“Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself 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” (Heb. 2:14-15, ESV).
One day, while I was in the middle of some non-devotional activity, Holy Spirit began to speak to my heart about this verse. (He loves to insert Himself into some of the most mundane things necessary to our daily routines! I really cherish this.) What He said that afternoon impacted my life in a significant way, and I think it will yours, too.
He explained to me that “the fear of death” does not exclusively refer to being afraid of dying. Although that is certainly an essential aspect of the meaning, there is more to it. “Death,” here is a comprehensive term also embodying the concept of everything harmful that resulted from the fall of man.
“The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). Have you sinned sometime since you were born? Of course you have. We all have. Are you dead? I would assume not, since you’re reading this. Clearly, then, “death” here means more than physically dying. It encompasses everything that happened to us and to the planet when Adam and Eve first disobeyed God. This includes:
- Natural disasters
- Demonic oppression
- Spiritual warfare
- Abandonment and neglect
- Relational strife
- Vicious gossip and slander
- Domestic violence
- Physical, emotional, verbal, and sexual abuse
- Violent crime
- Losing loved ones
I could go on and on. My point, though, is that every element on this list fits into the category of “death.” Everything ugly or painful that you have ever experienced in your entire lifetime does too. None of this was in Eden. None of it was what God longed to give us when He created a perfect paradise on the earth.
And these are the very things that the devil relentlessly tries to hang over our heads. This is where our concept “the fear of death” comes into play. Those four words could be broken down into just the one: fear. Fear is the way the enemy keeps people in slavery. The fear of betrayal. The fear of abandonment. The fear of rejection. The fear of losing loved ones. Plug in any item from the above list into the phrase, “The fear of __________.” All of it is a manifestation of the fear of death, in death’s plethora of shapes and sizes.
Jesus came… and died… and rose again… to set us free from absolutely all of it. Hebrews tells us that He came to destroy the one who has the power of death. Do you think He succeeded on His mission? He unequivocally did. He destroyed the devil and violently removed from his claws the keys of death.
Having vanquished the adversary, He is fully able – and passionately yearning – to “deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” Are you struggling with fear? You don’t have to be afraid any more. Jesus the Deliverer destroyed death, and all its vile counterparts, when He gave up His life for you. He is closer than the breath in your lungs, and He is ready to set you free. He is leaning in longingly, listening for your prayer. With childlike faith, ask and receive that which He already purchased for you… receive perfect liberty today!
“But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, ‘Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore… And I have the keys of Hades and of Death’” (Rev. 1:17b-18, NKJV).
Is there a specific aspect of the fear of death, from which God has delivered you? I’d love to hear your testimony of His goodness!