“For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (Romans 8:3–4, NIV)
THE INCARNATION refers to God’s act of revealing Himself to mankind for their salvation by becoming human and yet without in any way ceasing to be God. At Christmas, it is appropriate for us to keep this in mind, as we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The doctrine of the incarnation was challenged in the early church. The first to do so was the Gnostics in the 2nd century. Through their Greek philosophy, they denied that Jesus Christ was truly human. There were other challenges as well in the 3rd and 4th centuries. It took the Councils of Nicaea (A.D. 325) and Chalcedon (A.D. 451) to set matters right. It was only by the grace of God that the orthodox teaching of the incarnation continued to us today. An incorrect understanding of Jesus’ nature would have dire consequences for our salvation (John 8:24).
Why was it necessary for the Christ to be born into this world? The reason: it is only a fully human and fully divine person who can be the effective mediator between God and humanity. In the incarnation, Jesus became a perfect human being. He perfectly fulfilled the requirements of the law for us, as we were too weak to do it on our own. Now we can no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.
With this reminder of the necessity of the incarnation, we can truly express our joy and gratitude for God’s gracious gift of Christmas. Without the birth of Jesus Christ, we would still be waiting for the second Adam (1 Cor. 15:22, 45–49) and His Life-giving Spirit.
A blessed Christmas to all.
Deacon Mervin Lin