Sinners run backward toward an open grave, said Martin Luther, unable to face death but inevitably moving straight at it, trying to put it out of sight and out of mind with any diversion, and yet shuffling in reverse until the inevitable meeting occurs. Then the sudden tumble down.
And yet here we are on Good Friday, strange as we are as Christians, for the culturally bizarre practice of looking death straight in the face and even celebrating torturous bloodshed.
It is here, in death, that we not only meet the sacrifice of Christ, but here we unmask Satan’s power play over the world.
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. (Hebrews [2:14]–15)
Satan does not wield the sword of death at will. The wreckage of his hands is always limited by God (see Job [1:12]). No, the power Satan wields more freely is the fear of death. Satan is a slave-master who wields words and lies and threats of death to tyrannize and manipulate his subjects. His power is wielded most freely, not in the sword, but in the manipulative reminders he whispers in our ears.
Satan speaks in our ears the lies of an anti-Psalm 23: “As you walk through the pitch darkness of the valley of death, you live in dread of evil, for you are alone and unguided and uncomforted.”
But is this true?
Is This Friday Good?
How many of us think of death in a given day?
The reality is that very rarely do we think about death. We shuffle backwards to avoid the subject altogether.
Yet the fear of death is no less our slavery — lifelong slavery, a slavery that drives everything about our lives, including our addictions.
How many of our obsessions are attempts to repress the fear of death? “The point is not that people are enslaved to a constant, conscious fear of dying,” says John Piper, “but that they are enslaved to a thousand ways of avoiding this fear. They are enslaved to ‘the denial of death.’ ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die’ (1 Corinthians [15:32]) is not an exultation of true freedom, but another form of benumbing denial. Death looms as the great enemy. And we become its slaves in the illusory flight of denial” (Future Grace, 354).
In our denial of death, Satan steers our lives to consume a life of vain distractions and amusements to mute our mortality. It does not settle the issues; it pushes on us unsettling anxieties and worries about our future, and it leaves our deepest insecurities unalleviated.
Written by Tony Reinkie
Full story at Desiring God