Expand God's Kingdom with Scott Rankin

Does God Give Santa Milk & Cookies?

Author Scott Rankin
Does God Give Santa Milk & Cookies?


(chapter 12 from "The Christian Christmas Condition")

Does Santa Claus bring honor to God? If God’s word tells us not to lie (Leviticus 19:11; Proverbs 12:22; Proverbs 13:5; Proverbs 14:5; John 8:44; Colossians 3:9), then what are we doing trying to convince our children that the blessings they receive on Christmas day come from a jolly red elf who lives at the North Pole and rides in a magic sleigh pulled by flying reindeer (one of which has a glowing red nose), who knows when they’re sleeping and when they’re awake, who sees all their deeds, good or bad, and who delivers the good things they ask him for? If you say, “But Santa is not a lie; he is the spirit of goodness in all of us as we give to our children,” you need to hold on and wait for more than just a “New York minute.”

Be very careful; if you believe the statement that Santa is the spirit of goodness in us, then you just replaced the Holy Spirit with a fictitious fat elf!

The Spirit of God lives inside us (1 Corinthians 3:16; 1 Corinthians 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16; 2 Timothy 1:14; Romans 8:11; John 16:13; Romans 8:9; Galatians 4:6; and 1 John 2:27), and all good things come from God (James 1:17).

There are qualities reserved for God and God alone. When we support the stories of Santa, we rob God of the honor only He deserves.

The lies of Santa dishonor God and can potentially set our children up for a fall from faith. If you think I’m exaggerating, look at the table on the next page listing some of the most common Christmas lies we tell our children and compare them with the corresponding Christian truths that we should be reinforcing in their precious, impressionable, and most valuable minds:

What we tell our children about SANTA:

Bible reference:

What we should be teaching our children about GOD:

Santa is jolly (filled with joy).

1 John 4:8; Nehemiah 8:10

God is the only being filled completely with love, and His Joy is our strength!

Santa knows when you are sleeping, when you’re awake, when you’re bad or good.

Matthew 6:8; Luke 12:7; Psalm 33:13-15; Jeremiah 23:23-24; Proverbs 15:3; Hebrews 4:13

God knows what you need before you ask; He sees all good and all bad, He even knows the number of hairs on your head! Even with our deepest secrets, nothing is hidden from God… NOTHING!

Santa lives in a place we can’t see or visit (Workshop at the North Pole).

Jeremiah 23:23-24;1Kings 8:43; Matthew 6:9; Hebrews 9:24; 1Corinthians 3:16;1Kings 8:27; Ephesians 2:22

In Jeremiah, God tells us He fills both heaven and earth. The New Testament tells us God lives inside us. As a spirit being, God is everywhere.

Santa delivers what we ask for and gives good gifts.

John 15:7; Luke 12:32; Psalms 35:27; James 1:17

God wants to bless all His children. It is God’s good pleasure and delight to bless us.

Santa can do magical & impossible things.

Matthew 19:26; Genesis 18:14

With God all things are possible!

Santa visits those who believe in him.

Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38

Without faith, it is impossible to please God, and the righteous shall live by faith… in God.


We have just considered several characteristics that are reserved for God and God alone. When we superimpose these qualities onto Santa, it is a form of stealing honor from God and having our Lord “share” the throne with Santa. This is a subtle form of dethroning our God. Satan (the Devil) wanted to do the same thing from the beginning, and God threw him out of the heavenly kingdom along with one-third of all the angels who went along with his scheme to dethrone God (Ezekiel 28:11-19; Revelation 12). But placing Santa on God’s throne is not the only subliminal, destructive thing we are doing to our children. These Santa stories we weave into our children’s impressionable minds work to slowly dissolve the solid pillars of truth, which they need to rely on in order to stand firm in their faith when a rough day of spiritual warfare comes to attack their belief in God.

Watch how this little example illustrates the way parents could potentially harm the critical decision-making moment of an older teenager being released into the world to be on their own:

We tell our young children, “Trust us (adults), there is someone out there you can’t see, who is full of joy and cares about everyone, including you and your happiness. We sing songs about him. He knows everything! When you’re awake, he knows. When you’re asleep, he knows! Whether you do good, or bad, he knows! Send him your requests by means of letters mailed to a place you can’t visit to tangibly verify his existence. Forget about verification, just believe by faith! He lives in a magical kingdom with lots of helpers to deliver what is most desirable in your heart. So, you better watch out, you better be good for the sake of goodness - He’s coming… he’s coming soon… he’s coming to town.”

When those impressionable minds reach a certain age, we then reveal the “truth” that this mythical old man is NOT REAL! He’s just a made-up character to bring hope and happiness into a troubled world. We say, “I know I told you to trust me THEN, but now you can trust me today. Now that you’re old enough and smart enough to handle the real truth (as if there’s a fake truth?), here it is: he doesn’t know everything, he doesn’t answer your letters, he doesn’t even have a magical kingdom with lots of helpers, and there’s really no need to be good for Santa Claus’ sake. He’s not coming to town because he DOES NOT REALLY EXIST.”

Once we get all that straightened out in their minds, we pile the kids in the car on Sunday and drive to church to worship and sing songs about a joy-filled miracle being that lives in a place we cannot see. We tell the kids, “trust me!” He knows your heart, He knows when you sin, and He knows when you bless others. We try to convince them that He loves us and has our best interest at heart. We can send Him our requests through prayer, and He hears and answers those prayers. He lives in a place we cannot visit, with winged beings that He created as helpers. Even though we can’t see Him or where He resides, we believe all this by faith. And once you’re saved, you need to be good for His sake because one day He’s coming… He’s coming soon… He’s coming back for us.

If you convincingly support the LIE of Santa, then what makes you so trustworthy when it comes to the TRUTH of God?

Some might argue you can’t blame the lie of Santa if children fall away from their own faith. Okay. Although the lie itself can at least explain a small part of the negative influence, the real focus is not on the lie alone, but on the character and the trustworthiness of the one telling the lie!  You.  If Santa Claus is not real, then what are you? What is Santa?

This is a great time, and opportunity to segue into a fantastic description of what Santa Claus really is. While researching for this book, I came across a fabulous presentation about the three “D’s” that describe Santa. I got this information from Todd Friel, the host of wretched.org, and I want to share it with you now. Santa is Deception, Distraction, and Distortion. I’ve added some of my own thoughts to Todd’s presentation, but here’s the basic breakdown:


In short, you’re being dishonest. Dear friends, please hear this... when you lie, you are a liar. The flames of a lying tongue can so quickly burn the bridges of trust. Trustworthiness, after telling a lie, is so hard to regain. It is difficult for anyone, especially a child, to have faith in a liar.

Yes, we want our children to trust us, but even more importantly, we want our character of truthfulness to represent the God who made us and who we worship.

Follow me, if you will, through this irony: I’m created by a good God who tells me not to lie and commands me to tell the world (and my children) the truth about Him and His great goodness. He also wants me to stand apart from, and be a light to, a world that wants to lie, and wants me to compromise my faith and my values by participating in the telling of the “white lies” of Santa. However, when I follow the crowd and I tell one of their harmless “white lies” to my children, I dishonor and degrade the perfect God of truth I am supposed to be representing. Then I hypocritically turn to teach my children how important it is to continually demonstrate God’s good character (the very same good character that should have kept me from telling the lies I just told)! Is this what our God wants? Really?

Sharing the lie of Santa Claus brings dishonor to the God who made us. It desecrates the character of goodness that He desires to transform us into and destroys the trustworthiness of all our testimonies we should have as His ambassadors to the world. The spreading of the lie of Santa weakens the believability in a God who is always honest, faithful and trustworthy! Santa does not bring honor to God. Satan (the devil) does not bring honor to God either. He wants us to be just like him… liars!


Jesus should be the entire focus in any celebration dedicated to Him. Imagine if you were at a party to celebrate your birthday and everyone spent the majority of the time focusing on, singing to, talking to, sitting beside, talking about, laughing with, and honoring some other guy they brought to the party whom you don’t even know! Not only would it make you feel rejected, but the most important issue would be the egregious lack of honor and respect from the people who set out to lift you up with recognition in the first place. If anyone deserves all glory, honor, and respect at a party for Jesus, it’s not Santa—it’s Jesus!

Any amount of time we spend on other things like Santa Claus, giving presents out of compulsion or giving presents that say “from Santa”, reading ’Twas the Night Before Christmas, or any other Santa traditions that are replacing the character traits of God is time NOT being spent honoring Jesus and His Father. Santa is a distraction that takes time and focus away from our quest to put Jesus first in every part of our lives (whether in December or any other month).


Some people use Santa to establish a “common ground” in conversations with intentions of witnessing about God by paralleling the similar characteristics of both. There is nothing wrong with a desire to share the gospel or lead people to God, Jesus, or salvation, but using Santa as a bridge can do more harm than good. To explain, allow me to first… unveil Satan’s game plan:

Consider Ephesians 6:12, “For our wrestling [battle] is not against flesh and blood [each other], but against the principalities, … powers, … rulers of the darkness of this age, and against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places [invisible spiritual realm].” Satan is the leader of these invisible principalities, and his weapons against us are lies and deceptions to keep us from knowing absolute truth. Our invisible battle as Christians is against ANYTHING that threatens to distort God’s pure truth. Only the perfect truth of who God really is, and the undiluted truth of who we are in Christ can properly influence the decisions we make and actions we take enough to bring the greatest honor and glory to God (i.e. If Satan can simply distort the truth of who God really is, then God receives less glory from our misguided actions).

Stories and legends of Santa did not come from God. Satan, using whispers on shoulders, with all the time in the world from the third century until today, set out to create a character we Christians would embrace like a Trojan Horse! This imaginary personality of joy and benevolence had to be larger than life in each aspect, but short of God in every single one. So, Satan began weaving the tale, and he gave us just what he wanted us to want. And so today, after swallowing hook, line, sinker… and sled, some Christians not only embrace this Trojan Sleigh Driver, but they use him for evangelizing, mistakenly drawing a holey analogy to a Holy God. End result: God’s true nature is diluted, distorted, and misunderstood… Satan wins that match!

Now that you know the game plan from the “Father of Lies,” let’s compare and contrast the qualities of God and Jesus (who are one and the same) versus Santa, observing the delicate yet destructive differences between the two.

I would like you to see precisely how the weapon of subtle distortion from this roaring lion (who secretly seeks to devour us) allows Satan to easily leave devastating “Claus marks” in his victims.

The reason we act good for Santa is because he requires good behavior BEFORE the gift is given. (“He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake!” Or, if you’re bad, you’ll get a lump of coal for Christmas.) With Santa, we must EARN our gift!

The reason we behave well for Jesus is because we are responding to a gift that has already been given to us. We honor Jesus’ request to imitate Him (Eph. 5:1-2), and love others out of thankfulness after the fact. “But God commends His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). With Jesus, our eternal gift is His UNEARNED, unmerited favor! Santa only gives gifts. God and Jesus not only give us gifts, but also wisdom, value, identity, power, authority, favor, and salvation (I’m sure there’s even more somewhere).

On the surface, it may seem like an insignificant difference, but “being good” in the Santa example requires constant action on man’s part to keep on earning. With Santa, that is bondage. With Satan, that is slavery.  But with the gift of God, we are set free!  Two completely different… contrasting paradigms.

When paralleling the nature of Santa to the nature of God, people can easily miss the tiny subtleties and get confused, assuming they too must “earn” their salvation, just like earning Santa’s present. But believing in Jesus is simply renewing your mind’s understanding that salvation already came from God, and our physical surrendering of trying to earn salvation is the only way to access the salvation that’s already been bought for us.

Since these two ways of receiving the gift are diametrically opposed… it is impossible, disrespectful, and dangerous to use Santa as an appropriate parallel to God. Even a small distortion makes a huge difference when salvation is on the line! Santa is distortion.

It is not my intention to steal away future happy holiday moments by forcing Santa Claus out of your holiday habits. However I do want to help you open the door to even happier moments God will bring to those who willingly choose not to blend in, but boldly stand out by freely living in the character of honesty to your children and to the world. When Christians blend in, it is IMPOSSIBLE to stand out.

God doesn’t want us to follow the crowd! He wants us to be set apart for His name, be a city set on a hill, be a light to a dark world (Matthew 5:14-16). He wants us to be transformed into His likeness (Romans 8:29; 12:2; 2 Corinthians 3:18). When Christians stand out, it is IMPOSSIBLE to blend in.

Which do you choose? Jesus told us He only does what the father shows Him to do. (John 5:19). Jesus teaches us to follow God’s lead.

God doesn’t set out a plate of cookies on Christmas Eve… so why should we?

>>> END OF BLOG >>>

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