March 3, 2024 | Doug Sauder
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“I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’ ‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”—1 Corinthians 15:50–58 (NIV)
What does Paul mean when he says, “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable”? In John 3:3–6 (NIV), Jesus says, “No one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again . . . no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” Flesh and blood cannot inherit the eternal kingdom because they’re perishable, decaying, and corrupted by sin and death. Flesh can only give birth to flesh—the corruptible to the corruptible. But the Spirit, eternal and imperishable, gives birth to spirit.
In the beginning, the Holy Spirit breathed life into Adam, thus sealing Adam with the imago dei, the image and likeness of God. Adam and Eve were made to live forever, but when they sinned, they experienced spiritual death and were cut off from the imperishable.
They passed this curse on to all humanity until Jesus reversed the curse. When we receive Him, we’re born again. Our spirit is regenerated as God gives us the (Holy) Spirit “as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come [eternal life]” 2 Corinthians 1:22 (NIV).
Some believers will not experience physical death, but we will all be changed. There will be a final generation “who will be transformed into resurrection bodies at the return of Jesus before they ever face death” (Guzik). For the rest of us who die physically before then, we will be resurrected in “a new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1 NIV)—the imperishable and incorruptible!
On that glorious last day, Jesus’ final victory will be revealed as death will be swallowed up in victory and we’ll be able to declare, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” It’s gone! It’s been conquered and overcome by the blood of the Lamb!
This is the great culmination of what Paul has been saying in this section. He’s providing the Corinthians who had been deceived into doubting the resurrection from the dead with a beautiful preview of their future!
Because of Jesus, who “through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs,” we can now stand firm and let nothing move us because we have “the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:4–7 NIV, emphasis added).
Let’s key in on that word hope, which is misused a lot nowadays. It’s almost like wishful thinking. But the biblical word for hope is like an anchor for our souls, a certainty, a joyful and confident expectation. It’s not like, “I hope I inherit eternal life.” It’s a certainty that says, “I can’t wait to spend eternity with the same God and Savior who loves me, died for me, has made me alive, and has prepared a place for me in His kingdom as a beloved child and heir!”
This beautiful truth allows us to give ourselves “fully to the work of the Lord, because [we] know that [our] labor in the Lord is not in vain.” May this truth encourage you today and spur you to keep going and be all in!
Pause: How does the resurrection of Jesus give us hope for the future?
Practice: Consider how the hope of eternal life impacts not only the future but changes the way you live today.
Pray: Father, today I simply want to say THANK YOU for the salvation in which I now stand. Thank You for the work of Jesus and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, who brought me from death to life and gave me rebirth and renewal. Thank You for Your love, mercy, and kindness that led me to repentance. May this truth spur me to be fully devoted to Your work in me, through me, and in the world. Amen.
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.