Why do many (a great many!) born-again believers live their lives in fear of dying? Besides the pain of course. We all fear pain, but do we believe that God is in control of our appointment with death? Or do we think it’s somehow left up to chance and circumstance? Death is something we will all face, but we don’t like to think about.
As I’m writing this article, Christmas is just around the corner! But how is that possible? The markers of our lives seem to come and go with uncanny speed: Christmases, birthdays, anniversaries. And the older I get, the faster they fly by.
Last July, as I held my little great-granddaughter for the first time, I thought about the stages of my life: my childhood in a small town in southeastern Idaho; high school—the longest four years of anyone’s life; marrying and raising a family; the empty nest; aging (gracefully, please!).
And the final stage of life—dying.
We do not know the exact moment of our death, but I find it comforting that God does.
Psalm 139:16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
God wrote down every day of my life before He created the earth. Those days were formed for me. He wrote them down. We don’t have a random date with death. It will not come a day before or a day after it is appointed.
I can hear the question in some minds out there. Can’t you hasten your death? What about the person who doesn’t eat right, or the drug addict who abuses his body? Don’t they shorten their days? And what about the desperate person who commits suicide?
I don’t claim to have all the answers. All I can say to such questions is—nothing surprises God.
He knew the moment of my birth and my death before He created the world.
And knowing that He knows gives me comfort. I can get on an airplane and be assured that if it crashes, it was my appointed time—not just the pilot’s!
So, does knowing you have an appointment with death give you peace, or are you a little worried about it?
I have to admit, at one time, even after I became a Christ follower, it worried me. Don’t get me wrong. I still don’t want to die anytime soon, especially if it’s going to hurt! And I think I have too many important things to do yet, like seeing my first book published and attending my granddaughter’s wedding.
But I know I have an appointment, and although I’m not anxious for it to come, I’m not afraid.
I have to insert here: if you have never accepted Christ as your Savior, it’s okay to fear death and the judgment. You should. But read on. Maybe you’ll hear something that sparks your curiosity.
What takes away the fear of death?
I John 4:18 There is no fear in love. Perfect love casts out fear.
“But I don’t love God perfectly,” you say. “No wonder I’m so afraid!”
I don’t love God perfectly either. Whose love are we talking about here? God’s love or yours? It’s His love that is perfect.
I like the Amplified version of this scripture.
I John 4:18 There is no fear in love [dread does not exist]. But perfect (complete, full-grown) love drives out fear, because fear involves [the expectation of divine] punishment, so the one who is afraid [of God’s judgment] is not perfected in love [has not grown into a sufficient understanding of God’s love].
No wonder we fear death. We’re expecting punishment on the other side. This scripture says that the person who is afraid of God’s judgment has not grown into a sufficient understanding of God’s love.
Jesus loved you with perfect love. He took your place on the cross. He took the punishment, so you wouldn’t have to take it. Do you believe that?
Then what do you have to fear?
There’s someone who does everything he can to keep you from believing that truth.
Hebrews 2:14-15 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
I’ve read this scripture many times, but I think I have a new understanding of it.
It says that through death (Christ’s death) He was able to destroy him who had the power of death (the devil) and release those who were in bondage all their lives through fear of death (us).
In what way did the devil have the power of death? Did he have the power to make people die? That doesn’t make sense to me. That would mean that God’s determination in matters of life or death could be undermined..
I wonder if the “power” of death wasn’t fear of what comes after. The devil is an accuser. That’s his job description. He wields the “power” of death by constantly accusing us:
Look at you! You’re not worthy. You don’t deserve God’s love. Just wait until you get to the judgment. You’ll get what’s coming to you then!
The word “devil” actually means “false accuser.”
When Jesus died on the cross for our sins, He destroyed the devil’s power (authority) to accuse us.
Satan is the lawyer who points at our guilt and Jesus is the advocate who points to His own blood.
I Corinthians 15:55-57 O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
The strength of sin is the law.
As believers, we should know by now, that it was impossible to keep the law. We’re not under the law. We’re under grace.
That’s why Jesus died: to take the penalty for law-breakers. Death doesn’t have the authority to bind us up in fear anymore—so why do we let it?
There’s a saying that many swear by and think is in the Bible: God helps them that help themselves.
Chapter and verse, please.
God did it all.
He sent His son, Jesus, to earth to die and pay the penalty for us. None of our good works can put us in right standing with God.
When we really believe that, we will cease to fear death. And when we cease to fear death, we will know perfect love.
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