WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
FEBRUARY 25, 2022
TOPIC: LIVING FOR CHRIST AND DYING IN HIM
BY T. O. BANSO
“For to me, to live is Christ [He is my source of joy, my reason to live] and to die is gain [for I will be with Him in eternity]” (Philippians 1:21 Amplified Bible).
Life is a gift. It is also stewardship. No matter how long someone lives whether he is born again or not, he will die one day. And then, he will give an account of what he has done while he was alive. Paul says in Romans 14:12 that every one of us shall give an account of himself to God. As Hebrews 9:27 says, it is appointed for men to die once but after this, the judgment.
Before death and judgment come, there is life to live on earth. It is useless to live in fear of death because nothing can stop it when the time for it comes. Hebrews 2:14-15 tells us that Christ, by His death and resurrection, has delivered those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. In other words, His death and resurrection set us free from the fear of death because He has defeated death. What is important is how we live our lives before we die. If we live as we should, we will not be afraid of death or the judgment that follows.
Revelation 20:12 says, “And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books” (New King James Version). On Judgment Day, the sea will give up the dead in it, and Death and Hades will deliver up the dead in them and they will be judged, each one according to his works (verse 13).
Anyone whose name is not found written in the Book of Life will be cast into the lake of fire (verse 15). Those who believe in Christ and die in Him will not be condemned on Judgment Day because their names are written in the Book of life.
The attitude of a child of God to life, death, and judgment should be different from that of unbelievers. Christians are supposed to live for Christ. If we live for Him, if we continue to abide in Him, we will not be afraid of death or dying. And we shall not be condemned on Judgment Day.
While Paul was in Roman prison, he wrote to the Philippian church that he lived in eager expectation and hope that he would never do anything that caused him shame, but that he would always be bold for Christ, as he had been in the past, and that his life would always honour Christ, whether he lived or died (Philippians 1:20).
Paul wanted Christ to be magnified in his body whether by life or death. In other words, he wasn’t afraid of death but wanted to live a life that would honour Christ in life or death. This should be the goal of every child of God.
Paul continued in Philippians 1:21: “For to me, to live is Christ [He is my source of joy, my reason to live] and to die is gain [for I will be with Him in eternity]” (Amplified Bible). The New King James Version says, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” The Bible in Basic English presents it thus: “For to me life is Christ and death is profit.” Did you see how Paul viewed death? He said that to live was Christ and to die was gain or profit.
His perception of death for a Christian contradicts that of many people. Many see death as a loss. Have you heard something like, “I lost my uncle yesterday” or similar phrases? Death is seen as a loss, probably, because the person who died would be missed. You must have heard it said before, “Earth’s loss is heaven’s gain”? That doesn’t mean that anyone’s death will make heaven better or the person who died would help to fill a vacancy in heaven they’ve been trying to fill! But Psalm 116:15 says, “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints” (NewKing James Version).
Paul said to die was gain or profit. The New Living Translation renders Philippians 1:21 thus: “For to me, living is for Christ, and dying is even better.” This version says that, in Christ, dying is even better than living. Live for Christ and die in Christ. Abide in Him to the end. He who endures to the end will be saved (Matthew 10:22b; 24:13; Mark 13:13b).
Like Paul, living for Christ should be your confession and your way of life also. What does “to live is Christ” mean? As explained by the Amplified Bible, it means that Christ is your source of joy; He is your reason to live. Why is to die “gain” and not “loss”? Again, the Amplified Bible tells us it is because those who believe in Christ will be with God in eternity. They will see Christ. Thus, death is a passage to eternity with God. Also, dying is gain because it ends the believer’s experience of troubles and sufferings in this world. The dead are free from all worldly trials and sorrows.
Paul wasn’t afraid of death because he lived for Christ. He was living a life of fruitful service for Christ but his mind was torn between going to meet Christ or continuing to live for Him. “For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again” (Philippians 1:23-26 New King James Version).
Live your life to honour Christ. Live your life according to His teachings. Live your life in fruitful service for Christ and you will have no need to be afraid of death. Whenever it comes, it will be a passage to eternity with God for you. Believers may die just as the unbelievers die but they don’t have the same end. They are not going to the same destination. The end of the unbeliever is everlasting fire while the end of the believer is everlasting life. “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels’” (Matthew 25:41 New King James Version).
In contrast, Jesus says, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life” (John 5:24 New King James Version). He also says in John 6:40 that the will of Him who sent Him is that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life, and He will raise him up at the last day. If you live for Christ and die in Him, you will be resurrected on the last day to spend eternity with God.
Let nothing hinder you from living for Christ. Paul said the things that were gain, important, or valuable to him, he counted loss or worthless because of Christ (Philippians 3:7). In other words, Christ became his first priority. “Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:8-11 New King James Version).
Take note of what Paul said in that scripture about knowing Christ. At this time, he had walked with Him for some years and made some exploits in his ministry. Yet, he wanted to know Him. There should be no complacency in our walk with God. Our devotion to Him should be total. Paul was determined to know Christ. He pressed on, that he might lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus had also laid hold of him (Philippians 3:12b). He forgot the things that were behind, reached forward to those things which are ahead, and pressed toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (verses 13-14).
In Ephesians 3, part of Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians church was to know the love of Christ which passed knowledge; that they might be filled with all the fullness of God (verse 19).
You must live for Christ, not yourself. In the words of Paul, you have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer you who live, but Christ lives in you; and the life which you now live in the flesh you live by faith in the Son of God, who loved you and gave Himself for you (Galatians 2:20). This is how you should live. As Paul also says in Romans 6:4, you were buried with Him through baptism into death, and just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so you also should walk in newness of life.
Live for Christ while you’re alive and you won’t be afraid of death or what happens after death. May you be able to say as Paul said: “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him” (2 Corinthians 5:8-9 New King James Version). Live for Christ and die in Him. “Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, ‘Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on’” (Revelation 14:13a New King James Version). You will live for Christ; you will die in the Lord.
Jesus says the thief does not come except to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10a). Satan will not be able to kill you. He will not cut short your life. You will not die before your time. Premature death is not your portion in Jesus’ name. God will fulfill the number of your days. You will live for Christ and die in Him.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner, and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner, and I cannot save myself. I believe Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Father, thank You for my salvation. In the name of Jesus, I shall live for Christ and die in Him. Everlasting life is my portion, not everlasting fire. I shall spend eternity with God; I shall not be cast into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels. Lord Jesus, I pray that I may know You and the power of Your resurrection, and the fellowship of Your sufferings, being conformed to Your death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Father, help all Your children to live for Christ and die in Him. Let them not draw back in Jesus’ name.
(For over 800 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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