With the death of Christ, the sinless Son of God, death itself became subject to death, for in the death of Christ, death became a transgressor. How did this come about?
From the beginning, our holy God has had a settled hatred of all sin. Sin, all sin, is an offense against the holiness of God and represents cosmic treason against the Holy One, the Creator God. Thus in the beginning, the LORD God appointed death as the appropriate end of all who sinned. In this sense, death became the obedient servant of the LORD, because the LORD demanded death as punishment for sin and death dutifully obeyed. As such, death could make a legal claim on any and every human being who sinned. In fact, death was appointed by God to carry out that role. God had told Adam, “The day you eat of it (the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil), you SHALL SURELY DIE.” When Adam and Eve sinned, therefore, according to God’s command and according to His word, death staked its claim on the first two humans. “Through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin . . . (Romans 5:12).” Because of God’s decree and Adam’s sin, death entered the world. “Death reigned from Adam until Moses even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam (Romans 5:14).” And death reigned because all had sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). As soon as any human being transgressed for the first time in their life, they became subject to death and death could legally claim that person. When death claimed anyone who sinned, death was, in essence, being obedient to the role for which God had appointed it. “The soul that sins, it shall die (Ezekiel 18:4).” “The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).” “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all unrighteousness . . . (Romans 1:18).” “Transgressors will be altogether destroyed (Psalm 37:38).” Yes, death had a divine command from God to take all who sinned. As such, death was the dreaded, faithful servant of the LORD God, obediently taking away all sinners in death.
But there came a day when death overstepped its bounds and did that which it had no divine command to do. For when Christ came, He lived a sinless life. The Lord Jesus Christ never transgressed the Law of God even one time. He perfectly obeyed the Law of the Lord in His every thought, word and deed. The word of God testifies to the sinlessness of Jesus Christ. “He (God the Father) made Him WHO KNEW NO SIN (Jesus) to be sin on our behalf (2 Cor. 5:21).” Peter declares that Jesus was the One “WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, nor was any deceit found in His mouth (1 Peter 2:22).” The author of Hebrews says, “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, YET WITHOUT SIN (Heb. 4:15).” Of course Jesus Himself was aware of His own perfect obedience, for in a dialog with His adversaries (John 8:46) He said, “Which one of you convicts Me of sin?” After this question there was no response, because Jesus had no sin of which He could be convicted. In his first epistle, the apostle John says, “And you know that He appeared to take away sins; AND IN HIM THERE IS NO SIN (1 John 3:5).” The conclusive witness of Scripture is that Jesus Christ had no sin.
So “the wages of sin is death” and “the soul that sins, it shall die,” but what is to be done with this Jesus Christ, for He has no sin? The theological fact is that, since Jesus was not a sinner and had lived a sinless life of perfect obedience, death had no claim on Jesus. God had commanded death to take all sinners, but God had given death absolutely no right to claim a man who had never sinned. For death to take a sinner was for death to be obedient to its divinely appointed role, but for death to take a sinless man was for death to transgress. And so when death claimed the sinless Son of God, death overstepped its divinely ordained bounds. Thus in the moment that death took Jesus Christ away, in that exact moment death became a transgressor. Death sinned in taking away a sinless, innocent Man, and so death, as a sinner, became unrighteous and thus was subject to God’s wrath (Romans 1:18). In the death of Christ, death itself became subject to death, for “the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23)” and “transgressors will be altogether destroyed (Psalm 37:38).” Do you see what Christ has accomplished? He fulfilled the Law of God perfectly and thus became our source of imputed righteousness (Isaiah 61:10; Jeremiah 23:6). He died on the cross to pay the death penalty (Romans 3:25) for all who would believe on Him. He destroyed the works of the devil by robbing death of any fear (1 John 3:8; Heb. 2:14-15). But here in this study we have also seen that by allowing death to take Him, He condemned death to death. Now because of the death of Jesus, death must surely die. And we see this brought to pass at the end of time: “And death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14).” Death will be thrown into the lake of fire because of the sinless life and the death of Jesus Christ. SDG rmb 4/12/2016
One thought on “The Day Death Became a Transgressor”
I had never realized this and you explained it very well. I knew death had no more power but didn’t know why.