The Apostle Paul wrote, “The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.” (1 Cor 15:56) Death is the wages of sin (Rom 6:23), sin is lawlessness (1 John 3:4) and the law is God’s commandment (Rom 7:12). Death stings by sin. Without sin death has no power. Sin becomes strong because of the law. Without the law sin is weak.
Death kills, sin deceives and the law demands. How does death kill us? By sin. Death cannot kill us without sin. How does sin deceive us? By the law. Sin cannot deceive us without the law. What does it mean sin deceives us by the law? It means by knowing God’s commandments we think we will have power to overcome sin, but what happens is by knowing God’s commandments we become weak and have no power to overcome sin.
The apostle Paul wrote, “For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me,” (Rom 7:11)
The apostle Paul wrote, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.” (Rom 5:12) Because Adam sinned, sin entered the world. The world is now under the dominion of sin. Because Adam sinned, death spread to all men. Men become separated from God. This condition causes men to have no power at all to overcome sin. Even men were conceived and born in sin. The Psalmist wrote, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.” (Psa 51:5)
God gave His commandments to us (the law) and we tried to obey them. But strangely, the more we tried to obey the law, the stronger sin in our lives becomes and the weaker we become. Why? Because we are in the state of death. We have been separated from God that we become utterly helpless and powerless. The apostle Paul wrote, “And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me.” (Rom 7:10-11)
We think that God gave the law for us to keep. So we try to keep it. But instead of keeping it we break it. Then we try harder to keep the law but we still break it. But we keep on trying and we keep on failing. What’s wrong? We do not understand that God’s purpose in giving us the law is not so that we keep on trying to keep it, but on the contrary so that we stop trying to keep it. The purpose of the law is just to make us know what sin is, not to give us power to overcome sin. The apostle Paul wrote, “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.” (Rom 7:7)
God’s purpose in giving the law is to make us realize that we are so sinful, sold under sin that it is impossible for us to keep it. Does this mean that it is okay for us to break the law because we have no power to keep it? Certainly not, for if we break the law and continue to do so we will become devils that we have no more place for repentance. The Lord Jesus said that Judas Iscariot had become a devil, “Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?” (John 6:70)
God gave us the law so that we realize that we are sinful and that we have no power at all to keep the law. The law demands our obedience and we have disobedient and rebellious nature. Therefore, we should not try to keep the law. Neither should we be careless about the law and become lawless. What we should do is turn to the grace of God. The grace of God is Jesus Christ has met the demands of the law for us. The grace of God is the Holy Spirit has been given to us so that what Jesus Christ has done meeting the demands of the law for us becomes a reality in our lives. The apostle Paul wrote, “For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (Rom 8:3-4)
The apostle Paul wrote, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Cor 5:21) When Christ lived, He lived in righteousness for our sake. When Christ died, He died for our unrighteousness bearing our sins. We are the ones who sinned but He is the One who bore the penalty of our sins. He is the One who lived in righteousness but we are the ones who received the reward of His righteousness. This is the grace of God.
The apostle Paul wrote, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” (Rom 10 :4) What does it mean that Christ is the end of the law? It means Christ fulfilled the law for us, when He lived as well as when He died. When He lived He kept the commandments of the law for us and when He died He bore the penalties of the law for us. By doing this He made us righteous in the eyes of God. If we believe this, we will receive this righteousness and we are not under the law anymore.
The Apostle Paul wrote, “The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.” (1 Cor 15:56) Because of the sin of Adam all men are already in death. However death stings, that becomes more painful, for men who live in sin. All men are in sin, but sin becomes more powerful for men who live under the law. On the other hand, sin becomes weak for men who live under grace. The apostle Paul wrote, “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” (Rom 6:14). Because sin becomes weak for those who live under grace, death loses its sting. Death is not painful anymore, but it is peaceful like sleeping. Hallelujah!
How do we know that we as believers are still living under the law or has been living under grace? If we often find that sin is too strong for us that we struggle to overcome it, then we are still living under the law. Likewise, if we often think that death will be painful for us that we are afraid of it, then we are still living under the law. However, if we often find that sin is getting weaker and weaker in our lives that it becomes easier for us to overcome it, then we have been living under grace. Likewise, if we are not afraid of death when we think about it because we know that death will be peaceful like sleeping for us, then we have been living under grace.
When we live under grace, we will be more conscious of righteousness than sin and of life than death. When we live under grace, it is easier for us to practice righteousness than to commit sin and it is easier for us to think about life than to think about death. When this grace abounds in our lives, we will only be conscious of righteousness and life that we will completely reign over sin and death. The apostle Paul wrote, “For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.” (Rom 5:17)
When we reign in righteousness over sin and reign in life over death, then we will enter the realm of incorruption and immortality where we can completely destroy death in our lives. The apostle Paul wrote, “So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” (1 Cor 15:54-55)