The Conquering of Our Greatest Fear: Death

Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.

Heb. 2:14-15

The greatest fear all people fight is the fear of dying. In a society which marginalizes the ugly effects of death, we find it hard to believe that the fear of death is life’s greatest struggle. Most of us have never seen a decaying body or have rarely seen an individual move from this life into eternity. Most of our relatives have died alone in nursing homes or hospitals. Our funerals are quick and pristine. Our mourning is quiet and withdrawn. We use euphemisms like “passed away” or the “late” John Smith to avoid using the word, “death.” As a society, we attempt to ignore death, but death is our ever present reality.

In spite of the cover-up, death remains our greatest fear. The fear of death is the controlling factor behind most people’s decisions, choices, and actions (Heb. 2:14-15). The Bible says that we were not created to die. Our existence was meant to be eternal, part of being made in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:26). We were designed to live forever. However, the Fall changed everything. Death entered this world through sin. Death is an aberration created by sin’s awful effect on creation (Rom. 6:23). Therefore, death is our greatest enemy. Death separates relationships. Death is deterioration and decay (not a pretty sight). Death causes hurt, pain, anguish, and grief. We were not wired for death.

However, Christ came to deliver us not only from the fear of death, but from the effects of death itself. The resurrection of Jesus was not simply a coming back from the dead, but a transformation in which Jesus’ material body was made perfect and complete: free from sickness, weakness, decay and aging. By coming back from the dead by the power of the Spirit (Rom. 8:11), Jesus Christ shattered death’s grip and made the way for us to live in eternity with him (1 Cor. 15:20-22).

At the Second Coming of Christ, we too will be given glorified, physical bodies ready to live life in eternity in a “new heavens and a new earth” (2 Peter 3:13). Spirits that are resident in heaven will be rejoined to their glorified bodies and we will live as we were born to live eternally. This new Jerusalem will be a place that is without death, weeping, sickness, and pain (Rev. 21:1-4). The resurrection of Christ not only overcomes our fear of death, but destroys the power of death by loosing Satan’s grip, thereby defeating our greatest foe (1 Cor. 15:26).

Christ came that he might slay sin, render death null and void, and give life to men. He was made flesh in order that He might destroy death and bring us to life, for we are tied and bound in sin.

St. Irenaeus of Lyon (202 a.d.)

If we believe in Christ, let us have faith in His work and promises; and since we shall not die eternally, let us come with glad assurance to Christ, with Whom we are both to conquer and to reign forever.

St. Cyprian of Carthage (258 a.d.)