|Volume 22 Number 9 September 2020||
The apostle Paul asked, “O death, where is thy sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55; Hosea 13:4). What was he saying?
When the Lord comes again, notice will be given, (“the trumpet shall sound”), the dead shall be raised and the living will be changed (1 Corinthians 15:51-54). The dead in Christ shall rise first and the righteous living “shall together with them… meet the Lord in the air… “ (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17). This fleshly, mortal nature must be put off in order that we might put on incorruption and immortality for eternal life (1 Corinthians 15:53).
Paul was trying to help the believer realize death no longer has a sting. Death no more has the victory. Death has no sting for the faithful believer. “Death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:54). Isaiah foretold this, and the ultimate fulfillment of his prophecy will come at the end of time (Isaiah 25:8). Since Jesus was raised from the dead and we will be raised, death has been conquered (1 Corinthians 15). This victory over sin and death is through and by the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:57).
Sin is the “sting” of death (1 Corinthians 15:56), but sin has no power over the faithful in Christ. Being a faithful Christian takes away the sting of death. So, Paul asked, “O death, where is thy sting?” knowing that through Christ and His triumphant resurrection, death would have no sting! O death, where is your power now? Through Jesus, we can be free from sin. We win! In Christ, we can be victorious over sin and Satan. In Christ, there is no sting!
The primary point Paul was making in 1 Corinthians fifteen is that Christ was raised from the dead. He was victorious over death, Satan and sin. We, too, will be raised (1 Corinthians 15:23). We, too, can be victorious. We do not have to worry about dying. If any think of dying as having a sting, they should review once again the blessed reward promised for the righteous when they die (Luke 16:22-25; 1 Thessalonians 4:17; 1 Peter 1:3-5; etc.). While death is ‘‘unfamiliar territory,” Christians must keep in mind it is simply a transition into the eternal life. Have faith in God’s power to save. “…Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:54b-55).
Stand for God
How often does temptation cause you to hide your faith? Do you have friends or relatives who do not appreciate your beliefs? When asked about weekend plans, do you mention every detail except Sunday’s sermon? Satan uses family, friends and other relationships to tempt God’s people concerning their faith. Every time an individual succumbs to this temptation, he or she draws further from Christ. Those who hold on to the confession of faith draw closer to Him.
The Old Testament gives several examples of God’s people holding on to their faith during trials. The Book of Daniel details a situation with Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego (Daniel 3). Their example demonstrates the power of confession and standing by one’s faith in God.
King Nebuchadnezzar erected a giant statue of himself in Babylon. He gathered many of the government officials together. He declared that at the sound of all sorts of musical instruments the officials would bow down to worship the idol. Any individual who failed to worship the idol would be thrown into a fiery furnace. The music sounded and all of the people except Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego fell down to worship the idol. The king received news concerning their refusal to worship the image. He called them to himself. He reiterated his desire and expectation for idol worship. They withstood him and said, “If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up” (Daniel 3:17-18).
Their response infuriated the king. He commanded the furnace to be heated seven time hotter than normal. He had mighty men throw them into the furnace. The king’s mighty men died, but the fire did not harm Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego. King Nebuchadnezzar looked into the fire to see four individuals walking in it. He supposed the fourth individual to be the “Son of God” (Daniel 3:25). King Nebuchadnezzar called for the three men to exit the fire. There was no evidence the fire hurt them at all. He then declared that any individual found who spoke anything amiss concerning their God would be severely punished.
Let us analyze the situation. The Hebrew men were in a land far away from their home. A notoriously harsh king tempted their faith. They did not participate in the commanded idol worship. The Lord stood with them during their punishment. The king was impacted positively by their faith, which also impacted the society as a result.
There are times when our confession of faith is tested. We should always be truthful about our belief in God. Jesus connects our confession of faith in Him to our salvation (Matthew 10:32-33). Take courage and withstand the temptation to deny our Lord. May we consider our faithfulness in the light of our confession.