1 Corinthians 15:56-58. 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.
58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
In these three simple verses we find the entire Christian life summed up. Before Christ. By Christ. In Christ.
1. Before Christ – The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
Here is the natural state of man – born into death. Living from birth to the grave with the sting of death. Why? Because of sin. Sin has given death it’s power. No sin, no dying. As Paul will say elsewhere, “the wage of sin is death.”
And (much more controversially) the power of sin is the law.
But what does this mean? Is God’s law sinful? No. It’s perfect. It doesn’t turn us into sinners. We are born sinners. But God’s law at best defines our sin, and at worst, it stirs up our sin. Sin that already exists inside of us because we are born in Adam.
Paul wants us to know that every sin problem is a law problem. Are you sinning (dumb question)? Then there is a power source to that sin – law. The law will always produce either the sin of pride (look at me, I obeyed the law), or the sin of despair and shame (don’t look at me, I failed to keep the law). When it comes to the law, success and failure both lead us into sin, and worse, death.
2. By Christ – But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
But by the work of Christ we don’t have to live this way. We don’t have to live under the burden of the law’s condemnation. It’s constant demand for perfection. Why? Because Christ, in his living and in his dying, 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 us. 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 feed our pride with our performance. And we no longer have to despair when we get everything wrong. It’s finally OK to not be OK.
Union with Christ means the law of God is now our delight, not our destruction.
3. In Christ – Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
What is the Christian’s response to this glorious good news? Do we coast until raptured into Heaven? Do we continue in sin to prove the grace of God? Do we passively “let go and let God?” How do respond to so great a grace?
Here’s how – we live the quite ordinary yet victorious life that Christ has earned for us by his life and death. We break free from the law’s curse and embrace the law of Christ – his own life of love and holiness – as our life’s purpose. We zealously pursue a life that is steadfast, immovable, and abounding in the work of Christ. Not to prove ourselves, but to prove the power of the gospel!
You see, how we will live forever must become how we live right now. Therefore, how we live right now matters, for it proves what we believe about our eternity.
When we live steadfast, unmovable, and abounding lives, we prove to the world that eternal life in Christ is real. When we get out of bed each day and put on our Jesus pants and face the real world with love and truth, we prove the reality of resurrection power in us. When we swallow evil (see day 211) rather than running from it, or returning it, we prove the power of everlasting forgiveness. This is why no labor of love is in vain in the Lord. Because each act of grace is an eternal act, from an eternal life, with an eternal ripple effect of divine proportion.
“To live is Christ” is to live in his steadfast, immovable, abounding love so that we might live today from his eternal work of love. So take heart in the resurrection hope of Jesus. Be steadfast. Be immovable. Abound in the Lord’s work. Because nothing you will do today is meaningless. Like Christ himself, it is all eternal.
Do you live today the way you will live forever? How might your life look different if you did?
You in Christ
How does your union with Christ empower you to be steadfast and immovable today?
Christ in you
What work of the Lord’s love might you abound in today?