1 Corinthians 15:56. The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Here is the logic of Paul: If Christ has defeated death, and we know he did by his resurrection, then he has also defeated sin. Christ has absorbed the sting of death- the sting of death is sin. Sin is what gave death it’s power, it’s pain. Sin brought death to us all. Jesus didn’t just conquer death when he arose, he conquered its source- sin. And along with it, he stole power away from the law.
And so a very practical question about our eternity is answered, “Will we live forever with the ability to keep sinning?” The answer is no. The sting of death, sin, will be placed under Jesus’ feet and stomped into oblivion forever.
What a blessed thought. A future of no more sinning. No more shame. No more guilt filled hiding and blaming and avoiding.
How is it possible that we won’t sin anymore? Well for one we will have glorified bodies to match our glorified spirits. We will be perfected from the inside to the outside- all the way through. But beyond this, there will be no more law to empower sin from outside of us.
It may seem strange that Paul brings up the law here. He hasn’t talked about the law much at all in this letter. This isn’t Galatians. The Corinthians had a spirituality problem, not a law problem. Right? But the law is what empowers our sin. When we think we can keep the perfect law we become blinded by our own pride. Then when we fail to keep the perfect law, we become blinded by our own shame and guilt. When it comes to the law, “success” and failure both lead us into sin, and thus death.
The law makes death a terror. Because there is a law, there is a judgment. Death ushers us into that judgment. Upon dying all mankind will be judged according to their relationship with the law. Without Christ you will stand on your own before God and his perfect standard. With Christ, you will stand as righteous and justified as Christ himself. This is why, following the judgment, there will be no more need for the law beyond the law of love.
On a slightly more down-to-earth level, Paul also wants us to know that every sin problem is a law problem. If there is sin (and there was in Corinth), then there is a power source to that sin- law.
You see both the Corinthians and us are trying to live under a law. Anytime we try to make ourselves of more value than others, anytime we seek status over love, anytime we tout our own spirituality, we are placing ourselves and others under law. But Christ has abolished the condemning power of the law. The law no longer has to stir up sin in our lives because it is no longer a standard that has to be lived up to. Jesus already lived up to that standard for all of humanity. And he lived up to every other standard that we create for ourselves and each other. He lived up to all the perfectionism that we chase every day. Because this is true, no law has to drive us to sin. We no longer have to be obsessed with getting everything right. We no longer have to perform. We no longer have to despair when we get it all wrong. It’s ok to not be ok.
Why is this true? Because God has graciously given us the victory through our Lord, Jesus Christ. It’s all of grace.
“To live is Christ” means I live free from death, sin, and law. Christ has turned all of these into his victory. And now his victory is ours. Death is no longer the terror of judgment. In Christ we have already been judged and found guiltless. In Christ we have already been made resurrection and heaven ready. In Christ we are free from sin’s power today and we will be free from its presence one day forever.
Are you living a victorious life? In what ways does law still control you? Can you identify ways that you are putting others under law? How does union with Christ and his righteousness free you from the law today?