The Fear of Death

Hebrews 2:15 tells us about Jesus, who, through His own death, might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. The author’s not writing about physical death (at least not ours), and he doesn’t mean human slavery – he has more crucial issues in mind. He’s referring to spiritual death, the kind of death that tears apart our innermost beings; he’s focusing on spiritual slavery, a slavery to sin. And when he says fear he’s pointing to the fear that makes us willing to disobey God.

I’ve pondered these words from Hebrews for some time because I (just like Paul in Romans 7) keep acting like sin’s slave. What trips me up? It’s my fear of death. It happens to us all. Let me explain.

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Death & Life at Chillon Castle

Chillon Castle near Montreux has the best – or worst – dungeons in the world. As you trace the steps of prisoners of yesteryear you’ll chill with a fascinating kind of horror. The doomed inmates entered the dungeons through a thick wooden trap door set into the castle floor, descended a rough wooden ladder, and found themselves in a small cave. Looming in the distance was the innermost cave and the pillars to which they’d be chained for years on end. But a strategically placed terror assaulted them as they walked towards their chains, for the middle cave was lined with gallows. Visions of those gallows must have commanded their days and invaded their dreams. Most would never walk past them, ascend the ladder and once again breathe fresh air. The guards? They walked out alive. Prisoners had no such assurance.

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An Obvious Aroma

I was meeting with someone who hated me. I had to meet with her – I knew that – but it took all I had just to show up. I hated the encounters as much as she did. And I was frightened by them. My heart pounded when I saw her; relief flooded me when she left. Relief … and discouragement. Our time together seemed a total waste. Then God gifted me with words which challenged my fears and changed my emotions. His words brought me courage; they gave me hope:

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