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 – living with the sting of death. Born to die. 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. Law is the power source for sin. 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, or its 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.
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 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 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!
“To live is Christ” is to live in his steadfast, immovable, abounding love, knowing that our labor is not in vain in the Lord. So take heart in the resurrection hope of Jesus 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?
Playlist: Always Abounding.
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