest of the body.
When God does something. He doesn't have to force everyone to suddenly change. He only needs the freedom to plant a new seed in an old stump. The Christmas spirit doesn't need to be “openly attacked." It only needs to be opposed with alternative prophetic example of the truth until it just rots and drops off. The truth is its own attack when acted upon.
To this time, God has made allowance for our ignorance and weakness. But a truer light is now shining, pointing to the Lord's coming. We see we can no longer afford the loss of 7% of our year to distraction, confusion, materialism, and interruption of God's prophetic purpose for us. To continue in Christ, we must push up through this layer of soil, transcend the limitations of our past customs, and forge new heights in the Spirit.
I close by encouraging every leader open to the prophetic purpose to meditatively present these things to the Lord for study, evaluation, and prayerful responsible action.
Submitted with all respect,
written from Merrimack, New Hampshire
First Love Ministry
- a ministry of Anglemar Fellowship
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Page created June 18, 2016