“The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:56-7)
Through the law that God gave to Moses, knowledge of sin came into the world. Sin existed before the law, but man did not know it clearly as sin, because it had not heretofore been defined. After the law was given, man could not use ignorance as an excuse. Therefore the law strengthened sin (gave sin power over man) and condemned sinners.
After the law, every man died a sinner – therefore was stung by death, because there was no way out of the estrangement from God that death brought. The law showed man what he would have to be to earn salvation. Since no man is perfect, mankind needed to be rescued from this impossible situation. God provided His Son, our Savior. Jesus was perfect, but willingly died to pay the penalty for our sins. Those who become a part of Jesus through Baptism and grow in His Image through a sacramental life become by grace what He is – guilt-free, sinless. A sacramental life includes participating in Eucharist regularly as an outgrowth of continually trying to live a Christ-like life, sincerely repenting for and trying to change weaknesses and failures.
For those who are guilt-free through Christ, death has lost the despair it once had. They are not “stung” by death: they will only pass through it. In fact, those who truly believe that there is life after death can see that death is actually a blessing if it is looked upon as a merciful end to the ravages of injury, disease and aging that life in our fallen world can bring. If there were no death, life in this world would ultimately lead to continual pain and suffering.
We owe thanks, praise and worship to God, who, through His Son provided for us this victory over the sting of death.
“The Christian Life In the Early Church
and Today According to St. Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians”