Day Four: Continuity and discontinuity

1 Corinthians 15:54-57 (NIV)
54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
   Where, O death, is your sting?” 

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 8:11 (NIV)
And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.

“The Christian message is that he has already done the new thing in the Messiah, Jesus, and that he will do it for all Jesus’ people through the power of the Spirit. And in that new thing death and decay will be gone, swallowed up forever.” [N.T. Wright, Paul for Everyone: 1 Corinthians]

“Paul’s point in this theological aside is that death is not simply the result of decay through normal human processes. Rather, it is the result of the deadly poison, sin itself, which became all the more energized in our lives through acquaintance with the law. Hence, in exulting Christs’ victory over death, Paul is reminded that that victory is the final triumph over the sin that brought death into the world, and over the law that has so frequently emboldened sin. But since both sin and the law have already been overcome in the cross, this compendium prefaces a final doxology that thanks God for present ‘victory’ as well.” [Gordon Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, NICNT]

Through the cross, Jesus has conquered the power of sin and death in our lives, but we still live bodily in the “already-not-yet” world. Our experience of the Spirit’s work and power in our lives is evidence, “down payment” and guarantee of the future victory and life we will experience in resurrection. Therefore, as Romans 8:11 explains, the indwelling Spirit who lives in us now will be involved in the resurrection of our bodies and our mode of living eternally. Through the Spirit, we have a taste of eternity now!

Today, let’s declare in prayer Christ’s victory over sin and death in our present life, and celebrating his eternal victory over sin and death, “Where, O death, is your victory?    Where, O death, is your sting?” Then, let’s close in worship with the song “Jesus Only You” (click here).