The Three Deadly Enemies Conquered By Christmas1
Lutherans classically talk about our three deadly enemies as the devil, the world and the flesh.
Every Christian is familiar with the devil, the Evil One, who is pure evil. He is seamless harm and death to all. He wants to own all, rule all and enslave all people to our misery and his demonic delight. Don't dance with the devil, O Christian! Rather pray the Lord's own word: "Be gone, Satan!" And he will flee!
But we may be less familiar with the world. By world Lutheran theology means the prevailing culture. The things is does, decrees, values and imposes on all people. To break with culture is to incur its wrath. But every Christian must.
At one time western culture was informed by the Christian religion. Most of its members were at least nominally Christian. But that prevailing cultural condition which came into being in the 4th century came to a screeching halt in living memory. In the 1960's, and the screech grows louder and louder.
Culture no longer affirms the things that it did for 1700 years: God, faith, Christ, salvation from sin, the sanctity of life, male, female, marriage, family, distinctions, work, worship, prayer, mercy. All of these things are being defenestrated with a vengeance.
For Christians it is a safe bet that whatever the culture is buzzing about is wrong. As often as you bet against culture, you are likely aligning yourself with Christ.
Then there is the flesh. Flesh is St. Paul's word for sinful nature. For the heart that is infected through and through by sin so that nothing sound remains within us. So that our affections and intellects and urges and desires are perverted, crooked, corrupt and cause nothing but harm.
And we are hell-bent on this road until, like the demoniac in St. Mark's gospel (Mark 5:1-19) Jesus intervenes, cleanses us of our devils, breaks sin's power and clothes us in his own righteousness by baptism, so that we sit at his feet fully clothed and in our right minds.
Now to put this all together the devil is the source of all sin. He is the "father of lies" and "a murderer from the beginning". The culture is his dupe, and the flesh, being corrupted by sin, becomes a most willing participant in all evil. And there is no salvation for us. None except one the cross of Jesus whose blood purges us of all sin, death and evil. His sacrificial death is our redemption and salvation.
The Holy Spirit, whom Jesus handed over to the world from the cross with his dying breath, changes us. Cleanses us. Purges us. And give us joy in the midst of sorrow and unending life in the midst of death.
He does it every Sunday at the high and holy altar of God where the fruits of salvation are distributed to all who confess their sins and believe the absolution. Moreover he does it hour by hour, minute by minute. For even when Christians leave the altar they are attached to it by a golden thread. A life line that feeds us "intravenously" with the remission of sins, life, salvation, spiritual power, endurance and consolation each moment, and brings us back again each Lord's Day.
Life is good, O Christian. Now in closing hear the words of the Psalm for the Second Sunday after Christmas from Psalm 119:97-104
97 Oh how I love your Instruction; it is my meditation all the day long.
98 Your Commandment makes me wiser than my enemies; for it is always with me.
99 I have more insight than all my teachers; for your Testimonies are my mediation.
100 I have more discernment than the aged; because for I keep your Precepts.
101 I hold back my feet from every evil way; in order to keep your Word.
102 I do not turn aside from your Judgments; for you have taught me.
103 How sweet are your Utterances to my palate; sweeter than honey to my mouth!
104 Through your Precepts I gain understanding; therefore I hate every false way.
All the good things mentioned here: the Instruction, Commandments, Testimonies, Precepts, Word, Judgments and Utterances of God are found in Christ. He is found on the Christian altar.