A Matter of Life or DeathBy: Joseph H. Murray
“Where there is no sin, there is no death.”
“In the way of righteousness is life: and in the pathway thereof there is no death” (Prov. 12:28).
“But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (James 1:14–15). But in John 8:51, Jesus told the Pharisees, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.”
“By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God” (Heb. 11:5). And, it is by this same faith we can please God and escape death. “But without faith it is impossible to please Him” (Heb. 11:6).
Jesus said again in John 5:24, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” “He that heareth my word” here means to adhere to in strict obedience or to be extremely devoted.
Where there is sin, there is condemnation. Condemnation is a shadow of death over the life of a sinner. But the culmination of this is death. In this same manner, the blessings of high elation that we feel for our faith toward God are a shadow of life eternal, and this climax is life itself.
We are told in the Proverbs that, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof” (Prov. 18:21). If we love life, we will order our conversation aright, but if we love death, our conversation will be perverse and vulgar. So, it is an open door before us. “Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I set before you the way of life, and the way of death” (Jer. 21:8).
The apostle Peter tells us, “For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eshew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it” (1 Pet. 3:10–11).
The wise man of the Proverbs wrote us these words: “For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the LORD. But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death” (Prov. 8:35–36).
We can find in the Scripture where we stand with God and man. “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid His life down for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from Him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him” (1 John 3:14–19).