In the Book of Revelation, Christ declares that he holds the keys to Hell and death. The question for us to answer is: what are we keeping locked away that can be opened with those keys? We almost instinctively hide our sins, as if the threads of divinity woven into our beings at the creation of the first of humankind can recognize how wrong our sins are even before we can conceptualize it for ourselves. The mark of our Maker is revealed in that we are repulsed by sin on a subconscious level, especially the sins of others. We are prone to rationalize our own sins, and so do not feel as visceral a reaction against them. Regardless, as we grow, we come to know that sin is the willful disobedience of God’s will, and it is unequivocally wrong. Sin for which we do not repent and for which we do not accept God’s grace will inevitably lead to hell and death. This is not the will of God however; for God, even now, two thousand years after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, calls out to us to receive the grace born of blood and sacrifice. The Spirit stirs in our hearts and urges us to move away from sin and towards the door that will lead to salvation and eternal life.
It is not enough that we reject our own sinfulness. We must confront how we have been complicit and even encouraging of the sins of others. We do not sin in a social vacuum, and we cannot confront it in one either. This is what John Wesley meant when he articulated that one’s personal holiness can only be truly realized when it is a catalyst for social holiness. If our sin creates evil in society and suffering for others, then our renunciation of sin personally must create healing and reconciliation in society as well. Christianity rejects the notion that we can focus solely on ourselves, for no part of the Body can be healthy while the rest is left to languish and decay. In order to achieve the sanctification wrought by the Holy Spirit, we have to be open and honest with ourselves about our personal sins, and our corporate sins as a church and society, then we have to work actively and intentionally to overturn them. This is where the true work lies, and when we desperately need the power of Christ to uphold us in this endeavor. So we pray, we discern, and we gather together for the strength and power of the many who claim the name of Christ Jesus is unmatched in this world. We can do things together in authentic witness which we could never dream of doing on our own. Christ does possess the keys to hell and death, but Christ has given us back the power to make profound and lasting change by working in tangent with God in the pursuit of our holiness and thus the transformation of the world.