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Friday, March 26, 2010

But doesn't Scripture teach us that death is our enemy?

One thing that is imperative for us to realize is who we are and how we were created. Many people believe that being human is sin, wretchedness, ugliness and awful. The teaching is that men are sin, are guilty of Adam's sin and therefore need a Savior, not that men commit sin and therefore need a Savior. They would further see themselves as wicked and evil by nature without any hope on this earth of ever making a righteous choice. The flip side of this or extreme are those who refuse to accept that their goodness is flawed by their own freewill choice to sin. We all sin, not because we don't have an inner voice saying not to, but because we are weak without the Holy Spirit's power to help us.

Sin is a choice that Adam and Eve made. James 1:14 tells us that we sin when we are enticed by our own lusts. That is what happened to both Adam and Eve. She wanted more than what she had and he didn't want to let go of her. Before that, Lucifer made a choice to sin against a Holy God. Sin did not begin with Adam and Eve, but with Satan.

Sin entered the world through Adam and Eve. This Scripture in Romans 5 doesn't mention animals receiving death at this point but people and that is important. We are not overcome with remorse when a baby animal is eaten in the wilds of Africa. But we would not feel the same if that same lion were running after a human toddler. That is because we are special in God's sight. Everything in our being proclaims that truth.

I don't believe that God was taken unaware by Lucifer's temptation of Adam and Eve. It was a means to challenge God, which God allowed. Satan wanted to be ruler of God through these creatures created in His image. But God had a plan to remove Satan from His presence permanently using these same creatures created in the image of God and a process called death and in so doing, He would destroy sin. Scripture tells us that God had this in mind from the foundation of the world. Revelations 13:8

1 John 3:5-9 says,
"And ye know that He was manifested to take away our sins; and in Him is no sin. Whosoever abideth in Him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen Him, neither known Him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for His seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God."
He is telling us here that the purpose that God had in mind, which we know occurred from the foundation of the world, was to destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3 explains how this is accomplished through us. We have the potential to make this enemy God's footstool by grace (God's divine nature imparted to us) through faith by the very fact that we are created in the image of God and are therefore, like Him.

Now I personally see that Satan's interaction with God in Job is significant because a) he's in the presence of God b) they are having a debate of sorts concerning the integrity of a human c) God is defending Job's integrity and d) Satan is given freedom to tempt Job through illness, the death of his children and financial ruin. Interestingly, Job passed the test. Clearly, Adam and Eve didn't and they were not nearly in the state that Job was in of suffering. This proves that we can choose.

According to 1 Corinthians 15:21-26 says,
"For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at His coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death."
Death is our enemy because we are created in the image of God. We are a little lower than the angels (Psalm 8:5) and of much greater value than animals (Luke 12:7). Jesus tells us in John 10 that we are like gods. This is because we are so much like Him. We make freewill choices. We have every attribute of God including the knowledge of good and evil, which was the final aspect making us like God. Genesis 3:22

Psalm 104:29-31 tells us that God allowed animals to die during the creation process. This is partly because of His ultimate goal that would be accomplished through His own death, burial and resurrection, which is what 1 Corinthians 15 is expressly explaining. Without that resurrection to life, we are undone and wasting our time. This is the only thing that can get us back to where we need to be.

Romans 8:20-22 tells us that God subjected the creation to these sufferings in hope. That hope is the "glorious liberty of the children of God." Our suffering cannot come close to being compared to this final event.

Jesus was perfected through suffering. We know that He was without sin and so this was not a consequence of wrong doing. There is something about suffering that helps us personally to be perfected. I can often see that in my own life. A situation of suffering seems to add a greater understanding to us and a greater power according to Paul. It increases grace in our lives if we endure that suffering in the right way. God created that type of trial for that reason.

This is in contrast to the consequences of sin, however. This type of suffering does not prefect us in the same way because we are suffering for evil. Peter explains that here:
But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing. For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 1 Peter 3:14-18

One day death will be gone. It will be completely defeated. Will this happen during the Millennial reign of Christ? According to Scripture in Revelation, (Revelation 20:7-9) a host of people are going to rise up against Jesus in the end and be destroyed. So the answer is, "No."

It will be a while before death is completely gone for those who remain on this earth. For those of us who are resurrected, we will enjoy eternal life with Jesus after our death and experience all His goodness. That is our hope. He is truly a God of life, not death. Yet He created death for a good purpose. A new day will dawn and God will begin creating again in a new heavens and a new earth without decay.

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