Reversing the Sentence of Death

As I write, I am just few days out of my second spinal injection to address some pain that I have been experiencing in my back due to a herniated disc. It has brought some relief while I am still experiencing episodes of some significant discomfort. It is snowing lightly here in Fort Collins and we have started to decorate for the upcoming Christmas season. Time moves along as we travel this journey of life.

BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY…. “Therefore everyone was condemned through one failure, and everyone received God’s life-giving approval through one verdict. Clearly, through one person’s disobedience humanity became sinful, and through one person’s obedience humanity will receive God’s approval.” Romans 5:18,19 GW

Tomorrow is my 65th birthday. Somewhat of a marker of growing older in our American culture. Although with people living longer it has been said that, “50 (or is it 60?) is the new 40.” I find as I grow older and in light of my health crisis five years ago, my sense of mortality is heightened.

I believe had my life progressed as I was living it, I would have “blown through” this marker without much notice. (Other than the requirement to sign up for Medicare, in order to avoid a penalty of course.)

I have also been reading the book, Being Mortal. This is a fascinating book about medicine, life and mortality written by a doctor/surgeon. His description of aging process is quite depressing to be honest. But at the heart is something that we can observe in times of illness as well as in life. People do what they can to ignore or delay the inevitable. Death. Death in this life is an enemy.

At the same time we see adds and initiatives aimed at living longer, healthier lives. While much of this can be positive some of it seems to border on the paranoid. I believe the reason is that we were created for life. That was God’s intent for the first humans in God’s created order. However, Adam and Eve messed up. Not only for themselves but for all mankind.

Paul offers this explanation, “Sin came into the world through one person [Adam], and death came through sin.” (Romans 5:12 GW) Sin is the cancer that brings death to every person. To reverse the death sentence one must find a remedy for the cause of death – sin. Paul declares, “All have sinned…” (Romans 3:23) This is simply a New Testament affirmation of the Old Testament declarations,  “…there is none who does good, not even one.” (Psalm 14:3) “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way…” (Isaiah 53:6)

But through Christ (whom Paul refers to as the “second Adam”) true life, eternal life is available to all. Not eternal life in this natural world, but eternal life in the world to come and that which is unseen. To the Corinthians Paul says, “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive….“The first man Adam became a living being” ; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit” (1 Corinthians 15:22,45)

In the contrast between Adam and Christ, we see Paul stating that Christ’s gift overcomes Adam faults. There is no comparison between God’s gift and Adam’s failure…the gift given through the kindness of one person, Jesus Christ, have been showered on humanity.”  (Romans 5:15, GW)

Then we see that Christ’s gift of grace overcomes our sin and the penalty of death. “There is also no comparison between God’s gift and the one who sinned.[it is] certain that those who receive God’s overflowing kindness and the gift of his approval will rule in life because of one person, Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:17 GW)

Christ and His grace which results in the forgiveness of sin overcomes sinful actions and a sinful nature. Christ’s gift has no comparison and overcomes death and promises life forevermore.

We can’t stop the aging process. We can’t stop the impacts of infirmity and disease, but we can be victorious over death.

“As sin ruled by bringing death, God’s kindness would rule by bringing us his approval. This results in our living forever because of Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5:21 GW)

That is why Paul pronounces this victorious declaration,

“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.” (1 Corinthians 15:55-57)

What then should be our perspective? What then should be our resolve?

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)