Monday, July 25, 2011

Victory Over The Sting Of Death

I've been swimming in the book of Romans lately. My focus has primarily been in chapters 5-8, and 12. Such raw life in these chapters! Nearly every verse is underlined in my Bible because of how powerful the words are. Would you like to read the passages that have racked my brain? I probably won't be able to share them all because there's so many but I'll list the references of the major passages. Romans 5:12-19, 5:20-6:4, 6:11-23, 7:14-25, the entire chapter 8, and the entire chapter 12. There is such amazing truth and revolutionary theology here! Paul writes about life, death, the cross, slavery to sin, slavery to righteousness, the Spirit, God's love, our flow of thoughts, transformation, renewal, and the qualities of love.

Look at Romans 5:12-19. Here, Paul talks about death and life. He says that just as sin entered the world through one man (Adam), the gift of salvation also entered the world through one Man (Jesus Christ). I love Paul's analogy here. He describes sin as "the trespass", which to me paints an image of God drawing a line in the sand and instructing Adam to not cross it, but Adam did. Adam trespassed on God's property. Paul also refers to salvation as "the gift", which is later explained in Romans 6:23, "...the gift of God is eternal life..." Romans 5:15 says, "But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. For 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!"

If that wasn't deep enough, let's jump right into the next verse: "Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous." In case you didn't catch it, the first "one man" Paul mentions is Adam, and the second "one man" is Christ. So what Paul is saying here is basically that God's grace is bigger than our sins. All it takes is one sin to be condemned. But because of Jesus' righteous act on the cross, there is justification and life for all people. Romans 6:10 says, "The death [Christ] died, He died to sin once and for all; but the life He lives, He lives to God." These verses completely debunk the misled belief that you can lose your salvation. Believe it or not, there are some misguided people who think some sins are worse than others and when a Christian does one of those sins, he's loses his salvation. Scripture says otherwise. Christ only had to die once to justify us. He doesn't have to get back up on the cross each time we sin. He took the blame once and for all. Sin is no longer our master (Rom. 6:14) and it has absolutely no control over us anymore ("us" referring to Christ's church). We have been set free from sin and we are no longer slaves to sin but slaves to righteousness (Rom. 6:18)! We have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, and that leads to holiness, which leads to eternal life (Romans 6:22).

Do you see why I love Romans so much? 1 Corinthians 15:21- says, "For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive." Are you loving this as much as me? In Adam, all die, so in Christ, all will be made alive. What paradox. 1 Corinthians 15:47-48 says, "The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man." In other words, those who are of the earth are like Adam (sin) and just like we used to bear the image of Adam, we will bear the image of the heavenly man (righteousness). Paul continues: "I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable... 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."

How great is His love and grace that He gives us the victory over the sting of death. Death has lost its sting and sin has no grip on me.

At Ichthus Music Festival 2011, Lecrae told a parable; it went something like this: A girl and her daddy were walking in a field one day. Suddenly a bee buzzed frantically around the girl's head and the girl, for fear of being stung, screamed and cowered. But the father reached out calmly and caught the bee in his hand. After holding it for a few seconds, he released the bee. "Daddy!" screamed the girl, "Why did you let it go? Now it will sting me!" But her father said, "No sweetie. That bee can't hurt you anymore. You see, daddy took the sting out of the bee."

Death no longer has a sting, just like that bee has no more sting. And you know the thing about bees is that they die very soon after losing their stinger. That's why death has no sting and why the grave holds no grip on us! Because Christ, our perfect and heavenly Father, reached out and took the sting for us. How great is His love and grace that He gives us victory over the sting of death.

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