To Free Us From the Fear of Death
“Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery” (Hebrews 2:14-15).
Down deep in the human heart there is a fear of death that Satan uses to keep us enslaved. Don’t miss the point. Satan has no power to kill you or anyone else. He can’t do anything without God’s permission. But he plays upon our fear of death to keep us in the chains of sin. That’s why the Bible says the sting of death is sin (1 Corinthians 15:56). When the unsaved die, they die with their sins still upon them, like a heavy burden, a vast weight bearing them down to hell. They die miserable, angry, frustrated, and fearful because they don’t know what to do with their sins.
What a difference it makes to die having your sins forgiven. How many times have I heard Christians say when a loved one dies, “What do people do who don’t know the Lord?” Death is hard enough to face if you are a Christian, but it is intolerable without the Lord. And yet every day countless thousands march into eternity with the leaden weight of sin hanging around their necks.
A friend who watched a loved one die said it succinctly in just two words: “Death stinks.” Yes, it does, which is why the Bible says death is the last enemy that shall be destroyed (1 Corinthians 15:26). Some people claim that death is a “natural” part of life. This is certainly true in the sense that death comes to all of us due to this fallen world. Where sin exists, death is indeed “natural.” But that is only part of the biblical picture. Death reigns because of Adam’s sin (Romans 5:12-14). Now through Jesus Christ we have his infallible Word that “everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die” (John 11:26). Like most pastors I have quoted those verses often during funeral services. I like to do it when the dead person is in the casket right in front of me. After all, that’s when the full impact of Jesus’ words really hits home. Do we believe Jesus or not? John Stott comments that for the Christian, death has become a “trivial episode,” a minor inconvenience and nothing more. If we know Jesus, death is like closing our eyes and one moment later opening them in heaven.
Unbelievers don’t have that privilege nor do they understand our confidence as we enter death’s door. For them death is the end—or so they think. For us it is the next step in our eternal life with God.
Lord Jesus, you are the Lord of Life! Death has no power over you. Because you live, we too shall live. Set us free from fear so that we can live boldly and love freely because nothing can ever separate us from you. Amen.