“‘O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?’ The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”-1 Cor. 15:55-57
How are Christians to view death? The thought of dying can make us feel uneasy and perhaps a little scared. Death is a grieving time for the family who has lost a loved one. I lost my father in March of 2005 to lung cancer. It was then that death became very personal to me. I had never lost someone within my immediate family until then. The death of my father started making me think of my relationship with the Lord. Would I be ready when my time to die came? Though the time when my father died and thereafter was very difficult, it caused me to reflect upon Christ’s finished work that He had done for us. The Scripture tells us of how Christ has defeated Satan, death, and the grave. Though this is indeed true, we still die (Col. 2:14, 15; 1 Cor. 15:54-57; Hebrews 2:14). We still have to endure the difficulty of those around us dying, especially our loved ones. How is it that Christ is victorious over death, and yet we still die? God’s word tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:56, “the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the Law.” The Law of God is holy and shows us our need of a Savior. The Law can only condemn us’ furthermore, it has no redeeming power. Our just punishment for breaking God’s law is death. By death I mean the second death, the Lake of Fire. However, if sin is pardoned, then death is rendered harmless to those in Christ. Christ saved us and has forgiven our sins. Christ took our due punishment on behalf of those who would believe, and rose victoriously to give us the promise of eternal life. For those who are in Christ, death is harmless and it then becomes a mere transition from this life to the next. Death is the path we have to go in order to go home to the Lord.
Donald Grey Barnhouse, a famous bible teacher from the 1950’s, lost his wife to cancer when she was in her thirties. On their way to the funeral his oldest daughter asked him, “If Jesus died for our sins why do we still die?”
The sun was shining brightly as Barnhouse pointed to a large truck that roared past them. Then he asked, “Tell me, sweetheart, would you rather be run over by that truck or its shadow?”
“By the shadow,” she replied, “It can’t hurt you.”
Barnhouse nodded and said, “Did you know that two thousand years ago, the truck of death ran over the Lord Jesus in order that only its shadow might run over us? Your mother has not been overrun by death, but by the shadow of death. That is nothing to fear.”
Christ lived for us, died for us, rose from the grave for us, and has redeemed us from the power of the Law. He has removed the sting of death, and has rendered Satan powerless over those in Christ. While the death of a loved one is a difficult time, if they are in Christ, we are to rejoice that they are not hurting any longer, but are in the presence of God. Our departed loved ones in Christ are more alive now than they ever were here. The Lord Jesus has conquered and redeemed His people. Death is disarmed and Hell is no more.
Joshua Banks is senior pastor and founder of Shepherd’s Rock Bible
Church in Kingsport, TN. He holds a Bachelors degree in Ministry from
Luther Rice University, a Master of Arts in Theological Studies, and a
Master of Divinity both from Liberty University. Joshua and his wife
Amanda, along with their 5 children, reside in Gate City, VA.