1 Corinthians 15:26
The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
Consider death as —
I. AN ENEMY.
1. It is always repugnant to the nature of living creatures to die. God has made self-preservation one of the first laws of our nature. We are bound to prize life.
2. It entered into the world through our worst enemy — viz., sin. It came not in accordance to the course of nature, but according to the course of evil. Physiologists have said that they do not detect any particular reason why man should die at fourscore years. The same wheels which have gone on for forty years might have continued their revolutions even for centuries, so far as their own self-renewing power is concerned.
3. It embitters existence.
4. It has made fearful breaches in our daily comforts. The widow has lost her stay; the children have been left desolate. O death! thou art the cruel enemy of our hearths and homes.
5. It has taken away from us One who is dearer to us than all others. On yonder Cross behold death's most dreadful work. Could it not spare Him? Were there not enough of us?
6. It bears us away from all our prized possessions. "These things," said one, as he walked through his grand estate, "make it hard to die." When the rich man has made his fortune he wins six foot of earth and nothing more, and what less hath he who died a pauper?
7. It carries us away from choice society.
8. It breaks up all our enjoyments and employments and successes.
9. It is accompanied with many pains, infirmities, and since the decay and utter dissolution of the body is in itself a most terrible thing, we are alarmed at the prospect of it. He is an enemy, nay the enemy, the very worst enemy that our fears could conjure up, for we could fight with Satan and overcome him, but who can overcome death?
II. THE LAST ENEMY.
1. The dreaded reserve of the army of hell. When Satan shall have brought up every other adversary, and all these shall have been overcome through the blood of the Lamb, then the last, the strongest, the most terrible, shall assail us! The soldiers of the Cross have pursued the foe up to the city walls, as if the Lord had said to his soldier, "There are more laurels yet to win."
2. But if death be the last enemy we have not to fight with him now; we have other enemies, and in attending to these we shall best be found prepared to die. To live well is the way to die well.
3. Notice — for herein lies the savour of the thought — it is the last enemy. Picture our brave soldiers at the battle of Waterloo; for many weary hours they have been face to face with the foe; now the commander announces that they have only to endure one more onslaught. How cheerfully do the ranks close! The last enemy! Soldiers of Christ, do not the words animate you? Courage! the tide must turn after this, it is the highest wave that now dashes over thee.
4. Having overcome death, peace is proclaimed, the sword is sheathed, the banners furled, and you are for ever more than a conqueror through Him that loved you.
III. AN ENEMY TO BE DESTROYED. At the resurrection, death's castle, the tomb, will be demolished, and all its captives must go free. But although this is a great truth with regard to the future, I desire just to conduct you over the road by which Christ has, in effect, virtually destroyed death already. He has taken away —
1. The shame of death. A man might hold his head low in the presence of angels who could not die, but now we can talk of death in the presence of archangels and not be ashamed, for Jesus died.
2. The sting of death. Christmas Evans represents the monster as driving its dart right through the Saviour, till it stuck in the Cross on the other side, and so has never been able to draw it out again.
3. Its slavery. The bondage of death arises from man's fearing to die.
4. Its greatest sorrows. Death snatches us away from the society of those we love, but it introduces us into nobler society far. We leave the imperfect Church on earth, but for the perfect Church in heaven. We leave possessions, but death gives us infinitely more than he takes away. Death takes us from sacred employments; but he ushers us into nobler. If death doth but give us a sight of Jesus, then let him come when he wills, we will scarcely call him enemy again. An enemy destroyed in this case becomes a friend.
IV. THE LAST ENEMY THAT WILT BE DESTROYED. Do not, therefore, give yourself so much concern if you do not feel death to be destroyed in you at present. Remember that dying grace is of no value in living moments. Expect that if your faith is not faith enough to die with, yet as a grain of mustard seed it will grow, and enable you to die triumphantly when dying time comes. You have many enemies who are not destroyed, e.g., inbred sins. Look well to them. Until they are all gone you must not expect death to be destroyed, for he is the last to die. Expect to lose thy dear ones still, for death is not destroyed. Hold them with a loose hand; do not count that to be freehold which are only leasehold; do not call that yours which is only lent you. And then remember that you too must die.
(C. H. Spurgeon).
Parallel VersesKJV: The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.