This is a question that I receive almost every year, and that was asked me recently again.
First, let me tell you that the Bible nowhere tells us that we should celebrate, or remember the fact that God has remembered His promise, He already gave to Adam. But that in itself doesn’t make it wrong to remember this great and joyful event (In fact we don’t even know when the Savior was born).
Those who follow me may have observed that I didn’t write about the birth of the Christ in December, but that I did write about this great fact in the beginning of May. Some did for sure notice that, for both times a great number of people stopped following the devotionals because of it. First for not giving attention to Christmas, and later for giving attention to the birth of the Christ in the wrong time of the year. (As if there are certain times of the year that one may only read certain parts of the Bible).
Well the question “Is Celebrating Christmas a Sin? is a very open question.
And the answer depends largely on what Christmas means to you, and how you celebrate it.
Just like celebrating the Lord’s supper can be a sacred and holy moment for one, it is for others a moment they load an extra sin on themselves when they participate in it, in an improperly way.
Just like the reason why this question is asked.
Some are just asking it to stir up endless hot discussions, while others ask it because they have heard some things, and are seriously looking to follow God’s directions in their lives.
In the same way some people say that you cannot celebrate christmas without a tree, candles, presents, a luxurious meal, and all dressed up beautifully. Often, these same people, how much fun they may have on those days, have no thoughts of what happened years ago in Bethlehem.
While others don’t need all that earthly, materialistic, stuff, and can remember God’s gift any time of the year (also in December), and because of that choose not to celebrate Christmas as a matter of conscience, and especially not in the way the world celebrates it.
Why Would One Believe Celebrating Christmas Is Wrong?
It is a man-made “holy day”
When this reason is mentioned, often is pointed to the man made “holy day” that King Jeroboam instituted, where he made a feast honoring and sacrificing to the calves he made.
1 Kings 12:32-33
³²Jeroboam instituted a feast in the eighth month on the fifteenth day of the month, like the feast which is in Judah, and he went up to the altar; thus he did in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves which he had made. And he stationed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made.
³³Then he went up to the altar which he had made in Bethel on the fifteenth day in the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised in his own heart; and he instituted a feast for the sons of Israel and went up to the altar to burn incense.
It is absolutely unscriptural for the church to observe such things, in any way other than to the Biblical truth regarding the birth of Christ, or what the Bible teaches about evil spirits and life after death.
Just as it was apostasy for the northern kingdom of Israel to establish its own “holy days”, it is an apostasy for the church to observe man-made holy days under Christ.
And when people say that they cannot celebrate Christmas without a tree, candles, presents, a luxurious meal, and all dressed up beautifully, it seems to me to be a different kind of celebration, than remembering the birth of the Christ.
On the other hand, does the context of this passage really lend itself to application regarding celebrating Christmas? See for yourself.
King Jeroboam instituted his own holy days – One of the popes decided that it would be better to celebrate the birth of the Christ on a pagan “holy day” to get the Romans who celebrated it with him.
They were worshiping golden calves – Before different tribes in Europe were worshipping trees (oaks and pines; the trees which stayed green all year through date back to Nimrod). And what is the difference between dancing and chanting around a tree, or sitting and singing praise to the “christmas tree” about its beautiful branches?
It is a pagan “holy day”
In Deuteronomy we read a clear warning about pagan “holy days”
²⁹When the Lord your God cuts off before you the nations which you are going in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, ³⁰beware that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How do these nations serve their gods, that I also may do likewise?’
³¹You shall not behave thus toward the Lord your God, for every abominable act which the Lord hates they have done for their gods; for they even burn their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods.
³²Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it.
The Bible here clearly, and expressly forbids celebrating holidays that are or were held by pagans. In other words, the BIBLE says we can NOT “christianize” the pagan holidays.
But is Christmas originating from a pagan holiday?
The answer can be short. Yes, the roots of Christmas are in a pagan “holy day” (see above)
Many millions keep these days without even knowing why. For them it is these days nothing more than a few nice days with the family by candlelight, and singing songs around, or to the tree. (Oh christmas tree, Jingle bells, etc).
Many millions keep these days without even knowing where they originated.
Most suppose that they are “found in the Bible” because they see millions of Christians observing them. But they are not!
Here is what the Christ said about the popular customs and traditions of this world:
⁷But in vain do they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’
⁸Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to THE TRADITION OF MEN.
⁹He was also saying to them, You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.
What many do with christmas is teaching as doctrines the commandments of men, REJECTING THE COMMANDMENT OF GOD, so that you may keep their own tradition
These verses surely do give us something to think about, BUT in this case this passage is taken out of context. Celebrating Christmas (as in remembering the birth of the Christ) does not reject any commandment of God in order to keep a tradition.
To use this verse in this way is an opinion looking for a verse to substantiate it.
The Pharisees in this text manipulated the law of God for their own benefit. They followed their traditions instead of the Bible. They were accusing the disciples of lawlessness because the disciples did not wash their hands before they ate. To apply this passage to any real discussion of Christmas is lacking merit.
Pagan customs condemned
In fact, the pagan customs associated with Christmas are clearly condemned in the scriptures. Here is a well known example:
²Thus says the Lord, “Do not learn the way of the nations, And do not be terrified by the signs of the heavens although the nations are terrified by them;
³For the customs of the peoples are delusion; Because it is wood cut from the forest, The work of the hands of a craftsman with a cutting tool.
⁴They decorate it with silver and with gold; They fasten it with nails and with hammers so that it will not totter.
When we look at this passage it looks like it is speaking about the christmas tree
“wood cut from the forest … with a cutting tool”, “decorated with silver and gold”, “fastened with nails and hammers, so that it will not totter”.
But in those days, nothing like a christmas tree was known, and this was a warning to Israel. The context reflects Israel’s apostasy and judgement from God. These verses critique idolatry and affirm the Lord is Ruler over all (Jer 10:1-16).
Although these verses clearly were not written down with Christmas in mind (which did not exist by then) they seem too to some…
Let us see what it means.
“Do not learn the way of the Gentiles” means that the Israelites were not to learn or practice the Gentiles’ false religious practices of idolatry.
“Do not be dismayed at the signs in the heavens similar to the Gentiles” relates to how the Gentiles were in awe of astrology. Some assume that it means they were fretting over the shortened daylight hours. Dismayed does not have that sense here in the Hebrew; instead, it is referring to being in awe.
“For one cuts down a tree from the forest” relates to the practice of making idols out of wood. They were not cutting down trees for Christmas trees. Instead, they cut wood in order to carve an idol. There is no legitimate text-driven, context-driven connection of “cutting a tree” to refer to a cedar tree.
“They decorate it with silver and gold; they fasten it with nails and hammers so that it will not topple” again refers to idols not Christmas trees. They would cover the outside of these wooden idols with silver and gold plating. They would attach them to a stand so that they would not fall over as people worshiped them. This does not refer in any way to someone putting silver and gold ornaments on a Christmas tree that is in a stand so that it will not fall.
Although this passage at face value may apply to some, with further study, it is solely related to making gold or silver-plated idols from wood they cut in the forest. This did not relate to Christmas trees.
So can you celebrate christmas?
As I said before, you may remember the great love of God, that He gave His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16) on any day of the year (also in December).
● But when you can only do this at December 25th and 26th (pagan “holy days”),
● But when you can only do this with a tree (a pagan ceremony, dating back to the days of Nimrod),
● But when you can only do this with presents (a pagan use),
● But when you can only do this with candles (a use brought in by the catholic church)
● But when you can only do this with a luxurious meal (a pagan use)
● But when you can only do this all dressed (a pagan use)
You will soon find that you are not at all thinking about God’s gift anymore, and that satan has tricked you into a pagan ceremony, practicing all kinds of pagan uses.
So, when you choose not to practice it for conscience sake, because you believe that you would break a command of God, that is fine. For each person must make up his or her own mind and live accordingly. That which is done not in faith is sin (Rom 14:23).
²²The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. ²³But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.
Paul writes to the Colossians:
See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.
This text warns us to be careful with whatever we take from the world (also the worldly customs around christmas) versus what we take from the Scriptures.
Paul’s concern revolves around the Christian’s worldview. The warning should be taken seriously by all of us. We do not want to adopt any practice or celebration that minimizes our worship of Christ because of worldly traditions or philosophy.
Therefore, as we celebrate Christmas, as Christians generally, we must protect our own minds and hearts. We celebrate the birth of Christ only. All other Christmas traditions should be seen as distractions from our worship of the Christ.
For the Christians, christmas is about Christ!
- You can choose to celebrate Christmas with your family in ways that honor the Christ. This would mean saying “no” to Santa Claus. And saying “no” to a christmas tree, and anything else that is distracting your attention from the Christ.
Your primary focus should solely be on celebrating the Christ.
Any worldly celebration does not point to the Christ!
- Or you can choose to not celebrate Christmas for conscience sake. If your conscience says “no” and you cannot celebrate “in faith,” then do not celebrate it (Rom 14:23). To celebrate it with a burdened conscience would make it sin for you, although it is not sinful for others.
There are also three attitudes to consider as well:
Regardless of which position you take, do not hold your position in pride or self-righteousness. The other person is as true to his or her beliefs as you.
Assume the other person desires to honor God even more than you do – this should be an automatic assumption. Therefore, practice what you do with a clear conscience and appreciate the other person who also desires to honor the Lord.
Under no circumstances should we look at a person who chooses differently than us with judgement. Heaven forbid that we would see ourselves as wiser, more obedient, and more holy than another person in this area.
Pride looks at another person as immature and yourself as the mature person.
And remember pride was the first sin, that made satan, and Adam and Eve fall.
Wherever you land in this discussion, enjoy and celebrate Christ. Share the good news of the virgin birth, sacrificial death, substitutionary atonement, and glorious resurrection.
Take advantage of the time of the year where people seem more willing to discuss Christ by sharing the Gospel as you can.