The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
(1 Corinthians 15:26 ESV)
We hate it and we fear it. We hear about it and read about it daily. Try as we might, no one can get away from it. It’s the only thing certain in life (that, and taxes as Ben Franklin said).We don’t know much about death since no one has come back from it.
Except for One. Our Jesus vanquished the enemy.
i. Paul reminds us of something important: death is an enemy. When Jesus came upon the tomb of Lazarus, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled, and Jesus wept (John 11:33; 35). Why? Not simply because Lazarus was dead, for Jesus would raise him shortly. Instead, Jesus was troubled at death itself. It was an enemy. Today, some are told to embrace death as a friend, but that is not Biblical thinking. Death is a defeated enemy because of the work of Jesus, an enemy that will one day be destroyed, and therefore an enemy we need not fear. But death is an enemy nonetheless.
ii. The destruction of death was shown at the resurrection of Jesus, when the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many (Matthew 27:52-53). “When at the Redeemer’s resurrection many of the saints arose and came out of their graves into the holy city then was the crucified Lord proclaimed to be victorious over death and the grave . . . these were but preliminary skirmishes and mere foreshadowings of the grand victory by which death was overthrown.” (Spurgeon)
iii. If death is destroyed, why do Christians die? “Death since Jesus died is not a penal infliction upon the children of God: as such he has abolished it, and it can never be enforced. Why die the saints then? Why, because their bodies must be changed ere they can enter heaven . . . Saints die not now, but they are dissolved and depart.” (Spurgeon)
iv. “Death is not the worst of enemies; death is an enemy, but he is much to be preferred to our other adversaries. It were better to die a thousand times than to sin. To be tried by death is nothing compared to being tempted by the devil. The mere physical pains connected with dissolution are comparative trifles compared with the hideous grief which is caused by sin and the burden which a sense of guilt causes to the soul.” (Spurgeon)
v. “Notice, that death is the last enemy to each individual Christian and the last to be destroyed . . . Brother, do not dispute the appointed order, but let the last be last. I have known a brother wanting to vanquish death long before he died. But, brother, you do not want dying grace till dying moments. What would be the good of dying grace while you are yet alive? A boat will only be needful when you reach a river. Ask for living grace, and glorify Christ thereby, and then you shall have dying grace when dying time comes.” (Spurgeon)
Rejoice! We need not fear death any longer. As He was resurrected, so shall we also. I look forward to that day.
In the meantime, how do we live? Paul answers that in 1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren,
- be firm (steadfast)
- always abounding in the work of the Lord [always being superior, excelling, doing more than enough in the service of the Lord],
- knowing and being continually aware that your labor in the Lord is not futile [it is never wasted or to no purpose]. Amplified
And in 1 Cor 16:13-14
- Be alert and on your guard;
- stand firm in your faith (your conviction respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, keeping the trust and holy fervor born of faith and a part of it).
- Act like men and be courageous;
- grow in strength!
- Let everything you do be done in love (true love to God and man as inspired by God’s love for us).
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?”
(1 Corinthians 15:54-55 ESV)
[Reading from Blue Letter Bible – Chronological Plan]