Death, Decay and Eternity
1 Peter 1:24,25 All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.
I learned, two days ago, of a fellow struggler’s death, presumably by overdose. I am ashamed to admit (but I am going to because I think I am not the only one) that my first thought was to question his salvation. Christians do not die of a drug overdose do they? My second thought was, How dare I? Was he in any way worse than me? Had I suddenly forgotten my own repeated failures? He knew Christ. He was born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God (1 Peter 1:23). In the decay of his flesh, he failed again, but even his failure could not rob him of that which does not decay.
The truth is, we all fail in the rot of our own flesh. We all stumble in many ways (James 3:2). Of course, when addicts fail, we often fail spectacularly for all to see. Addiction is a tough business to work in, not I think, because we fail more than others, but rather because it is just so much more obvious when we do. If I told you that there is a chance you might die next time you looked at pornography, had an evil thought or yelled at your kids, how long would you last?
Still, it is not wrong to be saddened by how this man died. It was tragic and pointless. It was a consequence of the pursuit of and addiction to the flesh nature. Let us not be deceived, an addict’s death by overdose is a painful culmination of a lifetime of destructive behaviors.
The reality is however, that his struggle is my struggle and his ultimate fate is my fate. I may not find death by the same route but, as Peter promises, this flesh, like the grass, will fade and it is only the word of God in me that stands forever. In the end, it is not how I get there that matters, but whether or not I have Christ in me.
I feel many emotions when I think of this death. I feel sadness over his tragic behavior and consequences. I feel anger that he did not turn to those he knew would help. I feel terror in wondering how close I have been to a similar end in my own addiction.
Over all of these emotions however, I feel joy at knowing that for him, the struggle is over and he is with Jesus. His flesh life has been a miserable battle with addiction but he had God in him and I know he is now free. He is free from the decay of this damned flesh and is now made gloriously perfect in Christ.