Although Christians have been forgiven of their sins and are no longer under sentence to suffer the penalty of death for those sins (Rom. 6:23; 8:1; 1 Cor. 15:3), they are still subject to physical death because God has not yet applied to their lives all of the benefits that were earned by Christ for his people. In fact, Paul says that death will be the “last enemy to be destroyed” (1 Cor. 15:26). For this reason, believers today, living in a fallen world, are still subject to aging and death.
Yet death does not come to believers because God is punishing them, for, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). Rather, death is the final outcome of living in a fallen world. Just as Christians are not kept from all sicknesses, floods, and earthquakes, etc., and just as the agricultural fields of Christians still grow as many weeds as the fields of non-Christians, so Christians will experience death as well.
However, Christians should have confidence that God will use even the experience of final illness and death as one of those events that “work together for good” for those who “love God and are called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28). Jesus Christ, who himself experienced physical death as a human being, often seems particularly near to Christians as they die, for they “suffer with him” (Rom. 8:17; cf. Phil. 3:10; 1 Pet. 4:13). Paul hoped to honor Christ in his death as he had in his life: “it is my eager expectation and hope that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death” (Phil. 1:20). The risen Lord Jesus encouraged Christians in Smyrna, “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev. 2:10; cf. Heb. 11:35; Rev. 12:11).
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