“As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more. But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.”
His days are like grass
The realization of the futility of life can overwhelm and debilitate even the strongest of men. Even King Solomon, in all his pomp and all his wealth, wrestled with the emptiness of life.
- Ecclesiastes 2:4-11; “I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees. I bought male and female slaves, and had slaves who were born in my house. I had also great possessions of herds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem. I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I got singers, both men and women, and many concubines, the delight of the children of man. So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was
vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.”
And the result of Solomon’s striving to find purpose in life?
- Ecclesiastes 2:17; “So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me, for all is vanity and a striving after wind.”
The scriptures are not silent about the brevity of life.
- Psalms 39:4-5; “O LORD, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!”
- Psalms 62:9; “Those of low estate are but a breath; those of high estate are a delusion; in the balances they go up; they are together lighter than a breath.”
- Psalms 144:4; “Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.”
- Psalms 102:11; “My days are like an evening shadow; I wither away like grass.”
- Job 8:9; “For we are but of yesterday and know nothing, for our days on earth are a shadow.”
- 2 Samuel 14:14a; “We must all die; we are like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again….”
But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting
In contrast to the fleeting nature of our days on this earth is the steadfast love of the Lord. His love endures forever. His mercy lasts eternally. His grace will never end. This is good news for us if we are gripped with the vanity of life like Solomon was. Because in His steadfast love, God has made a way for us to live eternally in His presence where there is joy forevermore.
- 1 Peter 1:23-25; “You have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for ‘All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.’ And this word is the good news that was preached to you.”
The good news about Jesus Christ has been preached to us; that is, that through faith in His name we are forgiven of all our sin, made completely righteous in His sight, and born again to a living, eternal hope. All flesh is as short-lived as grass, but this word of His grace is forever. Through this abiding word we who believe have been born again to an imperishable hope. We will not die. We will go on living with Him for all eternity.
- John 11:25-26; “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?'”
- 1 John 5:10-12; “Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”
Do you believe this?
Do you believe that God has provided us His Son so that we may have life? If so, then death has no power over you. The debilitating knowledge of the brevity of life is swallowed up in the immortality promised to those who believe.
- Hebrews 2:10-15; “For it was fitting that [God], for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation [Jesus Christ] perfect through suffering. For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, saying, ‘I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.’ And again, ‘I will put my trust in him.’ And again, ‘Behold, I and the children God has given me.’ Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself [Jesus] 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.”
- 1 Corinthians 15:51-57; “Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ ‘O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
“But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”
Jesus told us, “Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Paul modeled this attitude. In Philippians he said, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain;” Philippians 1:21.
There are those today and those through history who have died because of their faith in Christ. Paul, along with thousands of others, have embraced the opportunity to lay down their lives for the one who first died for them. They counted it joy to suffer for Jesus’ name in order to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
For us 21st century American, to live for Christ doesn’t necessarily mean being persecuted and killed. Nevertheless, Jesus’ words are no less relevant to us: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” (Luke 9:23-25).
Living for Christ requires a forfeiture of self. Living for Christ requires the kind of attitude Paul had: “I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself.” It’s a renewal of perspective, a reversal of priorities: counting the things of the kingdom of God and its King of more importance than my own desires and plans.
- Romans 14:7-9; “For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.”
- 2 Corinthians 5:14-15; “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
In Psalm 124, David said, “If it had not been the LORD who was on our side–let Israel now say–if it had not been the LORD who was on our side when people rose up against us, then they would have swallowed us up alive;” Psalms 124:1-3. If the Lord was not with us, we would have every reason to sink with dismay; we would have every reason to be disquieted, to be disheartened, to feel dejected, to lose our courage. Without God, we would be swallowed alive.
- Psalms 40:11-13; “As for you, O LORD, you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me! For evils have encompassed me beyond number; my iniquities have overtaken me, and I cannot see; they are more than the hairs of my head; my heart fails me. Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me! O LORD, make haste to help me!”
He is a very present help in trouble. We can run to Him and be safe. We may approach His throne of grace freely and with boldness in our time of need. He is with us to strengthen us, to help us, to uphold us with His righteous right hand.
- Psalms 56:1-4; “Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me; all day long an attacker oppresses me; my enemies trample on me all day long, for many attack me proudly. When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?”
- Psalms 56:10-13; “In God, whose word I praise, in the LORD, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me? I must perform my vows to you, O God; I will render thank offerings to you. For you have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.”
- Psalms 27:1-5; “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall. Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident. One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple. For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock.”
In Jesus Christ we have assurance of God’s perpetual presence. We have the covenant sealed in His blood: the forgiveness of sins, life everlasting. We stand justified–innocent, righteous–before Him and completely sure that He will never abandon us. He who did not withhold His only Son to purchase our redemption–He who did not withhold His only Son in order to reconcile us to Himself–how shall He glibly forsake the sheep of His fold? We know God is for us; so then, who can be against us?
- Romans 8:31-39; “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised–who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Fear not, He is with us. He is our God. He will strengthen us. He will help us. He will uphold us.
“Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine.”
On those who fear him
Verse 13 of this same chapter says the Lord sees everyone. He knows everything. He is aware of all circumstances. In Matthew’s gospel were even told He blesses both the evil and the good alike.
But for those who fear him, those who hope in his steadfast love, they can trust in the certainty of the promise: he will deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine.
Deliver their soul from death
It’s not that those who trust the Lord will never physically die. However, we have the eternal hope of life after death. Our soul shall never die.
- John 11:25-26; “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?'”
- John 5:24; “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”
- 1 Peter 1:3-6; “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials,
And keep them alive in famine
We rejoice in God and our hope of eternity, though now for a little while, if necessary, we have been grieved by various trials. As the hymn writer sang, “Whatever my lot, though hast taught me to say, it is well, it is well with my soul!” We don’t have a promise of never going through famine, but of being protected in it. We don’t have a promise to never endure any hardship, we have the assurance that the Lord will always be with us in them.
Just ask Job.
- Job 1:21; “He said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.'”
- Job 13:15; “Though he slay me, I will hope in him.”
Just ask Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
- Daniel 3:17-18; “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
The eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine. When we go through times of trial on this earth, we can rejoice that the Lord has delivered our soul from death and that He promises to sustain us in difficult times. Whatever ill this life can throw at us, we know God is with us.
- Romans 8:35-39; “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
1 Thessalonians 2:13
“We also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.”
You received the Word of God
If we have received the written word of God, or the spoken word of God, what we have received is the Living Word: Jesus Christ. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. …And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Jesus Christ is the Word of God. Receiving Him has caused us to pass from death to life and has given us a new birth into His family.
- John 1:11-13 “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”
- 1 Peter 1:23 “You have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.”
- 1 John 5:1 “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God….”
Which is at work in you believers
We have been born, not of a perishable seed, an inanimate seed, or a lifeless seed, but of the imperishable, living word of God. He is at work in us.
- Philippians 2:13 “It is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
- Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
- Hebrews 13:21 “[May the God of peace] equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever.”
“Sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.”
I’ve heard it said, “The greatest trick the devil ever played was convincing the world that he didn’t exist.” I’m half inclined to say that’s true. But amongst the church, I would say a far greater deceit would be the lie that we have no power, no strength, no ability to stand against the power of sin and the wiles of the devil.
Sin will have no dominion over you
The devil does not want you, Christian, to know the truth about sin. Sin has no dominion over you. You are not a slave to it. You are not obligated in any way to indulge in it. You are free from its reins.
- Romans 6:3-14 “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.”
- John 8:34-36 “Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.'”
As long as we still consider ourselves weak and powerless against sin, we will remain enslaved and obedient to it. That’s why Satan does not want you to know about your freedom. He does not want you to believe that whom the Son sets free will be free indeed. He knows that if you realize this and walk in your freedom, exercising your right as a child of God to submit yourself to the Lord as an instrument of righteousness, he will have no stronghold over your life.
You are not under law but under grace
1 Corinthians 15:56 says, “The power of sin is the law.” Sin gets it’s strength in the unattainable requirements of the law. Paul says it this way: “If it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet.’ But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me;” Romans 7:7-11.
Satan does not want you to know that you have been freed from the law through faith in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He wants you to think you are still held hostage by its demands. For if you are still under the law sin is still strong and grace is ineffectual to you.
- Galatians 3:10-14 “For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.’ Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’ But the law is not of faith, rather ‘The one who does them shall live by them.’ Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’—so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.”
- Colossians 2:13-15 “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.”
Through faith in Jesus Christ we have been freed from the law. He bore our curse to redeem us. Having redeemed us, He gave us the Spirit. He forgave us all trespasses and disarmed all rulers and authorities. We are dead to sin and alive to God.
Satan does not want you to know this.
Satan wants you to think you’re weak. Satan wants you to think the legal demands of the law still stand against you. He knows that if you consider yourself a helpless victim, you will continue to be enslaved. Oppression by the hand of a weak bully is only as strong as the mind of the subjacent who has been deceived.
Here’s what God wants you to know: you have His Holy Spirit. Through Him, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.” Everything we need for life is in Him. Everything we need for godliness is in Him. We have His fruit, we have His life, we have His strength. Now let us walk as those who have passed from death into life, no longer presenting ourselves as weak, helpless slaves to unrighteousness, but presenting ourselves as strong, emboldened, empowered servants of Christ.