Earlier this week, people engaged in rituals around Halloween, All Saints Day, and Day of the Dead. What are the origins of these observances? Among other things, they are acknowledgements that every human being must face the power of Death and its accompanying decay. Death frightens and fascinates us. Many trivialize, marginalize, dramatize, and glamorize it. But God gives his perspective and victory over Death to those who trust him.
Here’s part of the Biblical account of how humans first tasted Death.
… just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—
Romans 5:12 NIV
This passage refers to Genesis 3 and Adam’s gargantuan opening act of distrust and disobedience, granting Death and decay their power to ravage all mankind from that time onward. This cataclysm was worse than any natural disaster, but then:
…if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! Romans 5:17 NIV
If you’ve experienced the power over sin and Death that Jesus Christ provided through HIS death and resurrection – take a moment to celebrate. We were helpless against Death until he provided his way out of the devastation.
But look at King David’s words in Psalm 44:22 NIV
…for your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.
We battle death and sin daily. Consider the apostle Paul’s counter perspective to trivializing Death, as he declares the value of Jesus’ resurrection life.
If the dead are not raised,
“Let us eat and drink,
for tomorrow we die.”
Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” I Corinthians 15:32-33 NIV
Paul emphasizes if we ignore the power of Christ’s resurrection and adopt a cavalier attitude toward sin and Death, godly character will be impacted.
As Paul continues this letter, he builds to this massive crescendo:
Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. I Corinthians 15:51-57 NIV
Do you love these three words: imperishable, immortal, victorious? They become a part of us as we cling to Jesus. Death and decay brought on by sin are diminished and defanged – Death loses its sting and we have the promise it will be forever banished from God’s kingdom. This is not the case with “the dead” (those who cling to decaying, perishable, worldly systems and false gods).
…and each person [in the group God calls “the dead”] was judged according to what they had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:13-15 NIV
Thank God he’s provided our only way to victory over Death in this life and the life to come – the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Think about Death’s final destiny – eliminated from the lives of Jesus’ followers forever. Death will no longer bother us as we revel in God’s full and glorious presence.
If Death seems to hold a winning position in an area of your life, meditate on Romans 6. Ask another trusted Saint to pray that you regain God’s perspective and are able to again rest in the power of his resurrection.