IMPORTANT – The Bible says, ‘It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment’[i] If you landed on this page because you are afraid of death, and do not have peace with God Click here first.
Death – The King of Terrors for the Unbeliever
For the unbeliever, nothing can be more terrible than death. It is the ‘King of Terrors’ (See Job 18:14). It is the end of life of the natural man, the first Adam. Everything in which man has had – his home, his thoughts, his whole being, is closed and perished forever. ‘His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day, his thoughts perish’ (Psalm 146:4). It is the end to all his plans. This busy world forgets him: he is extinct. Death is written on him, for he is a sinner: he cannot deliver himself.
But that is not all. Man indeed, as man alive in this world. Sin has come in; with sin Satan’s power, more sin and death. The wages of sin are a terror to the conscience. Man has been unable to resist the master, Satan, who has exercised his dreadful rights.
God cannot help[ii]. Death is His judgment on sin. Sin does not pass unnoticed, and the terror and plague of the conscience is witness to His judgment, the officer of justice to the criminal, and the proof of his guilt in the presence of coming judgment. How terrible!
Christ’s Death for the Believer
Man is condemned: he cannot deliver himself. But Christ has come in. The Prince of Life has come into death. What is death now for the believer?
So we see two aspects of death –
- Satan’s power:
- God’s judgment:
In being made sin for us, Christ has undergone death, passing through both Satan’s power and God’s judgment. Death with its causes has been met in its every way by Christ. It is no longer a source of terror to my soul. In every sense, it has lost its power.
Death is Ours
But death has much more than passed away. Paul says that death is ours, as all things are (See 1 Cor 3:22). Death and judgment have become my salvation; sin and the wages of sin have passed away. In a word, Christ, the sinless One, having come in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, has dealt with my whole condition, the first Adam under obligation to the law (see Rom 8:3). I live before God now in the One who is risen. What is the effect of this?
- Condemnation and judgment being over, my soul is accepted. The foods of water that engulfed the oppressive Egyptians was a wall of deliverance to the children of Israel (see Ex 14:22).
- In the power of Christ’s resurrection, I am quickened. He becomes my life. In the new man, I can dispense with the old, Christ having passed through death, I can consider myself dead. ‘Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom 6:11). We are free of ordinances.
- The old man dies; the new man can never die. It is Christ. In dying, it quits what is mortal and leaves death behind. ‘We … are absent from the body and present with the Lord’ (2 Cor 5:8 Darby). Our old man never revives, but our mortal bodies will be changed, like unto His glorious body conformed to the image of God’s Son. (See Phil 3:21 and Rom 8:29). Having a new life, we are disencumbered from the old man which hinders and hems in our way.
Death is the ceasing of the old man in which we were guilty before God. It is the ceasing of sin, hindrance and trouble. We have done with the old man righteously, because Christ has died for us, and now we live in the power of the new.
- As to death: ‘To depart and to be with Christ is far better. (Phil 1:23)’
- As to judgment: Christ has borne it.
- As to the power of sin: it is the death of the very nature it lives in.
- As to actual mortality: it is deliverance from the old to be with Christ in the new man who enjoys Him.
Who knowing the proper gain of it, would not die?
Meanwhile, we live here to serve Christ. To us to live is Christ. (See Phil 1:21).
A simplified summary by Sosthenes of J N Darby’s – ‘What is Death’ ‘ Collected Writings volume 17 – Doctrinal 1, page 302.
[i] Hebrews 9:27
[ii] Or should I say, ‘does not help’? – Sosthenes