1 Corinthians 15:26 “The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.”
Have you ever had someone who considered themself your enemy? Most people don’t want to have enemies; enemies cause trouble and create heartache. When I think of those that would be an enemy they are people who despise, are hateful, or don’t have others best interest in mind. Attempts at resolving differences often require wisdom, patience, and in many circumstances reconciliation isn’t possible.
God’s Word states who the enemies of His people are, and what they should know in regards to the attacks that will come. It’s interesting that God doesn’t always rid His people of those who hate them, there are many times He uses enemies in growing and strengthening His people.
Paul was troubled by many enemies, some of them were more troublesome than others.
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 “And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Notice how God responded when Paul sought deliverance?
“My Grace is sufficient for You, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
Enemies can reduce us in weakness or they might expose the weaknesses we didn’t know we had. In the days of city states, if a city wanted to be secure the people had to plan and prepare for how to reinforce it. Reinforcing the defenses was important for preparation. If we fail to prepare our defenses then when the battle occurs, wherever the weaknesses lie, is where the enemy will exploit.
We have spiritual fortifications that must be reinforced.
Fortified or Vulnerable?
For those who have not trusted in the Lord, they have no strength by which to repel an attack. They dwell in enemy lands and Satan is who rules over them. Any striving against spiritual forces is futile for someone who lacks the power to defend themself. Fear dominates the life of an unbeliever, insecurity always is in the wings, and the future is bleak with those who live for themselves.
God’s people are under the rule and reign of Christ. They are not subjected to fear for the Lord their God is their strength. Their future is full of hope and their path is set by the Lord…and yet the enemy still looks for opportunity to attack them.
How do God’s people leave themselves open for attack?
A Vice is something we feel dependent on and can be a route of attack. Whether the vice is alcohol, smoking, or even food, anything that makes us dependent on something for our well being gives opportunity for fear and fear is a tool of the enemy.
Psalm 119:133 “Order my steps in Your word; let no sin rule over me.”
Safety is another inroad for fear. If I am worried about my health then any threat brings with it a reaction to secure protection, often leading to forgetting God’s provision. It is impossible to prevent every threat, there’s a point when it’s necessary to trust God’s provision; this might be with someone who oversees treatment or a process that is out of our control…the goal is to place everything under His control.
Psalm 40:2 “He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.”
Change can be very distressing. When my environment changes around me there is uncertainty. We might lack certainty in our lives and feel the lack of control. For those who want to maintain control over everything, there is a point when it becomes impossible. We must ask ourselves if we will finally trust God or continue to hold onto everything as long as we can.
2 Samuel 23:5 “Is it not my family God has chosen? Yes, he has made an everlasting covenant with me. His agreement is arranged and guaranteed in every detail. He will ensure my safety and success.”
The fear of Death is a very compelling opportunity the enemy readily takes advantage of. What is it about the prospect of dying that carries so much distress? Is it that people think death is going to be some horrible experience or could it be the conclusion of life brings uncertainty? I’ve seen people try to hold onto every last ounce of life through horrible circumstances and wondered why they fight so hard. One surgery after another with amputations or some form of organ replacement, taking a mountain of medications while the pain and suffering from trying to stay alive seemed far more tragic than the prospect of death.
1 Corinthians 15:56 “The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.”
The Lord is the One who holds the key to life, the power of death has been vanquished at the cross for those who believe. Death was the one card Satan used to hold that held any kind of victory and he lost it when Jesus arose from the grave—Victorious!
Hosea 13:14 “I will ransom them from the power of Sheol; I will redeem them from Death. Where, O Death, are your plagues? Where, O Sheol, is your sting? Compassion is hidden from My eyes.”
Before Christ people were held captive by the power of death. The Moral law brought condemnation upon all who offended it and there was no recourse but the sacrifice of animals. The guilt offerings only fulfilled the immediate offense, they couldn’t satisfy the judgement of sin by which man had been placed under—the expectation of perfection was impossible to grasp.
When God formed Creation, it was made after His own nature—
When man sinned, Creation became corrupt. All of Creation has been changed because of mankind’s rebellion.
When people bring accusation against God’s Creation, against all that they see as being devoid of love or reflected in hate…they bring accusations against their own nature.
Jesus paid the Ransom
Alive or dead, people had been held captive by death.
Jesus introduced perfection back into our world and through that perfection was able to ransom our souls. Through His death, He brought Life. By His love He fulfilled the requirement of the law, (which is condemnation), and once and for all paid the price for our iniquities.
Hallelujah!—-THIS IS THE GOOD NEWS OF THE GOSPEL.
When we die to ourselves, we take on the Life that Christ made possible to us. This is the great paradox of life.
Romans 7:6 “But now, having died to what bound us, we have been released from the law, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.”
There now stands on the horizon, a great hope. We need no longer fear the uncertainty of death but we can rest assured in the certainty of Christ Jesus our Lord.
We must not neglect so great of a Salvation. The exuberance that we show in trying to keep our bodies alive should be redirected into what keeps our souls alive. Whether we die young or die old, on the spectrum of eternity the difference is miniscule.
People will say how much of a tragedy it was that someone was taken far too young. “They still had so much life to live”, are the concessions of remorse and yet I wonder what in life was lost that leads to regret?—-the desire to work more hours? Acquiring more possessions? Going to more parties? What in life has such unsurpassing value that made their death such a tragedy? What does this world hold that has any value left in it at all?
Those who walk in the Spirit do the will of the Father and it is His perfect will that lends value to life.
If the Lord chooses to take someone “early”, there is a reason for it. When someone is in their 90’s and the family tells the physician to do everything they can to keep their family member alive, they treat them with a selfish hatred that makes those in health care just shake their heads in disgust. Far too many times I’ve watched grandparents go through medical procedures that cause immense suffering only to die in their hospital beds soon thereafter.
The value of life is that which Jesus gives. If we placed greater emphasis on what is important to the Lord and less of what is important to us we might have a different perspective in death.
Mark 12:30-31 “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
When we walk with a heavenly perspective versus an earthly one, we walk with a different purpose. Life becomes worth living and death brings a future hope, not a curse. The last enemy is spiritual death and that was satisfied by Christ for all who believe.
Jesus changes everything. Walk in Him and trust Him and the fear and anxiety of death will dissipate with the world and all that is in it.
There is hope. Die to yourself and live in it.