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Victory Over Death

by David A. DePra

When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, "It is

finished," and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. (Jn. 19:30)

     The words, "It is finished," are central to the story of Jesus' death

on the Cross. But WHAT is finished? What was Jesus referring to

by the word "IT?"

Death is Finished

     Foremost among those things included in the word "IT" is death.

When Jesus said, "It is finished," He meant death is finished. Death

was finished because sin was finished. Jesus was bearing sin on

the Cross. And He would conquer death through the resurrection.

     Death had never before been conquered. Sure, there had been

those whom Jesus had raised from the dead -- Lazarus was raised

shortly before Jesus was crucified. But all who had ever been

raised from the dead died AGAIN. Their resurrection, as wonderful

as it was, had not conquered death itself.

     But not so with the resurrection of Christ. When Jesus was raised

from the dead, it wasn't temporary. It was eternal. Death had not

merely been postponed. It had been fully conquered. How could

death be conquered?

     Think about it. Death cannot be conquered unless death is met

head-on and defeated. You cannot conquer death by avoiding the

issue. You have to meet it and overcome it.

     Jesus did this, not merely BY dying, and not merely through the

resurrection. Those were the end products and sealed the victory

over death. But He was able to conquer death by His resurrection

because of what led up to it: His perfect life.

     Jesus was able to bear the sin of the world because HE had no

sin. He was able to be the Lamb of God without blemish because

He was sinless. THAT is what made it possible for Jesus to

conquer death. He entered into death with nothing in Himself which

death could hold.

     Lazarus and everyone else had sinned. Death had a hold on

them. They were born spiritually dead in Adam, and therefore,

were subject to death. Thus, they died again. But not so with Christ.

Christ lived a perfect life. So when He died, there was nothing in

Him which death could hold.

     The Bible states this:

Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death,

because it was not possible that he should be held by it. (Acts 2:24)

     Note the phrase, "It was not possible that He should be held by

death." Not possible? Why? Because there was no sin found in

Him. And since the wages of sin IS death, where there is no sin,

there is no death. Death could therefore find no place in Jesus

Christ by which He could be held.

     But wait. If Christ lived a perfect life, with nothing death could

hold, then how could He die on the Cross?

     Jesus could die on the Cross because He has bearing OUR

sin. He was bearing everything which death COULD hold on our

behalf. He took that upon Himself down into death. Otherwise there

was nothing in Jesus Christ which would otherwise merit death.

     Thus, we see why the death of Christ was real. He was, on the

Cross, bearing the fullness of sin. All of it. The sin nature and the

acts of sin. That is why He died. Despite having nothing in Himself

which death could hold, He bore everything which death COULD

hold, i.e. sin itself.

     But then what was raised? Surely not sin. Surely, when Christ

was raised, He didn't bring with Him all the sin which He had bore

on the Cross, did He?

     No. Jesus died on the Cross bearing the sin of the world -- our

"body of sin," i.e., the sin nature. Romans says this quite clearly. It

says, "Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the

body of sin might be destroyed." So our "body of sin" WAS

destroyed through the death of Christ. Thus, it was NOT raised

in Him. It was left in death. It died. That is why we are free from

sin: "He who has died is freed from sin."

     Yet Christ WAS raised -- not with a different body -- but with the

same body which died on the Cross. There is no question about

this. He even showed His disciples the scars in His hands. But

there was something which was now different. The body which

emerged from the tomb had passed through death. It had, in fact,

conquered death. What emerged was not the old life, but what the

Bible calls "newness of life."

     You cannot have newness of life unless old things are passed

away. You cannot. So what this means is that the "body of sin;"

our old man in Adam was dead. "He" had to be dead. For unless

He was dead, there is no newness. There would just be "oldness"

with a upgrade.

     So we see that Christ, as the Lamb of God, bore the old man of

sin on the Cross and died. But because He had been the sinless

Lamb of God leading up to His death, He was able to pass through

death, leaving behind the old man of sin, and able to be raised up

to newness of life. That is victory. Death is conquered through the

resurrection of Jesus Christ. There is now NEW life.

     This is vital to see. Freedom from sin, victory over death, and

new life in Jesus Christ, all depend on the fact that what emerged

from the tomb was NEW. What was raised was free from sin and

alive to God. Old things are passed away. All things are become

new through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

In Him

     We often speak about what Jesus did FOR us. And that is

appropriate. But what Jesus did was not merely "for us" in the

sense that we are uninvolved spectators. When Jesus died and

was raised, thus conquering death, the effects of His victory are

not only FOR us -- but IN us.

     The Bible speaks much about "Christ in us, the hope of glory."

(see Col. 1:27) But it also speaks much about us being IN CHRIST.

In fact, the phrase "being in Christ" is quite indicative of exactly how

we share in His finished victory.

     Paul says it best in Romans. He says:

Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that just as

Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even

so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been

planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the

likeness of His resurrection. Knowing this, that our old man is

crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that

henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed

from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall

also live in Him. Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead

dies no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that He

died, He died unto sin once: but in that He lives, He lives unto God.

Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin,

but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom. 6:4-11)

     The words "planted together" literally mean "to cause to grow

together." They picture an "engrafting." Thus, to be "in Christ"

means to be part of Him -- and thus -- to share in everything He did

with regard to life and death. Just as the branches share the life

processes of the Vine.

     What this means is what the Bible says many other places: His

victory is our victory. Death may take our body, but it cannot touch

the rest of us. And even that body will be raised anew on the day

appointed by the Father.

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