“Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me. Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.” 2 Timothy 1:8-10,12-14
“The last enemy to be destroyed is death. ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ ‘O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:26,54-57
At this holy time of year, we are somber remembering the death of our Savior. I drive by a church with a shrouded cross, or see a crown of thorns, and am quieted, sobered, contemplating the suffering, the agony of body and spirit, the weight of sin my Redeemer bore, for me. But His death was not final. His time in the sealed grave assured all He was lifeless, and set the scene for Him to be raised to life and do away with death forever for those He came to save. His crucifixion and most glorious resurrection mysteriously and absolutely abolished death for those who believe. He is alive, and His victory is true!
This side of Calvary, I am left with a testimony and a holy calling, as was Paul. How does my life, how do my words, shine light on the death of death? What evidence do I bear of spiritual victory? I may speak of this beautiful truth, telling how Jesus’s death swallowed the ugliness and horror of sin’s consequences, how His resurrection assured victory over sin and life eternal for those who appropriate its work, but I can also exemplify this truth in how I behave. Jesus lives in me, and His presence gives power and victory in my choices to say no to sin, to speak blessing instead of cursing, encouragement instead of criticism, gratitude instead of complaining. He strengthens me to be occupied with meaningful, productive work that bears lasting fruit, that enriches others, that has a significant impact on my community and culture. His is the victory over impatience, greed, rudeness, pride. It is He Who sets my heart’s agenda to be God-directed and others-focused over self-rewarding.
Blessed Savior, You have put death to death. Hallelujah! May I daily put to death, in Your resurrection power, all that is opposite of You, and live unashamed, unstung by sin, manifesting Your grace and victory. (Romans 1:16; Colossians 3:5-10)