June 26, 2020
When Death Is Defeated
By Skip Heitzig
Whether you see death as an enemy or a friend, the fact of the matter is that we're all going to croak. Yet there's an ultimate victory we have to look forward to: victory over death itself through resurrection.
Looking at 1 Corinthians 15, the most comprehensive chapter in the Bible about the resurrection, I want to give you four factors that point to this final, future victory: 1. The future requires our victory.
"Flesh and blood," Paul wrote, "cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption" (v. 50). Our bodies are subject to disease, death, and decomposition, yet the future kingdom is not subject to any of these. So how can these bodies ever be suited for that place? Resurrection.
At some point in the future when Jesus returns, there will be a transformation of both dead and living believers by resurrection and rapture, respectively: "We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality" (vv. 51-53; see also 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). Our perishable bodies will take on an imperishable form, because the new environment we're going to demands it.
2. The Scriptures predict our victory. "So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality"—that is, when both living and dead believers experience this transformation—"then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: 'Death is swallowed up in victory.' 'O death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?'" (vv. 54-55). Paul was announcing what the prophets predicted: that death itself is going to die (see Isaiah 25:8; Hosea 13:14). God is going to destroy it. That means death is powerless and the grave holds no grief.
3. Our battles anticipate our victory. "The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (vv. 56-57). We all experience a lifelong battle with our old nature, the flesh (see Galatians 5:17). But the fact that we struggle anticipates the victory. Why? Because whenever there's a fight, someone has to win—and we're on the winning team, because Jesus has promised eternal life to those who trust in Him.
4. Our life is motivated by victory. "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord" (v. 58). Paul was saying that because the resurrection is true, stick to your post. Don't deviate from the gospel. Don't stop reading your Bible. Don't stop going to church. Don't stop praying. Don't stop fighting temptation. Stand your ground.
Yes, barring the rapture of the church, death is coming. But because death emptied all its venom on Jesus, it's now robbed of its terror (see Philippians 1:21). We don't need to fear it, because Jesus went into the grave dead and walked out of it alive—which means that we will one day, too.