Thoughts to Ponder

Death: Friend or Foe?

I have been appalled at how we have become a society of death. We celebrate death in music, in movies, in books, on television, even in the law (abortion, euthanasia). I get many e-mails each week from people who are contemplating suicide. About half of the people claim to be Christians.

Although we sometimes look at death as a good thing, such as when a loved one is terminal and suffering and death brings relief, we need to remember why there is death in this world. Death is the result of sin:

Genesis 2:16-17 And the Lord God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; [17] but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die." [NIV]

Romans 5:8-12 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. [9] Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. [10] For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. [11] And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
    [12] Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned- [NASB-U]

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. [NASB-U]

Death is not natural, it is a direct consequence of sin. Since Adam and Eve sinned, death has been the end state of all human beings, with two notable exceptions; Enoch and Elijah. It was never anything to be embraced but rather to be dreaded.

Several months ago, I lost my beloved dog Jessi. We had her for ten years, she was loving, and brought much happiness and joy to our lives. She taught me many things in her short life. She also taught me something about death. She made me realize that while I accept death as inevitable and have experienced deaths of other loved ones, I knew they had a choice in this life and if they made the right choice I will see them again. With Jessi it was different, she died because of sin but it wasn't her sin, she had no choice. She reminded me of what Paul said:

Romans 8:19-22
    The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. [20] For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope [21] that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.
    [22] We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. [NIV]

Jessi taught me to despise death for what it is, a curse on all creation. We should hate death. Pain, suffering and death all go hand in hand. We experience pain and suffering because of disease, but we experience disease because we are all in the process of dying.  So why do so many people seem to willingly embrace it? What happened?

I think a couple of things happened. First Bible knowledge has fallen by the wayside. Secondly Satan has done a good job of making us a death glorifying society. We see death in the news constantly, with graphic pictures, we see death on many television programs with graphic depictions, we listen to music which glorifies death, we demand the right of a woman to kill a human being in her womb and call it a choice. It is no wonder that as a society we view death as just a part of the world. But why do Christians of late embrace death so quickly?

Yes I understand that we know that when we die we will cease to suffer and be with our Lord and Savior, but that isn't the attitude I am talking about. I am talking about death being a friend. You may never have thought of it that way, but we show that is how we feel often by what we say and think.

I often hear people, who are trying to defend the idea that we will continue to sin in this life, say things like we won't be free from sin until we die. As if death is the great sanctifier, not the Holy Spirit. Have we forgotten that death is the enemy? Or is it the enemy? What does God's word tell us?

2 Cor. 5:4 For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. [NASB-U]

We do not want to be unclothed... that means we don't want to be without our body, the very thing that death causes. Have we forgotten that? Or have we forgotten why Jesus died and rose again?

Hebrews 2:14-15 Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, [15] and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. [NASB-U]

Yes Jesus died to save us from our sins, but also as part of that to save us from death and the power of death, and he who has the power of death over us. With that in mind is death our friend or our foe? If it were our friend would God say things like this?

Isaiah 25:8-9
            He will swallow up death for all time,
            And the Lord God will wipe tears away from all faces,
            And He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth;
            For the Lord has spoken.
            [9] And it will be said in that day,
            "Behold, this is our God for whom we have waited that He might save us.
            This is the Lord for whom we have waited;
            Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation." [NASB-U]

He (Jesus) will swallow up death for all time! He is not getting rid of the one thing that will sanctify us, or that is our friend, He is defeating our last enemy! When John saw his vision of the resurrected Christ he was told this:

Rev. 1:17-18 When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, "Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, [18] and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades. [NASB-U]

Notice that Jesus links death and Hades together. This is not our friend; it is not something to be longed for or something that we should in any way hasten. Yet that is what many people do. They believe the lies of Satan who tells them that death will bring peace, rest and relief from the pain and suffering in this life. They forget that Satan is the father of lies. When he speaks lies he is speaking his native language!

Death outside the will of God is rebellion and will be punished. It won't bring relief, peace or rest. Now there are two kinds of death, the physical death of the body and the spiritual death of the spirit. Jesus defeated both, by His death as payment for our sins and by His resurrection. We will still die physically until His return, but we know that we will again have a physical body.

Job 19:25-27
    I know that my Redeemer lives,
        and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.
    [26] And after my skin has been destroyed,
        yet in my flesh I will see God;
    [27] I myself will see him
        with my own eyes--I, and not another.
        How my heart yearns within me!
  [NIV]

Do you want rest for your soul? Then listen to what Jesus says:

Matthew 11:28-30 "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. [29] "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. [30] "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." [NASB-U]

We as Christians should not fear death, but we should not welcome it either. It is not the final sanctifier of our soul, it is not our friend that will bring us rest and peace. If we are not sanctified in this life then we have a problem. If we do not have peace and rest for our souls here and now, then again we have a problem. I am not saying that we never tire of this life, we do, this is not our home, but instead of welcoming death as a way out, we should be looking with longing at the skies for the return of our Lord and Savior.

E-Mail Ralph

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March 2011