Los Alamos Church of Christ

Let the Word Dwell

#30 Hebrews 2:15

Delivered from Death

 

Let’s begin this morning by reading the familiar, yet disturbing, story of Adam and Eve’s… sin.

 

ESV Genesis 3:1-9 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God actually say, 'You shall not eat of any tree in the garden'?"  And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, 'You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'"  But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."  So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.  Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.  And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.  But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, "Where are you?"

 

“Where are you?”  What a disturbing question.  I imagine, every other evening when God appeared to walk in the Garden, Adam and Eve would have bounded out of nowhere to tell their Father all they had done that day.  They would have told God what new discoveries they had made…

--“Here is this new animal we named it, ‘aardvark’”;

--“Have you tasted this new fruit it puckers your mouth up”;

--“Last night we saw this star fall out of the sky.  It was gorgeous.” 

--Every evening they would have shared all they did throughout the day like kindergarten kids sharing their first day of school with their mom.

But on this evening, when God appeared… Adam and Eve did not.  God called for them but they were ashamed.  They were hiding. 

 

And everything changed…

--Satan won a terrible victory.

--Sin broke their precious relationship with the Father.

--Death entered the world.  Adam and Eve were going to die

 

This is amazingly sad.  We can easily feel the heaviness of God’s heart as he tells them the consequences of their sin.  God shuts them out of the Garden.  But even as he turns them out, he makes them clothes.  God still loves them.  But, everything has changed. 

 

That is the way it stayed for 1,000s of years. 

--Satan kept on winning victory after victory.

--Sin continued to destroy relationships.

--Death ruled with a cruel hand.  All who were born into this world died in this world.

 

But then, - my favorite two words – But then, everything changed, again.

 

#25 Philippians 2:6 Who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped.

 

#9 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,

 

 

#21 Ephesians 2:6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

 

 

Satan was winning, Sin had been destroying, Death continued killing… But then Jesus came to this world and died on the cross and rose to live again and ascended to the right hand of God.

 

The cross reversed the fall.  The cross began to undo what for millennia our 3 enemies had accomplished.  Satan, Sin and Death, were defeated by Jesus. 

--The cross of Jesus brought forgiveness of sins.

--The resurrection reversed death.

--The ascension vindicated Jesus over Satan!

Our 3 enemies were defeated.

 

Wow!  You can say… Wow, if you need to.

 

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As we work toward #30 in the Memory Challenge, I want to expand our view of what Jesus did for us… I want to work on this diagram.  This is a bit complicated.  So, focus up. 

 

Beginning with Satan, going clockwise we understand…

--Satan tempted Adam and Eve to sin. 

--Adam and Eve sinned, which led to death. 

--Death gives Satan more leverage over us to cause us to sin more.

--Which empowers Satan tempt us more.

--Which cause more death and more destruction.

…around and around it goes… Our 3 enemies wage this circular war against us. 

 

This is interesting it also works going counter-clockwise.  Beginning with sin and going counter-clockwise…

--Sin puts us under the control/influence/power of Satan.  The more we sin the deeper Satan gets his claws into us. Sin puts us under the manipulations of Satan.

--Satan uses the reality of our death to defeat us. 

--Which leads us to more sin, as we struggle to find meaning.

--Which Satan uses to destroy us more,

…Around and around we go, where we stop Satan knows. 

 

This concept of our Death and Satan working together to enslave us, leads us to our memory verse for this week. 

 

It is found in Hebrews chapter 2.

 

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

 

Because we are made of flesh and blood, pinch yourself, you are flesh and blood; which hurts and gets old and dies. Because that is who we are Jesus had to be like us.  Jesus became human.  He did not hold onto his goodness, but became human; flesh and blood and DNA like us.

 

Continue… that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,

 

Ironically, Jesus who is human had to die in order to destroy death and destroy the devil.  Through the death of Jesus and the ensuing resurrection Jesus killed death and the devil. 

 

Continue… and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.

 

This is the phrase I want to make sure we understand.  The fear of death leads to our third enemy… sin/slavery.  Let’s camp here and think about this.

--Humans are afraid of death. I’m talking generic humans, not Christians.  Humans attempt to avoid death.  Which is a good thing.  But can lead to sin. 

--In the Zombie Apocalypse, when there is not enough food to eat, or resources to stay alive… humans can become amazingly selfish.  Everyone gets a gun.  Board up the windows.  Shot anything that moves.  We are going to stay alive, even if we have to kill everything else to do it.  When it comes to dog eat dog, we become anything but loving.  Our fear of death can lead to amazing selfishness. 

--In this type of setting we can understand how the fear of death can lead to sin.  Selfishness rules during the Zombie Apocalypse. 

 

But the fear of death can also lead to slavery in times of plenty.  Most of us don’t worry about starving.  In fact we have the opposite problem… we eat too much.  Here is where I want us to think.  The knowledge that we are going to someday die, can lead humans (not Christians) to selfish behavior. 

--Humans’ obsession with making gazillions of dollars can be a desire to prove that we will somehow leave our mark in this world.  Tons of money could transcend our death.  This unhealthy desire can lead to amazing selfishness… sin.

--Humans’ obsession with accomplishment can be based in cheating death.  So, we do all kinds of ridiculous things.  We compete.  We do death defying acts to prove we are not afraid of death.  The Guinness book of World records attests to our desire for immortality.  “If we win the Ultimate Championship we will be immortalized forever in the Hall of Fame.”  We attempt to prove we are bigger than death.  We do amazingly obsessive things to prove we are supreme.  This can lead to sin.   

--We worry about living significant lives in the face of death.  We fear being a failure. We want to make a lasting difference.  What if we live our whole lives and nobody remembers us.  “I want my great-grandchildren to remember me.”  So, I do obsessive things. 

--Success is all that matters.  We must be successful at all costs!  We become compulsive, fanatical, infatuated with proving we are bigger than death.

--Our fear of the reality of death can lead us to obsessively, selfish behavior… lifelong slavery.

 

Here is #30 memory verse…

 

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#30 Hebrews 2:15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.

 

 

Tree List…

 

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We have 3 enemies which work together to destroy us; Satan, Sin and Death.  From the Fall until the Cross, these 3 have created this cycle of slavery.  But Jesus destroys his evil trifecta.

 

Starting with the Cross and going clockwise…

--In the forgiveness of the cross, Sin does not lead to death.  We have been justified by faith.

--In the defeat of Death, by the resurrection, Death no longer places us under the control of Satan.  We have every spiritual blessing in Christ.

--Satan no longer has the power to destroy us with Sin.  Jesus is on the throne of Power.  We are raised up with him.

 

Starting with Cross and going counter-clockwise. 

--Sin does not put us under the power of Satan; there is no condemnation. 

--Satan no longer can threaten us with death; He will transform this lowly body to be like his glorious body. 

--Death does not lead us to sin because we will be raised imperishable, we shall all be changed! 

 

Say Wow again!  The cross, the resurrection and the Ascension destroys our three enemies!

--Satan has been defeated.

--Sin has been forgiven… relationships are being restored.

--Death, the last enemy, will soon be destroyed at his coming!

 

The promise here is that… in this moment and in every moment we can experience resurrection, our lives liberated from the slavery of death. Through his resurrection, we are no longer self-interested survival machines driven by fear, pushed and pulled by our survival instincts. Neither are we neurotically chasing an illusory vision of “success” as an attempt to matter in the face of death. Rather, by dispossessing ourselves in baptism, by denying ourselves and taking up the cross of Jesus, we ground our identities in Christ alone and count everything else as “rubbish.” And in doing this —in dying to the world—death loses its hold on us, loses its moral traction to scare or shame us. Death has been defeated in the midst of our lives and Jesus’ resurrected life becomes tangibly present within our own. Slavery to the fear of death has been exchanged for the freedom and capacity to love.            -- Richard Beck… “The Slavery of Death”

 

Say Wow then repeat #30…

 

#30 Hebrews 2:15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.

 

 

Tim Stidham

August 9, 2015

Los Alamos Church of Christ