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Death Doesn't Have to Win

January 31, 2018

 

All of us have stared up at the ceiling late at night after finding out the news of an unexpected loss of a loved one.  The ceiling becomes a place for us to project our memories with the one we are separated from.  But our mind does not only allow us to project our memories.  Death also finds its way onto the screen of our minds for us to wrestle with. 

 

When death seems to steal our loved ones and crush those who are left behind, death can become a terrifying reality.  While we need to understand the destructive curse that death has upon this world it is also important to understand the antidote to the eternal dilemma that we face when we confront death.  In short, death doesn’t have to win.

 

Biblically, death is the result of mankind’s attempt to find pleasure, purpose, and joy outside of God.[1]  Eating the fruit was our failed attempt to trust that God was enough in our lives.  But instead, we decided that we wanted more and the best place to begin was with ourselves.  That bite meant that we were enough.  God was no longer needed.[2]

 

In turn, sin was brought forth into our world in which it did not belong.  God, seeing the pain of sin knew that sin came with a cost.  Sin’s corruptive power ate up every atom and soul making up our world.  Eternal joy and sin could not co-exist.  Death must be born, the ultimate cost to our rebellion against God.

 

Husbands, wives, sons, daughters, friends, and neighbors have wept in the wake of death.  Many fists have waved in the air and questions as to why have been screamed in homes that are no longer complete.[3]  Death seems to put the final period upon the story of our lives.  But it doesn't have to.

 

Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:50-58:

 

“I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”

“O death, where is your victory?

O death, where is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”

 

I hope that you see that you were made to live forever.  Immortality is not just something that we see in the movies, but it is the truth that weighs upon our souls.  We grieve death for a just reason, because it is not supposed to be.  Our lives were not supposed to be disposable, but eternal.  His breath that He breathed into us was not supposed to end.

"Death seems to put the final period upon the story of our lives.  But it doesn’t have to."

How then can Paul mock death as he shouts, “O death, where is your victory?  O death where is your sting?”  Paul has to have access to something that triumphs over death.  Paul says that this victory is through Jesus Christ, but how did Jesus do it?

 

As Christians, we call this the good news.  The fact that God became a man who lived a perfect life proclaiming His eternal home to us and that He himself was the doorway into that home.  He became that doorway by taking on our sins when he gave his perfect life as payment for sins.  But He didn’t just overpower sin; He obliterated death when He came back to life three days later.  Death is for humanity and all humanity consists of sinners, except the one who was more than just a human.  This Jesus has completed what no man can do alone, trampled death and put it to open shame.  There is no power in death for those who are in Jesus.  Jesus is the power of the new life found through Him.

 

But how then am I to have access into this new life?  Romans 5:2 tells us, “Through him(Jesus) we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”  Grace?  Through faith, we have access into what undeserved gift?  What is Paul talking about?

 

Paul is talking about life.  Real untainted, sin obliterated, joy overflowing, life.  This life is possible because death was destroyed and sins were covered.  Sin and death cannot dwell in the presence of pure joy.  God knows this and has made a way where death does not have to win.[4]  We get access to the grace of God by having faith in what Jesus has done through the sacrifice of His life for our sins and the resurrection of His life to defeat death.  Do you have faith that Jesus can give you life?  Do you need it?  Again I tell you, death does not have to win.  There is a way to life and His life lasts forever.

 

 

Notes                                 

[1] Genesis 3:19

[2] Genesis 3:2-7

[3] Job 3

[4] Revelation 20:11-15

 

Caleb Rawls – is the pastor of Pleasant Home Baptist Church in Laurel Mississippi, and husband to Taylor Rawls.  Together they strive to lead the church to reach out to their community and world.  And yes, they have a dog named Tiglath-Pileser.

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