Lk. 5:37-39 π Jn. 1:3 π Jn. 8:44 π Jn. 10:10 π Rom. 5:12 π 1 Cor. 15:26 π 2 Cor. 3:17 π Gal. 5:22-23 π Col. 1:16 π Heb. 2:8 π Heb. 2:14-15 π 1 Jn. 3:8 π 1 Jn. 3:14 π Rev. 12:11 π Rev. 12:12 π Rev. 19:7
"The last enemy that will be destroyed," Paul wrote, "is death." ( 1 Cor. 15:26; top )
"I have come," Jesus said, "that they may have life, and that they may it more abundantly." ( Jn. 10:10; top )
"For this purpose," John wrote, "the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil." ( 1 Jn. 3:8; top )
"[Christ] Himself likewise shared in the same [human, flesh and blood existence], that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage." ( Heb. 2:14-15; top )
When one sets out to write a short treatment of a subject like this, one is confronted not only with the immensity of the subject but also the elusiveness of accurately and specifically defining and describing the terms. What is life? What is death? These two short questions encompass a vast array of avenues and vistas which could each stand alone and be the subject of study in their own right. But from the above Scriptures let us note some key elements:
- Death will be destroyed.
- Jesus is the bringer of life - abundant life.
- Death, or more exactly, the fear of death, is a work of the devil. While he experienced the loss of the power of death at the cross of Christ, we do not yet see all things, like death, brought fully under subjection. (see Heb. 2:8; top )
- Fear of death subjects one to bondage but where the Spirit is Lord, there is liberty. ( 2 Cor. 3:17; top )
As we grapple with these ideas difficult to even process through the human intellect (let alone truly and fully understand them), let us at least recognize that life and death can serve as indicators of which kingdom we are participating in. If we are walking in abundant life - characterized by the deep-seated elements of God's nature (see Gal. 5:22-23 ) - we have the life of God within us and we are participants in His kingdom. But if we are really living our lives in death - characterized by the absence of the key elements of God's nature (of which selfless love is primary - see 1 Jn. 3:14; top ) - then we are under the power of the devil and we are serving his kingdom. This does not mean that the citizens of Christ's kingdom of light never pass through the valley of the shadow of death (as when one's own mortality closes in or a close, beloved friend or family member dies and any remaining vestiges of the fear of death must be confronted and grappled with) - indeed all must pass through this valley sooner or later, however frequently or infrequently as the Lord deems necessary for death, the power of death and the fear of death to be overcome in the individual in question. But the overall fruit of our existence - whether the life of Christ or the death that belongs to the devil - is a sure indicator of where we are at.
It is easy to simultaneously see, misunderstand and oversimplify this contrast - even in obvious examples. The youth enamored with death and rebellion participates in drugs and other self-destructive, harmful behaviors. But there is a flip side to that as well. One reason this youth is rebellious is because the religion he saw portrayed as "the way to life" lacked any real substance that one could call life. That is, the institutionalized "church" which purported to be the way of following Christ, the Master of life, was as much a vehicle for the ways of death as was the way of rebellion. At least in rebellion, the youth could find freedom of expression (liberty) and excitement ("life") and could seek to become that which suited his nature and desires (satisfaction and fulfillment). Each of these things (though these fleshly counterfeits are warped and distorted in this youth's life) are part of the abundant life which Christ would bring to the youth - the very life which also gets squelched out by the process of institutionalizing, whether that be what men most often call "church," government, or any civic, community group. When tradition and rules take the place of life, death has set in and, for the people who claim to follow Christ, the wineskin has hardened and they are no longer a fit vessel for the life-giving, ever-new work of the Holy Spirit. (see Lk. 5:37-39; top )
Satan's kingdom operates on the principles and mechanisms of death - fear, corruption, power, deceit, manipulation, hatred, torment, persecution, murder, etc. - and is completely incapable of sustaining life. On the other hand, Christ, because He participated in creating all things ( Jn. 1:3 , Col. 1:16 ), is not only able to sustain life, He is also able to entirely remove the death that man allowed to enter his existence ( Rom. 5:12; top ) and completely unravel every last vestige of the kingdom which Satan has erected on the pillars of the power of death.
When Christ does the final preparations and purifications of His people (a process which the bride actively participates in - Rev. 19:7 ), we will see the conflict between life and death intensify. Satan will use all the tools of death to express his fury at having only a short time left ( Rev. 12:12 ) - his time in possession of earth's kingdoms primarily being his opportunity to demonstrate his total inability to beneficially control or direct the life which God created. But even as Satan and all those who follow and serve him utilize these tools, the Master of resurrected life will raise up His people in purity, righteousness and power. "And [the end-time saints] overcame [the devil] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death." ( Rev. 12:11; top ) Satan, the wielder of death, still serves the over-arching purposes of God - willing or otherwise!
Because nations like the U.S. were founded (at least in part) on the principles of God's abundant life, Satan has worked long and hard to bring about the corruption and overthrow of the godly elements at work in our government, culture and society. The devil has been so successful in getting people to drift away from the Person of Christ (even as they cling to vestiges of His ways and His principles) that he has been able to convince men that institutionalized "Christianity" (churchianity) and Christ's abundant life are one and the same thing. Bible scholars tout the "four basic institutions" (family, human government, Israel and "church") but fail to recognize that neither the word nor the concept of "institutionalizing" anything is to be found anywhere in the Scriptures. There is nothing sacred or binding in any methodology concocted by men - no matter how popular it is nor how many years (even centuries) stand behind the practice. That which produces death is of the kingdom of the devil - that which overcomes death through the power of Christ is of His kingdom of light. Any blurring of the lines of that distinction is the work of the devil, the father of all lies. ( Jn. 8:44; top )
Let he who has ears hear.
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