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. 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 labour in the Lord is not in vain.
We are used to the idea that death will always win in the end. It is everybody’s observation, but there is also a hunger for eternity. The old hymn by Rev Henry F. Lyte says, “Change and decay in all around I see – O Thou who changest not, abide with me.” He knew sadness, disappointment and sickness but also knew the living Jesus. Christ’s resurrection is the best attested fact of ancient history, and overwhelmingly proves that death is not the end.
Death is the end point of a godless cascade. Breaking God’s law releases the sting of sin like a swarm of hornets. Eventually, death overtakes us. But Paul asks, when death meets resurrection, where is its victory? The curse of death over humanity and creation was broken by Christ’s rising from death (Galatians 3:13). And sin, which has a fatal poison, has been forgiven. One day that will be demonstrated when all of Christ’s church arises with new bodies suitable for a sinless and deathless eternity.
That is the Christian’s hope (confident expectation, not wishful thinking). It also has implications. Because the Lord will win in the end, and we will reign with Him, we should not let anything stop us being confident in the Lord now. We must not let yesterday’s sin or our bodily weakness keep us in the shadows. If we have fallen, we must stand up. If we have been swept downstream on a tide of sin, we must repent and stand firm in Him.
Our obligation to work for the Lord does not come from the need to earn salvation; we cannot ever do that (Ephesians 2:8-9). It comes from the certainty of our own resurrection and the reward we will receive. C T Studd, the British 19thC cricketer and missionary pioneer wrote, “Only one life, ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.” He understood the word ‘fully’ in these verses: ‘always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord’ – that means all the time, with all you have and holding nothing back. Because we will be raised, even death is no threat to stop our work for the Lord. Don’t hold back from serving Him because He has withheld nothing from you (Romans 8:32).
Lord God of eternity. Thank You for the resurrection of Jesus which assures believers that death is not the end. Forgive me for holding back from working with You because of my weakness or failings. Please help me to see that there is no reason why I should not give myself fully to the work of the Lord. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.