Overcoming Sin and Death

By Lloyd Ellefson

Sin is the sting of death; when sin came death followed. (1 Cor. 15:56) Death operated in mankind from Adam to Moses, but there was no recognition or knowledge that of the cause of death was sin. There must have been a time when there was no sin, since sin entered the world through one man. (Rom. 5:12) The law brought the knowledge of sin, for previously this knowledge was lacking. (Rom. 3:20)

Jesus appeared and abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. (2 Tim.1:10) By abolishing death, He rendered "powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil". (Heb. 2:14) Jesus entering into death broke its power over man. Death had no power over God! As a man, Jesus became an offering for sin, took on death and broke its power. He defeated the devil who had obtained the power of death through deception. It is the world which lies in his power - but we are not of the world. It was God who said to Adam, that eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil would cause him to die. Therefore we know that power belongs to God.

Death had no power over, and in the victorious life of Christ. The trials and testings have come, and the Lord Jesus has won. He has emerged from death as a victor. This victory is not only for Him alone, but for all who partake of His life. They share in the certainty of a proven victory over death! As we focus on more details of this victory, it will undoubtedly increase our faith. The word must be embraced without doubting! Anything that looks like evidence to the contrary, even our feelings and reasonings must be subject to the very Word. Let us be believers.

"He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed." (1 Peter 2:24) He bore our sins IN His body - was He not without sin? How did our sins get IN His body? Furthermore, in 2 Cor. 5:21 it says that though He did not commit sin, He was made to be a sin offering. He was joined to sin, which is the sting of death. Many of the references to the devil, sin and death in the scriptures, compare the devil to a serpent, and his bite or sting of venom as death-producing. The serpent put up by Moses in the wilderness symbolized the death of the devil through the death of Jesus. (John 3:14)

Let's look at this event in Numbers 21:5-9. The Israelites had become impatient. The journey was long and the food was always the same, so they grumbled against God and Moses. Speaking against them was rebellion. So God sent fiery serpents among them. They confessed and asked for mercy. The Lord ordered Moses to construct a brass serpent as a means to escape the death. This symbolized Jesus becoming the one to take the curse of disobedience. All who had received the serpent's sting, then looked to the serpent got life. The serpent on the pole actually depicted the death or crucifixion of the serpent (devil) and his sting (sin). It was the Word of God that brought it forth and put an end to it. Yet Israel in blindness carried that brazen serpent along with them into the promised land and retained it as an idol for many years. It was finally destroyed during the reign of Hezekiah along with other images. (2 Kings 18:4) The serpent and death were first mentioned in Genesis 3. The curse testified that the serpent would bruise only the heel of the woman's seed, but the wounded foot of Christ would be the triumphant foot laid on the serpent's head. The serpent's power and government (head) would be hurt, but he would only cause a minor effect on the heel (walk) of Christ.

Moses had some experience in dealing with serpents. When the time came for Israel to be brought out of Egypt, God commissioned Moses to do this job. God had promised Abraham that after his descendants had been in Egypt for 400 years, they would be led out. The Lord addressed Moses with the question, "What is that in thine hand?" (Exodus 4:2) Moses had a rod. The Lord ordered him to cast it to the ground. When he did so, it became a serpent, and Moses ran. He was afraid! It was natural to be afraid, but God wanted to bring him into the supernatural or spiritual realm. The Lord then told Moses to take the serpent by the tail; as he did so it became a rod again. The rod of course is the Word of God and represents His authority. In symbolism, the Lord Jesus came down to the earth where He was cast down by men, became a sin-offering, and rose up to become the authority (rod) of God again.

When Moses and Aaron appeared in Pharaoh's court, Aaron cast the rod down and it became a serpent. This time the magicians and the wise men of Egypt cast down their rods and many serpents appeared, only to have the rod of Aaron swallow up their rods. The only authority of God (represented by the high priest, Aaron) swallowed up the many powers of the enemy. No wonder it is written "Death is swallowed up in victory". So in the new realm of spiritual realities in the new covenant we can take up serpents without harm. (Mark 16:18) We have power to tread on serpents - no longer can they bruise our heel - and all the enemy's power, and nothing can by any means hurt us. (Luke 10:19) We certainly are not talking about natural snakes. We will trust God to have authority over all things, but we will definitely not tempt God by asking Him to prove Himself.

Paul shook off a natural snake and suffered no harm. (Acts 28:3) How much more did our Lord take the sting of death in Himself and shook off the power of death by His trust in God. (Acts 2:24 and 32). He went into death as a man with the Spirit of God in Him. With His victory and resurrection accomplished he has given us that same Spirit. "But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you,He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you."(Rom.8:11) We have been infused with a living Spirit (in contrast to a sting - a bite of death). By an act of love we can drink of the fountain of life. Instead of being infected without consent by a deceiving act of evil, we have been called to come and drink a life-giving potion.
There is an appointment for men to die once - only once. That is the one death that Christ died for us. He died once, never to die again(Heb.9:27-28). He was once offered to bear sin, but with salvation. We need never to fear the consequence of sin - for sin has been dealt with - it has been disarmed. Now we must put away unbelief. We should take heed lest there be in us an evil heart of unbelief - departing from God (Heb.3:12). Let us receive the engrafted Word which is able to save us. (James 1:21)

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