How to be Free from the Fear of Death
I have asked many people if they are afraid of dying. When they say they are, I know they are being honest and humble, and from that point they almost always listen to what I have to say. The reason I know they’re being honest is that the Bible says all of us are tormented by the fear of death all of our lifetime (see Hebrews 2:14,15). Some people dismiss this fear by believing they will be reincarnated and simply come back to earth as someone else. However, the Bible says, “It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27) Others believe they will just go to the grave and cease to exist. But God has put eternity in our hearts so we intuitively know there is something beyond this life.
Knowing that we have to die is like standing at the door of a plane 10,000 feet up and waiting to jump without a parachute. It is horrific. But imagine if someone gave you a parachute that you know was expertly packed by someone who loved you. What now is your attitude toward the jump? It has completely changed. Now you know that you’re not going to hit the ground at 120 mph on your face. Rather, you are going to land gently at 15 mph on your feet. Your faith in the parachute has allowed you to control your fears. You are no longer tormented by fear, because you know that the law of gravity no longer has power over you. God has provided a parachute in the Savior. But you’re not going to want to completely trust in Him. . . unless you realize you have to face a law that is far harsher than gravity.
As we look at this law, you may become a little fearful. Unpleasant though it may be, it will be good for you. Think of why you would put on a parachute—it’s because you will have to jump, and the fear makes you want to trust it. Fear in that case becomes your friend. That’s a very important point, so please keep that in mind. Do you know what death is, according to the Bible? It’s wages. Scripture says, “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Sin is so serious to God that He gives sinners the death sentence. It’s like a judge in a court of law who sentences a criminal to death for raping and viciously murdering three young girls. The criminal has earned the electric chair. This is what he deserves; it’s his wages. Let’s see what wages you will earn.
Do you think you are a good person? No doubt, like most of us, you do. How many lies do you think you have told in your life? Have you ever stolen something, even if it’s small? If you’ve done these two things, then you are a lying thief. Have you ever used God’s name in vain, either flippantly (including “OMG”) or as profanity? If you have, let me ask you if you would ever use your mother’s name as a cuss word. I’m sure you wouldn’t, because that would show you don’t respect her in the slightest. And yet you have used God’s holy name as a cuss word. That’s called “blasphemy,” and it’s very serious in God’s eyes. He promises that whoever takes His name in vain will not be guiltless. One more question. Jesus said that if we look with lust we commit adultery in our heart. Have you ever looked with lust at someone? If you’re normal, you have.
So here is a summation of your court case. You have admitted to being a lying, thieving, blasphemous adulterer at heart. So on Judgment Day, when God judges you by the Ten Commandments, are you going to be innocent or guilty? Guilty, of course. Will you therefore go to Heaven or Hell? The answer is that if you die in your sins, you have God’s promise that you will end up in Hell. The wages you’ve earned is the death sentence. The Bible says that all liars will be cast into the lake of fire, and no thief, no adulterer, and no blasphemer will inherit the kingdom of God.
Does that make you fearful? If it does, that is good. Fear is doing its beneficial work. It’s being your friend, not your enemy, by showing you that you need God’s mercy. You need a “parachute” before you pass on into eternity. It’s also humbling you so that you will be able to understand the good news of the gospel—that God offers you a parachute in Jesus Christ, the Savior. Here now is the good news: The Ten Commandments are God’s “moral Law.” You and I broke the Law, but Jesus paid the fine in His life’s blood. That’s what happened when He died on the cross. That’s why He said just before He died, “It is finished!” In other words, the debt has been paid in full. If you’re in court and someone pays your fine, the judge can let you go even though you are guilty. In doing so, he still does what is legal, right, and just. Does that make sense? Even though you are guilty, you are free to walk out of the courtroom, because someone has paid your fine. The Bible says, “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). God proved His great love for you through the cross. Then Jesus rose from the dead, and defeated the power of the grave.
It is because Jesus paid the fine for sin on the cross that God can dismiss your case. You can walk out of His courtroom on Judgment Day. He can commute your death sentence and legally let you live forever, all because Jesus paid the fine for sin in full on that cross. Does that make sense? He paid the fine, so you can be free from the penalty of death. God has made the way to find everlasting life so simple that a child can understand it. All you need to do is be honest and humble. You simply have to repent of your sins and trust in Jesus alone. Repentance means to turn from sin. You can’t say you’re a Christian and continue to lie, steal, and blaspheme God’s name. That would be to deceive yourself and play the hypocrite. Your repentance must be sincere to be genuine. Then you trust in Jesus alone, as you would trust in a parachute. You do what the Bible says to do—“put on the Lord Jesus Christ” (see Romans 13:14).
Remember, the moment you trusted in that parachute, you knew the law of gravity no longer had any power over you. In the same way, the moment you put your trust in Jesus for your eternal salvation, the moral Law has no power over you: For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:2) Does that make sense? If it doesn’t, reread what I’ve written until it does because this is so important. It’s where you will spend eternity. It’s the salvation of your soul, which is far more precious than your eyes. So today, repent and trust in Jesus, because the reality is, you may not have tomorrow. If you’re not sure how to repent, here is a model prayer of repentance, given to us in Scripture when King David had his sin exposed: Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight—That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge. (Psalm 51:1–4)
Whatever you do, don’t trust in your goodness to save you, as most people do. That’s like flapping your arms when you jump out of a plane. It’s not going to work. You’re not a good person; you’re like the rest of us. Transfer your trust from yourself to the Savior. We trust doctors and pharmaceutical companies when we take pills, cables when we step into an elevator, and pilots when we fly on planes. Doctors can make mistakes, elevators can let us down, and pilots sometimes make deadly mistakes. But God will never let you down. He is without sin, and because of that, the Scriptures tell us that it is impossible for Him to lie. Therefore, trust Him with all of your heart, right now. Please, don’t put it off for another second. Then make sure you pick up a Bible and read it daily, and obey what you read. Prayer is us talking to God, but reading the Bible is God speaking to us, and we need to be swift to hear and slow to speak. May God bless you and keep you.