1 Corinthians 15:21-22
For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.…
1. At the root of all higher life in man is a protest against his living a lower life. This protest we call conscience. Without it, men would be devils at birth. Within you all is this root of holiness. If you do evil, it condemns; if you do well, it applauds. Christ means the Anointed, the Consecrated, the Kingly One. Whatever, therefore, is kingly and consecrated in you, He represents. He is, as it were, your best self. Your higher life, therefore, is Divine. So far as you live in it you live in God. And out of this thought comes great hope for many. For there be many, I feel, that live in God and know it not.
2. Now the glory of the whole world is the glory of the life that is in it. A landscape in which there is no green, growthful thing, a level stretch of sea without ripple or current, a house in which no life stirs, a human face, set, colourless, rigid in all its lines — there is no glory in all these. Wherever you look, your eyes instinctively search for life. If you find it not, your soul instinctively draws back within itself. Death is universal horror. Life demands life. It lives on companionships. These are to it what sunshine and moisture are to plants. Only in this connection do we apprehend that fine eulogy of Christ, "In Him was life, and the life was the light of men."
3. Now all life is not the same life. There is the life of beast, of bird, of man. Beyond we come to the life of angels, of spirits; and over all we find the Great Spirit, in whom all life is, and out of whom all life comes. God. In man you find the indwelling life graded as to quality and use. There is body-life, mind-life and soul-life. And the qualities and expressions of the last are finer than the qualities and expressions of the others. Now the life which we have in Christ is the life of the finest qualities in us. It is the life contained in those faculties and powers which are not only immortal, but which are adapted in their nature for the finest uses.
4. Life which is simply continued existence, is a low order of life. There is a life, the result of which is a curse. A bird which should lose its bird instincts and become swinish, would offer to our gaze a spectacle abhorrent to that sense in us which interprets the eternal fitness of things. And so when the man forgets that he is a spirit, when he deserts heaven and makes his home in the earth, offers a spectacle abhorrent to every instinct of justice and propriety.
5. Now, there is no denying that the earthly tendency is in us all. Neither is there any denying that the heavenly impulse is in all who allow it to dwell in them. Man is not an empty vase. He is filled, inwardly, with soul-life capacities. And in these capacities are seed-like qualities which need only Divine quickening to germinate to holiness. The best recognition of this native nobility in man is seen in the incarnation. I thus swing myself up to God's standpoint and looking down upon the reckless of earth, exclaim: "What a pity that such a creation should misdemean himself in that style!" When I see one engaged in brave battle with some appetite, breasting up against some passion, or striving against unfortunate circumstances to better himself, I say "The original impulse to virtue has not wholly left the race yet." My angels are not in the sky, but in the bosoms of men and women striving to be better. God is born in some men, and He groweth with their growth. The patience, the courage, the abhorrence of evil, the shrinking from coarseness, the innate love of pure things which are in the Divine nature, are in them.
6. Now this Divine element in human nature, this something in man which is finer than man, had perfect expression in Jesus. It was the moral perfection of the human being, Jesus, that made Him worthy to be called Christ. The title was descriptive of the man.
7. Pattern your lives after the model presented for your guidance and your inspiration in the character of this matchless being. In Him, standing here, behold the union of both worlds; the humanity of earth inspired with the divinity of the skies. Do you wonder that such a being should say, "The kingdom of God is within you"? Nay! For He felt that the foundations of that kingdom were laid in the capacities of His own bosom. As David said touching the Father, so we can say touching our Elder Brother, "I shall be content when I awake in Thy likeness." Let the dead within you hear the voice to-day which calls it from its grave, and let it come forth and stand ready for action in the front rank of your purposes and. endeavours. "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God." Every man must make his own world, as Jesus made His. And all who live upon the earth who would be like Him, must live above it.
8. This must be observed also, that whoever comes into that way of living which Christ had, comes into it first by the way of positive resolution. And this resolution is his own. It is conduct which makes character. And you can make your conduct whatever you please. Now he who continues in good conduct, continues in Christ (John 15:4, 6). The man who ceases to practise the actual virtues that Christ practised, is a withered man, morally.
(W. H. H. Murray.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.