O death is where is your sting?
Paul tells us that the sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the law (1 Cor. 15:56). Relevant? It is 2:00 PM and Gerry’s funeral is going to begin in 30 minutes. Her body is in the sanctuary, surrounded with flowers.
So what does it mean, the sting of death is sin? Sin brings death. Sin poisons everything and then we die. Sin vandalizes God’s world and our hearts. Death has a huge sting and that sting is sin. Sin infuses death with fear. Because of sin, death becomes the terrifying specter which one day gets the victory over us. The sting of death is sin.
The power of sin is the law. The law condemns us as sinners. But the law not only condemns us, it stirs up sin within us, multiplying our sin and thus our condemnation. The law exposes our sin, pronounces our guilt and our own sick response is to kick against the law and sin all the more (Rom. 7:7-12). The power of sin is the law.
So our situation is bleak. The cancer of sin is exposed by the law, but our own spiritual and moral impotence only multiplies the cancer cells. The law says, “You deserve to die, you will die and when you die I will condemn you, in the meantime I cannot help you.”
Paul’s words of triumph are striking. Where is death’s victory? Where is death’s sting? Christ died for our sins. If our sins are forgiven because of Christ, then the stinger has been plucked out. If Christ has paid the penalty of our sins, then the law has nothing more to say. We are free from the sting of death, we are free from the condemnation of the Law.
Last Wednesday there was no sting in Gerry’s death, the law had no power over her. She left this world without fear of condemnation. Death lost its grip to terrify. She died in faith and Jesus received her into His presence, with the resounding refrain of heaven, “O death where is your victory? O death where is your sting?”
“I like Reformed theology. I believe it’s what the Bible teaches. But I don’t like Reformed culture. I don’t believe it’s what the Bible teaches.
Reformed theology is all about grace deciding to treat people better than they deserve, for the sheer glory of it all. Sometimes Reformed culture doesn’t look like that, feel like that, taste like that. It gives people exactly what they deserve, as judged by the Reformed person. But who exalted him as judge in the first place? Our true Judge stepped down to become our Friend. That theology of grace must translate into the sociology of grace as we treat one another better than anyone deserves, for the sheer glory of it all.
“If our theology does not quicken the conscience and soften the heart, it actually hardens both; if it does not encourage the commitment of faith, it reinforces the detachment of unbelief; if it fails to promote humility, it inevitably feeds pride.”
J. I. Packer, A Quest for Godliness, page 15. “