The paradox of death

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There is something intriguing about a paradox. It doesn’t make sense at first, but there’s a kind of fascination with attempting to analyze it and see how the puzzle pieces fit together.

Many of the paradoxes introduced by Jesus in scripture are not only mysterious but are downright confusing. How is it that the last shall be first? Why must you lose your life in order to find it?

A dumbfounding paradox

Perhaps the most defining paradox we see is the notion that death leads to life. The old becomes new. As human beings walking the planet, we can very well attest to the fact that life leads to death. The new eventually turns to old, and what is alive eventually dies. The idea of death leading to life and the old becoming new go against the very fabric of our human nature.

“In each of these verses it is very apparent that Christ brings life while the self brings death.

 But they also point to faith (Check out 2 Corinthians 5:17, Ephesians 2:4-5, 4:22-24, Colossians 3:3 and Galatians 2:20, to name a few verses on this!).

In every area of Scripture where these notions are mentioned, there is a formula given explaining how life is attained and how death will be the default if life does not purposely prevail over it. In each of these verses it is very apparent that Christ brings life while the self brings death.

This paradox is truly dumbfounding.

We all know that once something dies, it is dead. People normally don’t look into a casket with anticipation that their loved one will suddenly open their eyes and rise up again. There is a resignation that comes with death—we understand its finality.

As Christians, we know we have an eternal hope. But as humans, even this eternal hope does not remove the overwhelming grief and sadness brought on by death. Why is that? A part of us does rejoice when a believer is taken to heaven, but we’re also held captive by the searing pain of loss (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

Here is the bottom line: Even in our acceptance that death is a part of life, we know deep down in the core of who we are that death was never meant to be.

Many deaths

We were made with eternity written upon our hearts. Life was always supposed to triumph. Everything within us resists the sting of death and is devastated by it. We’re wired to be drawn toward life and to be repelled by death.

And yet death is what is asked of us. If we are to grasp the abundant, eternal life offered to us, death is first required.

And not just physical death.

Throughout the course of a lifetime a person will die many deaths. There is the initial spiritual death we die when we enter into sin, and there is the final death within the flesh that leads to eternity. However, there are many commands to actively die and put to death the flesh.

Because of the natural response to death, these are not easy to accept. Death brings loss, pain, heartache, withdrawal, even denial.

“Death calls for a divine humility of trust at the feet of Jesus that our understanding is not to be compared with His.

There is often a ripping and tearing away at the heart that can sometimes feel physical. But there is always an exposition for why the death is necessary. “…if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.” Romans 8:13


Over and over and over again these paradoxes flood the Scriptures, paving the way toward True Life. The Life that is only reached through Death (1 Corinthians 15:36).

Nothing about this can be easily received with the limited, fallen, human brain in each of our heads. There is no rationalization behind it. It calls for a divine humility of trust at the feet of Jesus that our understanding is not to be compared with His. And that each death we die has a reason, a purpose.

“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” John 12:24-25

In the same way that a single living seed can only remain singular, resisting these necessary deaths will only limit us in the hands of God. “But IF it dies, it produces many seeds.”  The very act of death ushers in new life; a newness that could never have been found otherwise. A life that is incomparable to the life before that death.

Seeking true life

Sometimes this newness of life is a brand new life from the former. Sometimes it is a resurrection of that life, more glorious and beautiful than before. This picture is very clearly painted with the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.  

Christ is our ultimate example of the death that must be allowed to die in order for the fullness of life to be a flourishing, resurrected reality. Whatever His choosing—resurrection or a brand new different giving of life—we will always be more satisfied in the newness of life He brings from that death. For He is that Life.

We have yet to face a challenge more daunting than this—to seek the Life that

Will you allow the death of self in order to have the fullness of life? The flourishing, resurrected reality that only comes from Christ? He is our ultimate example #tounearth #deathofchrist #deathofself #deathvslife
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is truly life. To seek the face of God in the midst of death. And to know that no matter the pain of those losses, the gain will always prevail over that loss. This is where the rubber meets the road. This is where the proof exists and we can know who we really serve: ourselves or our Lord Jesus Christ.

No matter to what degree we are asked to die deaths upon this earth, we can place our hope and security in the One who will one day kill Death itself, once and for all.

“Death has been swallowed up in victory… thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:54, 57

“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. Then He who was seated on the throne said ‘Behold, I make all things new.'” Revelation 21:4-5

He does not leave us as we are.

Let’s Talk About It: How do you seek life and die to yourself each day? 





20 Replies to “The paradox of death”

  1. Indeed, the gain will always prevail over the loss. I grew up being taught that death was just the next step and not to fear it. We mourn it but don’t fear it.

  2. Yes! This can be such a hard lesson. We have to give up and die to our own desires and self-seeking interests for God’s path which is bound in His infinite wisdom. Rationally it’s a no -brainer but we can get so stuck in our ways.

    1. Isn’t it crazy how we can agree and desire to die to self in order to live for God, but then it’s so hard to actually put into practice?! I’m thankful for God’s forgiveness and guidance with this!

  3. Thank God for His undeniable grace! It certainly takes the sheer power of the Holy Spirit to put off the old man because it is hard. So encouraging to know we can count on the Lord to help us in this daily journey of faith. God is truly faithful.

    1. That is difficult to put into practice because of our selfishness, but so important! Knowing our time is not our own definitely helps us stay focused on how to live for God each day.

  4. It is so true…and opposite of our earthy thoughts…Death leads to Life and yet it does. Once I fully understood this …it is good news…the best news! But while still on earth there is much dying to self that must happen everyday. A difficult task but one worth it.

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