The Advent wreath is a war flag. It is a reminder that Christmas is really about conflict. As 1 John 3:8 says, “The Son of God appeared to destroy the works of the devil.” All the world lies under the power of the devil (1 John 5:19). But Jesus has destroyed the works of the devil by removing Satan’s power: his ability to accuse Christians of their sin (Revelation 12:9-11). On the cross, Jesus paid the penalty of our sins, and at the same time, defeated the evil cosmic powers (Colossians 2:14-15).
The Advent Wreath, then, symbolizes God’s victory over Satan, sin, and death, which all began when a small baby was born in a dirty animal feed trough.
The circle of evergreen branch symbolizes the goal of God’s work: to give His creatures eternal life and freedom from Satan’s dominion. Just as the evergreen never fades and the circle never ends, so our eternal life is secure because of Jesus.
The First Purple Candle: Hope
The first purple candle symbolizes hope. When Adam and Eve sinned all the way back in the Garden, humanity was ruined and corrupted by sin. Now all people are under the dominion of the devil. But God did not let His creatures go their own way. He got involved. And from the very beginning, Scripture prophesied of a human descendent who would destroy Satan, sin, and death. We have hope in the Coming Savior.
The Lord God said to the serpent,
“Because you have done this
Cursed are you more than all cattle
And more than every beast of the field;
On your belly you will go,
And dust you will eat
All the days of your life;
 And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her seed;
He shall bruise you on the head,
And you shall bruise him on the heel.”
The Second Purple Candle: Love
The second purple candle symbolizes love. Why did God become a man? Why was Jesus born? Because of love. God could have left us to our own devices, destined for His judgment. But our God got involved. He loves His people, not because of anything that they do to earn His favor, but because of His overwhelming mercy and grace.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
The Pink Candle: Joy
The third candle that is lit is usually the pink candle. The pink candle represents joy. We can have exceeding joy because the penalty for our sins have been paid. The power of Satan over us has been broken. And the fear of death has been abolished. All of that happen through Jesus entering our broken world as a baby. And God’s victory march culminated in Jesus’ death and resurrection.
The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;  for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
The Third Purple Candle: Peace
The third purple candle symbolizes peace. Because of Jesus, we can have peace with God. Our war with God is over. We can turn from our rebellion and become friends of God. Satan is defeated. And death is overthrown. Peace reigns through the Prince of Peace, Christ Jesus our Lord.
A child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
The White Candle
The final, white candle in the middle symbolizes Jesus. The candle is pure, just like Jesus was free from all sin (1 Peter 2:22). He was the perfect substitute for our sins (1 Peter 2:24). Although He never sinned, He died for sinners like us.
The Advent wreath is a war flag. It is a declaration that the powers of Satan, sin, and death have been crushed through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
The lyrics of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen sums up the meaning of the Advent wreath well:
God rest ye merry, gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember, Christ, our Saviour
Was born on Christmas day
To save us all from Satan’s power
When we were gone astray
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy