The Curse of Death
Benjamin Franklin said, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes,” and the quote has become famous because we recognize the truth contained within it. People may attempt to evade taxes, and perhaps may even succeed somehow, but no matter how much people attempt to evade death, they will not be able to hide or escape. Death eventually comes to all, young or old, rich or poor, wise or foolish (Ecclesiastes 2:16).
People generally do not like to think or talk about death; it is not a pleasant subject, and many would rather forget that they will die some day. Many cope with the thought of death with resignation, believing that since death is part of life as we currently understand it, it has always been so, and always will be. Death, in such a view, is a given, just the way things are: billions have died, billions more will die as well, and once they are dead, they will remain dead.
While it makes sense according to all worldly logic to be convinced that death is non-negotiable and an unavoidable reality, Christianity has boldly proclaimed a quite different message: mankind was not meant to die. Mankind has been cursed to die. And through Jesus of Nazareth mankind can be released from the bondage of that curse, overcome death, and live forever. In this life, death may seem certain, but in Christ, death is temporary!
How can this be? According to the revelation of God in the Scriptures, the first two humans, Adam and Eve, were created and placed in the Garden of Eden, with full access to the tree of life, and not subject to death (Genesis 1:26-27, 2:4-25). Yet Adam and Eve rebelled against God, eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil against God’s specific prohibition, and as a result God cursed mankind to suffer death (Genesis 3:1-19). Mankind found itself cast out of the Garden of Eden, kept away from the tree of life, and now cursed with death (Genesis 3:22-24, 5:1-20). The Apostle Paul will later fully explain what happened at this moment: sin and death entered the world through Adam’s sin, and God subjected the creation to corruption and decay, and all have been affected (Romans 5:12-18, 8:18-25).
Yet even in the curse was the promise of One who was to come and undo what Adam had wrought, and this One would be Jesus of Nazareth (Genesis 3:15). Jesus lived as God in the flesh, bearing the express image of the Father, tempted without sinning, living a pure and holy life, giving us an example to follow (Romans 8:29, Colossians 2:9, Hebrews 4:15, 1 Peter 2:21-23, 1 John 2:6). He died a horrendous death on the cross, not for His own sin, but for the sin of the world, allowing for the forgiveness of sin through faith in His name (Acts 3:13-26, Romans 5:6-11, 1 Peter 2:24-25). Even though conventional wisdom suggests that once dead, the dead remain dead, God raised Jesus from the dead to die no more, and He continues to live in the resurrection, and will do so for all eternity (Acts 2:14-36, Romans 6:7-11, 1 Corinthians 15:1-28). Through His life, death, and resurrection, Jesus overcame and conquered both sin and death (Romans 8:1-8).
Through Christ God now invites everyone to experience spiritual regeneration, eternal spiritual life, through faith in the Lord Jesus and participation in His Kingdom (Romans 6:3-7). Those who maintain that faith cherish the promise that the Lord Jesus will return and conquer death, the final adversary, on the day of the resurrection of all, the day upon which all will rise from the dead, be transformed for immortality, and live in glory in the presence of God forever without death and where there is no curse (1 Corinthians 15:20-58, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17, Revelation 21:4, 22:3). Death will be swallowed up in victory!
Death, both physical and spiritual, are part of the present created order. This is not because God made death as good, but on account of the curse of sin. Yet that curse can be overcome. Death need not be the end. Let us find victory over sin and death through our faith in the Risen Lord, the Lamb, Jesus Christ!
Ethan R. Longhenry