1 Corinthians 15:55-58
O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?…
I. THE NATURE AND EXTENT OF THE DUTIES INCULCATED.
1. A steadfast adherence to the faith of the gospel, in opposition to prevailing error. "Be steadfast." See that your faith do not stand in the wisdom of men, but by the power of God. Light shines around; it beams with steady lustre from the oracles of truth; and will you, with the means of having your feet guided in the ways of peace, prefer the glimmerings of human reason, allow yourselves to be blinded by the influence of error, and walk in that road of sin which leads directly to the chambers of hell?
2. Unshaken firmness in maintaining the profession of the gospel, in opposition to every temptation and danger. Be "unmovable," or unmoved. Is there nothing dangerous in the corruption of our own hearts — in those remaining roots of sin which so often spring up unsuspected, and overspread our minds with the noxious weeds of carnal affection, unhallowed passion, licentious desires, and even sinful resolutions? These are enemies too near us to be viewed with indifference; and to submit to their influence is virtually to renounce the profession which we ought habitually to maintain. Is there nothing dangerous in those allurements of the world which are scattered around us? Is there nothing dangerous in those unseen yet real temptations with which the enemy of God and of man assails us? These are temptations that require caution as well as fortitude — watchfulness and faith and prayer. In opposition to these and similar dangers, we are exhorted to be steadfast and unmoved. And why shrink from these conflicts of patience and faith? — why relinquish the hopes with which our Divine Master encourages us to perseverance?
3. We are exhorted to be habitually and increasingly employed in the service of Christ — "always abounding in the work of the Lord." the duties of the Christian life are emphatically styled a work and a labour. Its difficulties do not arise wholly from external temptations, nor is the service which it requires confined to the resistance of sin. There are graces and virtues which must be brought into actual and vigorous exercise, and duties which every man in his own station must labour diligently and faithfully to perform. Shall we not feel every labour sweetened, every pain alleviated, to believe that we are thus expressing our gratitude to Him who loved us and gave Himself for us — our obedience to Him who ransomed us from destruction by His own precious blood? Where is there a relation in which we stand to God or to our fellow-men, in discharging the duties of which He did not stand forth the pattern of perfection to the universe and to us? What energy must it impart to the Christian, farther, to be persuaded that strength shall be furnished him for this service! Yes, it is a labour in the Lord. He who has been perfected through sufferings — He who possesses all the treasures of knowledge, and wisdom, and grace, is the strength of His disciples. He is their sun and their shield, their light and their life. Finally, on this part of the subject we are exhorted to abound always in the work of the Lord. How little have we done for the glory of God and the advancement of our own holiness, in comparison of what we might and should have done! Not only how imperfect, but how polluted often are our services. Let us arise, then, and be found retrieving what we have lost; doing what we ought already to have done; more habitually abounding in the work of our Lord. Let us set no limit to our exertions; let us not measure our attainments by those of others, far less let us sit down in sloth and carelessness.
II. THE POWERFUL INCITEMENT BY WHICH THE PRACTICE OF THESE DUTIES IS ENFORCED. "Your labour shall not be in vain in the Lord." Even the hope of success is a strong incitement to exertion; what influence, then, must not the certainty of attaining our object have? This is possessed by all who abound in the work of the Lord.
1. Even in this world they reap the fruit of their labours. The more enlarged views of Divine truth which they gradually acquire — the more habitual conformity to the image, and submission to the will, of their Lord which they attain — the progressive dethronement of the power of sin, which is the result of this belief of the truth and sanctification of the Spirit — and that more steady zeal for the interests of pure and undefiled religion in themselves and in the world to which they are excited — are the sources of a happiness pure as the fountain from which it springs, and motives to increased alacrity in the work of the Lord.
2. The resurrection day is appointed as the period when the complete triumph of the Christian shall commence. Are you, then, the humble yet praying and faithful followers of Jesus? Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might, giving glory to God; and through Him your admission into heaven is sure! Why should you be sorrowful? why languid? why unbelieving? why unsteady in your course? Your labours may be severe, your difficulties numerous, your duties painful, your afflictions heavy; but they shall not be in vain, if endured in the Lord.
(D. Dickson, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?