Chapter 15:51-58 (ESV) - Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
Question to consider: Why does Paul say the power of sin is the law?
Today’s passage is the culmination of Paul’s discussion regarding the resurrection of the dead. The key sentence of this entire chapter is the final one. The hope of our resurrection in Christ is enough for us to remain steadfast in the faith and joyfully be about the work of the Lord, knowing that our labor is not in vain.
This idea of being imperishable is exclusively tied to the righteousness of Christ. Sin is the opposite of life. It is death. Jesus said He willingly laid down His life and took it back up again. He did this by taking our sin upon Himself and receiving the full cup of God’s wrath against it on the cross. Once that penalty had been paid, and Jesus’ lifeless body was placed in the tomb, it could not stay dead, for Jesus was without sin.
Paul wrote that the power of sin is the law, for the law exposes our sin and rightly condemns us to death. Once we realize that we stand condemned under the law, we can begin to see why Jesus giving us His own righteousness is good news (gospel - a variation of the Old English gōdspel which is literally translated “good news”). People want there to be many ways to God, but what other way could there be? Can you think of anyone else in history who was willing to pay for your sin in exchange for his or her righteousness?
A common misconception about heaven is that it is full of “pretty good” people - people whose good deeds probably outweighed their bad ones and were fairly well liked here on earth. To them, hell is reserved for Genghis Khan or Hitler. However, if sin is the sting of death, there can be no place for it in eternal life. How do I know this? Because the garden of Eden was perfect before a single sin entered it and started this whole mess to begin with.
Now we have the assurance that at the last trumpet, our faith will be complete, and we will be made imperishable and sinless. Alleluia!
Dear heavenly father, thank You for providing the way for us to be delivered from sin. We look forward to the day when we can be with You and no longer have to sift through lies, murder, and corruption that have taken over this world. Please keep us in Your care until that last trumpet sounds, and Jesus calls us home. Amen.