39. To Free Us from Bondage to the Fear of Death — #50Days50Reasons

39. To Free Us from Bondage to the Fear of Death — #50Days50Reasons

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“Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery” (Hebrews 2:14-15).

Jesus called Satan a murderer. “He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth . . . he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). But his main interest is not killing. It is damning. In fact, he much prefers that his followers have long and happy lives—to mock suffering saints and hide the horrors of hell.

His power to damn human beings lies not in himself, but in the sins that he inspires and the lies that he tells. The only thing that damns anybody is unforgiven sin. Hexes, enchantments, voodoo, séances, curses, black magic, apparitions, voices—none of these casts a person into hell. They are the bells and whistles of the devil. The one lethal weapon he has is the power to deceive us. His chief lie is that self-exaltation is more to be desired than Christ-exaltation, and sin preferable to righteousness. If that weapon could be taken out of his hand, he would no longer have the power of eternal death.

That is what Christ came to do—take that weapon out of Satan’s hand. To do this, Christ took our sins on himself and suffered for them. When that happened, they could be used no more by the devil to destroy us. Taunt us? Yes. Mock us? Yes. But damn us? No. Christ bore the curse in our place. Try as he will, Satan cannot destroy us. The wrath of God is removed. His mercy is our shield. And Satan cannot succeed against us.

To accomplish this deliverance, Christ had to take on a human nature, because without it, he could not experience death. Only the death of the Son of God could destroy the one who had the power of death. Hence the Bible says, “Since . . . the children share in flesh and blood [=had a human nature], he himself likewise partook of the same things [=took on a human nature], that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14). When Christ died for sins, he took from the devil his one lethal weapon: unforgiven sin.

Freedom from fear was the aim of Christ in doing this. By dying he delivered “all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery” (Hebrews 2:14). The fear of death enslaves. It makes us timid and dull. Jesus died to set us free. When the fear of death is destroyed by an act of self-sacrificing love, the bondage to boring, bigheaded self-preservation is broken. We are freed to love like Christ, even at the cost of our lives.

The devil may kill our body, but he can no longer kill our soul. It is safe in Christ. And even our mortal body will be raised some- day: “He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you” (Romans 8:11). We are the freest of all people. And the Bible is unmistakable in what this freedom is for: “You were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13).

 

 

 

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*This is taken from John Piper’s book “The Passion of Jesus Christ,” which was later released under the name “50 Reasons Jesus Came to Die.” Please visit Desiring God’s Website for more gospel-centered resources from John Piper. You can also download a free PDF of “50 Reasons Jesus Came to Die” here.