1 Corinthians 15:55 | Death to Life

When we think of life and death we think being born and then one day dying thus life and then death. But the Christian world view is the opposite. Death and then life. Before life there is only death. The distinction is very important and the twist changes everything about how this current life is lived. People do not like to think of death in real sobering terms, but since we are on the Halloween season where zombies and skeletons are all the rage I do want to pause and be sober about the reality of death.

God through the Bible tells us that because of sin (all the evil stuff we do) there is no amount of good that we can do to counterbalance all the bad we have done in life. This world is dead. This world is temporary. We may see life, building, and new but it is all temporary. A last gasp of air leaving us and the planet dead.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience. Ephesians 2:1-2 ESV

Sobering. Not as much fun as Halloween but scary as hell. Death does not await because death has already arrived. So if we are not moving from to life to death because we are already dead then how does one move from death to life? How do we exit the nightmare of hell, zombies, and curses?

Before I answer that question, I have a question for you dear reader. Are we the sum of physical chemical reactions and when those stop, we cease to exists? When this body dies is there nothing? How we answer that question points to life.

The church in Corinth had a faction that rejected the idea of a resurrection. They believed the same as the secularist today that when this body expires that that was that. To this Paul in his letter to the church clearly states that what is a Christian who does not believe life is the future state?

12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:12-14 ESV

Central to the belief in God is that life awaits. And God has already demonstrated his power over death by raising Jesus from the dead on the third day. Jesus all of his physical chemical reactions were done. He was dead. He was placed in a tomb with all the burial procedures and left there for three days.

That is the end of the story death is still lord and master of this world. Christianity never has a start because Christ died. “You were dead in trespasses and sins” the Bible states. You “were” dead does not mean you “are” dead. Christians are no longer dead they are alive. Why because Christ did not stay in that grave.

[Jesus Speaking] I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. Revelation 1:18 ESV

Death is defeated. Jesus makes all things subject to his authority as part of the triune God. Death has no hold on the Creator. So the opportunity stands how to move past the horror of Halloween and into the spring of life. Jesus draws all peoples to him for life. Dear reader there is nothing more important than this life or death choice. Live with Christ or stay dead in your sins. Call on Jesus. Enter into a conversation with the Creator who made you more than the physical and chemical reactions of your present body.

53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 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.” 55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 1 Corinthians 15:53-55 ESV

Romans 7:1 | When in Rome

There is an idiom “when in Rome” that means when you visit or travel to a location that you should try, adopt, or live with the norms of that society. While you are in a country be it your own or one you visit you must follow the laws of that country. Americans when they travel abroad sometimes have a bad reputation because they do not respect the local cultures and rules. I know I appreciate when someone who is visiting my community goes out of their way to understand and acknowledge how we do things.

Paul in his letter to the church in Rome uses this when in Rome idea to make a life changing point about how God works out salvation and restoration of human kind.

Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? Romans 7:1 ESV

We all know the law it is written in our hearts and God makes it concreate with the Ten Commandments. Do not lie, do not murder, and so on. While you live on this planet you are bound to the law. When in Rome… The law written in your heart, your conscience, condemns when we fail to meet its expectations. Paul writing to a group that knows Jewish law very well then goes into detail about a specific law regarding adultery.

3 Accordingly, [a woman] will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress. Romans 7:3 ESV

Divorce, unfortunately, is common in American culture so much so that many people refuse to even get married because of the pain of the situation. Paul using this as an example shows that when two people are married that they are bound under the law for a life time. Only death of one partner frees the other to remarry. The law is binding as long as we live on this planet. Jesus spoke about this issue when a group questioned him asking if a man had married multiple times over the course of life what wife would he be with in Heaven.

29 But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 31 And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.” Matthew 22:29-32 ESV

The laws that make the standard for life on earth and the rules of life on this earth do not apply after death. Death ends the hold of the law on people both in the positive way, marriage, and in the negative way, adultery. In eternity the law will no longer be our master and no longer will we be slaves to the passion it brings up in our hearts.

5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code. Romans 7:5-6 ESV

We are married to the law of sin and apart from God. The law points out our sinful passions and inflames them even more. And as long as we live, we are bound to the law of sin and unable to be with God. So, God in his grace and love kills us to free us from the law sin. This is the message of the gospel. We die to ourselves. We are buried with Christ. And we are raised to a new life. A new life bound and now remarried to the Spirit.

4 We were buried therefore with [Christ] by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. Romans 6:4 ESV