When you hear the term, “twelve days of Christmas,” most likely your mind immediately goes to the song, not the twelve days of celebration that begins on Christmas Day. I don’t really have any spiritual analogies to connect with the song lyrics, and in fact, if my true love gave me all those gifts, I’m not sure what I’d do with them. [The first thing of course would be to release all the birds…]
The actual twelve days are rooted in different historical traditions when people of faith celebrated Christmas. Some start on Christmas Day, and end on January 6th, which is also called “Epiphany,” the day to commemorate the wise men’s arrival to worship the baby, Jesus. Most likely it was much later when the wise men arrived, but just like we know that Jesus was not actually born on December 25th, it’s just a day on the calendar set aside to remember the event.
I like the idea of celebrating twelve days in a row, but I’m switching up the time frame. To that end, I’ve set a goal to write a short post every day between now and December 25th. Each day will focus on a different gift God has given us.
Today’s gift is the knowledge of sin.
Do you remember the first time you did something wrong, and your conscience condemned you, bringing fear, guilt, and shame? I have a very distinct memory of lying to my mother that I’ve never forgotten. In fact, I’m glad I remember it because I don’t like feeling guilty!
My mother had one of those old-fashioned hairdryers – the kind you sit under at the beauty shop. I had stick-straight, baby-fine hair, and of course, I did everything I could to turn my hair into beautiful, wavy curls. I suffered through a lot of home perms, and when those grew out, I would get my mom to roll my hair on those pink sponge rollers and endure a sleepless night, all in the quest for curls. That hairdryer was used a lot in my house, and my mother kept it on the floor of her closet.
I believe I was around eight years old when I was looking for something on a high shelf in my mom’s closet. I decided to use the hairdryer for a step stool, but unfortunately, as I put my weight on it, it cracked the top. I immediately knew I was in trouble for two reasons. First, I wasn’t supposed to be in the closet, as I was “sneaking” to find Christmas presents. And second, I knew the moment my mom saw that crack she’d know what I had done. So, I lied. When she asked me if I knew how it got cracked, I said, “No.”
Now I am quite confident my mom already knew what had happened. But she accepted my answer and left me to my guilt. Funny how moms know what works! The guilt of lying to my mom ate away at me for days. Finally, I seized on the perfect plan. One day when she was behind closed doors (in the bathroom of all places!), I hurriedly confessed because I could not look her in the eyes. To my relief, she immediately forgave me and thanked me for telling her the truth. I could literally feel the weight of guilt roll off my soul.
The knowledge of our sin is one of the best gifts God gave us because it brings us to repentance and back into fellowship with Him.
Romans 3:19-20 – Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.
Everyone knows there are some things that are right, and other things that are wrong. Six thousand years of human-centered culture have confused us as to exactly which things are which, but we all have a sense of guilt when we do wrong. Because of Adam’s sin, we inherited a sinful nature, but we still retain the image of God that tells us that sin exists and convicts us when we do wrong. This very fact is one reason I believe the biblical version of reality is true. It explains where that conviction comes from!
What a gift! What if God left us in our sinful state and never told us we were breaking His laws of holiness and righteousness? We would continue in our sin until we met Him at death, without any hope of redemption. We would all be accountable for our sin – and we would all be destined for eternal death and separation from God.
Instead, God gave us a conscience to convict us and expose our sin, so that we would know our need for Him. We have a choice – we can try to fix ourselves (do more good things than bad things to balance the scales); we can redefine sin and say we don’t believe God’s laws are good and right. Or we can trust the Creator that made us, acknowledge our sin, and ask for God’s forgiveness. He alone is able to forgive us, and grant us His righteousness through faith in Christ, who paid the debt for our sin. He alone can remove our guilt, because all sin is against God.
2 Corinthians 5:20-21 – Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Are you weighed down by your sin? The world can’t offer you the cure. They might offer you therapy, or medicine, or just tell you it’s just the way you’re made, but that will not be the answer for what you know down deep in your soul is wrong. God wrote His laws on our hearts, and the gift of the knowledge of your sin is where you begin a relationship with Him. Don’t leave that one unopened.