TODAY’S READING: JAMES
“But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (James 1.14-15)
Jesus became a man so that through his own death he could destroy the devil. Hebrews 2.14-15 says, “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.”
Jesus’ death and resurrection launched his reign, and he will reign until all his enemies, even death, have been defeated. First Corinthians 15.25-26 says, “For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”
So, Jesus is going to destroy the one who has the power of death. And, Jesus is going to destroy death itself.
Therefore, how might Jesus destroy death?
Here is one way Jesus could destroy death.
Those that do not believe in Jesus are those that are under control of the devil, who has the power of death. Because these people are under the control of the devil, they bring death to others. If Jesus brought all these unbelievers together in one place with the devil, say in a great end time battle, then he could destroy, kill, all these unbelievers and the devil. This would destroy death.
Although, Jesus would have had to bring death to many, many people in order to destroy death.
To me, it seems like this scenario would have Jesus multiplying death and not destroying death.
But, there is another way Jesus might destroy death.
Where does death come from?
James 1.14-15 says, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.”
Death is the fruit, the maturation, of sin.
Sin is the child, the offspring, conceived by evil desires in our minds and our flesh.
James 4.1-3 says, “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire [ same Greek word used in 1.14-15] and do not have, so you murder, You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.”
Desires that are for our own pleasure are covetous and lead to murder, death.
But, love “does not insist on its own way.” (1 Corinthians 13.5) Or, love “does not seek its own.” (NASB) Or, love “is not self-seeking.” (NIV) Or, love “does not demand its own way.” (NLT) Or, love “is not selfish.” (HCSB) Or, love “is not self-serving.” (NET Bible)
Therefore, if Jesus wanted to destroy death without actually killing anyone, then he would need to destroy evil desires. Evil desires being those desires that seek something to spend it on ourselves instead of loving desires that seek to give something to others at the expense of ourselves.
Indeed, this is what we see Jesus doing in his own life.
At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus went into the wilderness was “being tempted by Satan,” (Mark 1.13) “the tempter.” (Matthew 4.3) In three different ways, Satan tempted Jesus, trying to lure and entice him by his own desire. Satan was tempting Jesus to act for his own selfish interest. But, Jesus resisted each of these temptations, not permitting these evil desires conceive sin in him. Because there was no sin in Jesus, sin could not mature and bring forth the fruit of death in Jesus.
At the end of his life, the night before he died, Jesus was in a garden praying. His prayer was so intense that his sweat was like blood. Jesus prayed that his Father remove the cup from him.”
What was Jesus praying?
Was Jesus praying that he would not have to go to the cross, forget this whole kingdom of God business, and go about a normal life like everyone else?
Or, was Jesus praying to fight the temptation to not go to cross but bring about the kingdom about through the death and destruction of Israel’s enemies that everyone thought the Messiah would bring?
I think it is more likely the latter. Jesus was praying that he would not be “lured and enticed by his own desire.” Jesus was praying that he would not give into temptation.
Indeed, in the garden that night, he told the disciples, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” (Luke 22.40) Instead of praying, the disciples kept falling asleep. And, the disciples ended up being “lured and enticed by [their] own desire.” “And when those who were around him saw what would follow, they said, ‘Lord shall we strike with the sword?’ And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear.” (Luke 22.49-50)
So, Jesus died to all selfish desires. Therefore, as Hebrews 2.14-15 says, through his own death, Jesus defeated Satan, who had the power of death.
Therefore, to destroy the last of his enemies, death, without causing death himself, Jesus simply needs to destroy evil, selfish desires within us. If he does this, sin cannot conceive and sin cannot mature into death.
Cut off evil desires and you destroy death.
Therefore, Paul says in 2 Corinthians 10.3-5, “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”
Therefore, Paul says in Ephesians 6.11-13, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.”
Therefore, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3.-12-15, “Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw – each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.”
The judgment of Christ is not a condemnation of death upon anyone. Jesus came to destroy death and the devil, who had the power of death.
Rather, the judgment of Christ is a purifying fire burns up all evil desires within us. Then, death is defeated and all will have life. In this way, Jesus will fulfill the single commandment his Father gave.
“For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment – what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.” (John 12.49-50)
Therefore, Paul can say to Timothy, “I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time.” (1 Timothy 6.13-15)
Jesus does not need, and will not, to kill anyone to destroy death.
To do so would be to create more death.
Instead, Jesus will destroy every evil desire so that no one can any longer be lured and enticed by them. Then, sin will no longer be able to conceive in anyone. Therefore, sin will not be able to mature into death.
How will Jesus destroy those evil desires in you?
Jesus will love you as much as it takes and as long as it takes for you to give up every selfish desire.
Death will be destroyed.