At this time of year, the world puts forth all the things that it considers scary, but they all have to do with the first death, the separation of our souls from our bodies. No wonder that this experience and the unknown surrounding it are the ultimate in fear for those who have no hope. But what is the first death to a Christian? After all, every human being will experience this death. As one humorist quipped about life: none of us will get out of it alive! Paul said it best in Philippians 1:21, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Gain? How did he get to that point? By knowing what to fear.
I. Matthew 10:16-35. As Jesus sends His disciples out into the world, He admits that He sends them out like sheep among wolves. Not having the same power as God in the flesh, how was it that they were to combat the strength of the world? By rejoicing, persevering, and trusting in God (Philippians 4:4-7). Being anxious about circumstances of this temporary existence that could only lead to their first death would show that they feared the one who could only kill the body–and they are reassured that the Lord is at hand.
II. Ecclesiastes 12:12-13. Rather than fearing anything that might bring about the separation of our souls from our bodies, we should fear the one who can throw both body and soul into hell. This verse in the middle of the Matthew 10 passage is often used by itself to mean we should fear Satan, but God alone is our Judge. His judgment will part the saints and sinners right and left, the conquerors to eternal life and the cowardly to the second death, an eternal separation of their souls from God (Revelation 21:6-8). It is no wonder, then, that rather than being scared or worried about the things of this life, our whole duty here is to fear God and keep His commandments.
III. Matthew 25:1-13. Consequently, our time here is all about preparing for eternity. Judgment Day will come when all will have to give an account to God. Rather than any suspenseful music you might hear coming from a horror movie or costume party, the scariest song is “There’s a Great Day Coming” because it speaks of the second death (Matthew 7:21-23) and challenges us in our preparation now, especially the third stanza:
There’s a sad day coming, a sad coming,
There’s a sad day coming by and by,
When the sinner shall hear his doom, “Depart, I know ye not.”
Are you ready for that day to come?