1 Corinthians 15:55-58
O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?…
I. IT IS FROM ACTUAL SIN THAT DEATH DERIVES HIS POWER. We speak of death as coming in the course of nature; but it is a penal infliction, and pertains to man, not as a creature, but as a sinner. But for sin, death had never been. I have no doubt that from the mind of Christ when He was on earth, this association was never absent. In all the temporal woes which He witnessed, He saw sin. If this association were more strongly and habitually in our minds we should benefit more than we do by scenes of death and visits to the grave. Every time we are reminded of our mortality we ought to be reminded of our sinfulness and the consequent value to us of salvation,
III. IT IS FROM CONSCIOUS SIN THAT DEATH DERIVES HIS TERRORS. I grant there is something that awes the spirit in the unknown sensations of dying, in the dissolution of soul and body, in the dissolution of the ties that connect us with friends, and in the darkness and loathsomeness of the grave. Yet admitting all this, still it is no one nor all of these that constitutes the cause of our dread in the anticipation of death. It is the assurance that "after death" is "the judgment." Could this be removed, what a large proportion of the terrors of death would be instantly dispelled! An awakened conscience is fearful; yet an unawakened conscience is still more so.
III. IT IS BY THE DEATH OF CHRIST THAT DEATH IS BEREFT OF HIS POWER. If the power of death arise from sin, then the only way in which it can be done away is by the expiation and forgiveness of sin; sin must be atoned if death is to be destroyed. The Bible accordingly is full of this doctrine. The death of Jesus was the finishing of His atonement. In His resurrection we bare the Divine attestation of the atonement having been satisfactory and accepted; His rising from the dead was His full release as the Substitute of the guilty for whom He died. But how is it, then, that Christians die? It is not God's plan that the final destinies of individuals should be publicly manifested and settled before the time; it would supersede the final judgment, and interfere with the grand final manifestation of the power of the risen Lord in the winding up of the scheme of redemption. But observe —
1. The curse is taken out of death to all who are in Christ. Death is the messenger of peace that calls their souls to heaven.
2. The power of death is destroyed by the death of Christ, inasmuch as then was the virtual, though not the actual destruction of that power. "I am the resurrection and the life," etc.
IV. IT IS BY FAITH IN THE DEATH OF CHRIST THAT DEATH IS DIVESTED OF HIS TERRORS. If a sense of guilt inspires the fear, by what can the fear possibly be quelled but by a firm belief in the Divine propitiation? It was when Jesus "through death destroyed the power of death," that He "delivered them, who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage"; but that deliverance can only be enjoyed through faith in Him, who gained the victory, who "spoiled principalities and powers," etc.
(R. Wardlaw, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?