1 Corinthians 15:55-58
O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?…
I. THE VICTORY. Victory supposes warfare, and warfare enemies. Let us mention a few of these.
1. Sin. This is the cause of all the rest, but the name of Jesus was given to the Saviour because He was to save His people from their sins. His people consider sin as their chief enemy, and they rejoice that their Saviour gave Himself for them "to redeem them from all iniquity," etc. Let us examine this victory. Sin, even now, is to be found in a believer; but though sin lives in him, he does not live in sin, and though sin be not destroyed in him, it is dethroned in him. There is as much difference between sin found in a Christian, and sin found in a natural man, as there is between poison found in a serpent, and found in a man. Poison is found in a serpent, but it does him no injury — Why? Because it is natural to him, it is a part of his system; but poison in a man makes him sick, it is no part of his nature.
2. The world. Our Saviour said to His disciples, "Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." But what is this victory? It is not fleeing from the world — fleeing is not fighting — but it is your abiding in the calling in which you are placed by God; discharging with diligence and zeal the duties pertaining to it; resisting the temptations belonging to it; and using all the opportunities it affords to do good. The man who thus lives overcomes the world. "Who is he that overcometh the world?" etc.
3. Satan. "I will put enmity between thee and the woman," etc. "For this purpose, therefore, was the Son of God manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil." But you say, Did He not fall in the struggle? True, but it was in falling that He conquered. "He spoiled principalities and powers," etc. "And because the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same," etc.
4. Death and the grave. He certainly conquers death —
(1) Who is not and cannot be injured by it, and to whom it is therefore expressly harmless. This is the case with every Christian. Death stung once, and a dreadful sting it was; it stung our Surety, who took our place for us; but it left its sting in Him, so that there is none for the Christian.
(2) Who will be improved by it. The Christian rises with a better body than he laid down.
(3) Who will rise above the apprehension of it (2 Corinthians 5:1).
II. THE ACQUISITION. In other cases winning a victory is gaining a victory, but here —
1. It is given. It is true we gain it; but He gives it. It is true we fight; but it is He causes us to triumph. He not only furnishes the crown, but He also gives us the capacity by which we acquire it.
2. It is dispensed through the mediation of the Lord Jesus. From the beginning to the end of our salvation, the propriety, expediency, necessity of Jesus as a mediator is not for one moment left out. "He is all in all."
3. It is gradually exemplified and accomplished. It is not said that He will give, though this is true, for it is already promised; nor that He has given us the victory, though this is true, for that is already promised; but He giveth us the victory; and this is true because it is gradually confirmed and experienced.
III. THE GRATITUDE. If you feel gratitude to your fellow-creatures for their favours, surely you will not forget the boon of your salvation. There is nothing perhaps so vile as ingratitude. But how are we to express our thanksgivings? Gratitude consists in the return of a benefit received, and though we cannot make an adequate return, yet we may make a suitable return. "Thanksgiving," says Philip Henry, "is good, but thanksliving is much better." The best way in which a scholar can testify the honour of his tutor is by his proficiency. And our Saviour says, "Herein is My Father glorified that ye bear much fruit." As a stimulus to gratitude.
1. Dwell upon the blessings themselves.
2. Get an increasing sense of your own unworthiness.
3. Get an assurance of your own interest in the blessedness of the Lord.
Parallel VersesKJV: O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?