1 Corinthians 15:26
The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
I. DEATH AN ENEMY.
1. It was so born. Death is the child of our direst foe, for "sin when it is finished bringeth forth death." "Sin entered into the world and death by sin."
2. It does an enemy's work. It tears in pieces that comely handiwork of God, the fabric of the human body. This Vandal spares no work of life, however full of wisdom, or beauty, for it looseth the silver cord and breaketh the golden bowl. Whither can we go to find no sepulchres? The tear of the bereaved, the wail of the widow, and the moan of the orphan — these have been death's war music, and he has found therein a song of victory. War is nothing better than death holding carnival, and devouring his prey a little more in haste than is his common wont. Death has done the work of an enemy —
(1) To those of us who have as yet escaped his arrows. Those who have lately stood around a new-made grave and buried half their hearts can tell you what an enemy death is. What head of a family among us has not had to say to him, "Me thou hast bereaved again and again!" Especially is death an enemy to the living when he invades God's house. The most useful ministers and most earnest workers are taken away.
(2) To those who die. All that a man hath will he give for his life, yet death cannot be bribed. When death cometh even to the good man he is attended by such terrible heralds and grim outriders as do greatly scare us. And what comes he to do to our bodies? He comes to take the light from the eyes, the hearing from the ears, the speech from the tongue, the activity from the hand, and the thought from the brain.
3. It is a subtle enemy, lurking everywhere, even in the most harmless things.
4. It is an enemy whom none of us will be able to avoid, take what by-paths we may, nor can we escape from him when our hour is come.
5. Sudden, too, full often, are its assaults.
II. AN ENEMY TO BE DESTROYED.
1. Christ has already subdued death.
(1) By having delivered His people from spiritual death. "And you hath He quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins."(2) By restoring certain individuals to life.
(3) By removing from it its penal character through His death on the Cross. Why die the saints then? Because their bodies must be changed ere they can enter heaven. "Flesh and blood" as they are "cannot inherit the kingdom of God."(4) By His resurrection. As surely as Christ rose so did He guarantee as an absolute certainty the resurrection of all His saints.
(5) By the work of His Spirit in the saints, who enables them to face the last enemy without alarm.
2. But death in the sense meant by the text is not destroyed yet. He is to be destroyed, and how will that be?
(1) At the coming of Christ, those who are alive and remain shall not see death. But in the case of the sleeping ones, death shall be destroyed, for they shall rise from the tomb. The resurrection is the destruction of death.
(2) Those who rise will not be one whit the worse for having died. There will be no trace upon them of the feebleness of old age, none of the marks of long and wearying sickness.
(3) There shall be no more death. "Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more, death hath no more dominion over Him"; and so also the quickened ones, His own redeemed, they too shall die no more. "Because I live, ye shall live also."
III. DEATH IS TO BE DESTROYED LAST.
1. Because he came in last he must go out last. First came the devil, then sin, then death. Death is not the worst of enemies. It were better to die a thousand times than to sin.
2. Death is the last enemy to each individual Christian; therefore leave him to be the last. You do not want dying grace till dying moments. Ask for living grace, and glorify Christ thereby, and then you shall have dying grace when dying time comes.
3. Why is death left to the last? Because Christ can make much use of him.
(1) There are, perhaps, no sermons like the deaths which have happened in our households.
(2) If there had been no death the saints would not have had the opportunity to exhibit the highest ardour of their love. Where has love to Christ triumphed most? Why, in the death of the martyrs at the stake and on the rack. So is it in their measure with saints who die from ordinary deaths; they would have had no such test for faith and work for patience as they now have if there had been no death.
(3) Without death we should not be so conformed to Christ as we shall be if we fall asleep in Him.
(4) Death brings the saints home. He does but come to them and whisper his message, and in a moment they are supremely blessed.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.