If Christ is not raised, we are still condemned by our sin – “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (I Corinthians 15:17).
Is there any worse news than this? If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, our “sins” still condemn us. We would still have to face the consequences of our sin and death. When Jesus was speaking to the religious leaders, he told them he was going to leave earth and the consequence of their rejection would be this – “I am going away, and you will seek me, and you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come” (John 8:21). Paul is saying, “If Jesus didn’t raise from the dead, that will be you too – regardless of how much good works you accumulate.”
One of my favorite Gospel verses in Scripture is II Corinthians 5:21 – “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” But if Jesus didn’t raise from the dead, the truth would really be this – “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, but WE WILL REMAIN IN SIN, because HE FAILED TO ESCAPE THE GRAVE.”
How about John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life”? If Jesus didn’t raise from the dead, we’d read, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, but HIS SON DIED AND COULDN’T DEFEAT DEATH, so WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM IS A LIAR, and WILL PERISH AND NOT HAVE ETERNAL LIFE.”
How about Romans 8:1 – “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”? If Jesus didn’t raise from the dead, we would read that verse this way – “There is therefore STILL condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
And you could even read Revelation 5:9 this way – “You (referring to Jesus Christ) ARE NOT WORTHY to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain and BURIED AND YOU REMAINED THERE, and your blood was not ransomed for people from every tribe and language and people and nation.” In fact, that verse wouldn’t even exist, because Jesus would still be in the grave!
Without the resurrection of Christ, we are still condemned. His death would have accomplished nothing. At best, it could have been made into another movie about a hero who loves the people he died for. But there would be no atonement, no justification, no sanctification and no glorification without Jesus defeat of death and raising from the dead. There would be no rescue from sin.