1 Corinthians 15:55 “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?”
The odds of dying are not good, especially if you don’t want to die. I think the statistics show that for every single person born, every single one dies, the ratio is 1:1. I’m not trying to be cavalier about death, for many the reality of death has been far too apparent. What we will see by examining the Word of God is that it is a blessing that our bodies die.
Does anyone really want to die?
I used to think this was a question that was more rhetorical in nature, but with so many suicides occurring each day, I begin to wonder about our culture and the mindset people have today. I do know from researching statistics through the CDC that most people who survive suicide don’t ever attempt it again. Those who do survive report that they regretted the attempt the moment it occurred. I don’t want to focus on suicide, I want to look at death from God’s perspective and see what conclusions I might draw from His Word.
Types of Death
Luke 12:5 “But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear the One who, after you have been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear Him!”
The first consideration of death is in regards to our bodies. The reality of death has been apparent in mankind since the fall of mankind from the garden. There have been numerous things that have ended life, from the traditional aging process reaching the ending point to everything in-between. The most common form of death in America is from heart disease. Throughout the world disease is also a common form of death, war, violence, obesity, and so on. When I see a person advanced in age in health care, I see people who have realized their bodies are just wearing out. Joints become narrow, vessels develop plaque, livers fail, kidneys shut down, lungs become congested, and as the eyes begin to dim the brain does as well.
Eventually, the order of life begins to resort to a form much like how they started, as children in need of care so the advanced in age become more dependent on others.
The expected longevity of life varies throughout the world, we may think we have made all kinds of inroads to longevity but a brief survey of expectation in history hasn’t changed much. There are high’s and low’s in life spans but when considering the expectations for longevity, the graph hasn’t deviated a whole lot.
Psalm 90:10 “The days of our lives are seventy years; And if by reason of strength they are eighty years, Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; For it is soon cut off, and we fly away.”
80 years is the average death in the United States. King David, who penned much of the Psalms lived 3000 years ago. From God’s perspective, whether you lived prior to the flood and made it hundreds of years or after the flood, mankind’s lifespan isn’t long in God’s eyes.
Psalm 78:39 “He remembered that they were but flesh, a passing breeze that does not return.”
The flesh, once corrupted, has a time stamp of longevity.
Matthew 10:28 “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”
Spiritual death isn’t the same as what we think of when we consider the death of our flesh. There is no spiritual heart that is keeping us alive….or is there?
Deuteronomy 30:6 “And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.”
O.K., well it seems that we do have a spiritual heart, if God can circumcise it then there must be a spiritual entity that has spiritual significance in our lives. Matter of fact, whenever the Bible refers to the heart, it isn’t referring to the 4 chambered organ that pushes blood throughout your body, it is referring to our spiritual heart.
Deuteronomy 6:5 “And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”
The only part of our current bodily existence referenced here is our strength, and even then there is a spiritual strength that correlates as well.
The Hebrew term for strength is the term meod. It is a term that references a particular magnitude or degree, such as exceedingly, or very. For instance, in Genesis 13:2 it says “Abraham (was very) rich in livestock or was meod in livestock. In Genesis 17:2 it says the Lord will “multiply you exceedingly (meod)”.
Strength takes on a different connotation under these circumstances. It isn’t as much a reference to what you can do by your own strength but rather what God has supplied to you.
Revelation 21:8 “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
If our bodies die with a heart of stone, we suffer a final spiritual death. Those who follow any other path than Jesus’ path, will go down to the pit of darkness.
From Death to Life
Ezekiel 36:26 “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”
Apart from God, all we have is a stone cold heart. Our spiritual condition is hardened and therefore God’s love cannot be expressed nor received. A heart of flesh is one that is tender, vulnerable, life giving, and it forms the core of our spiritual life giving flow which is the Spirit of God, coursing through our lives.
Hebrews 9:27-28 “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.” The only hope for the spiritually dead is Jesus Christ. You cannot have your heart of stone transformed by anything other than Jesus alone. Baptism does not save you, either as a child or now. Acting benevolently toward others does not save you. Treating the environment well will not save you. Nothing you will ever do can save you from the wrath of God to come… only Jesus can do that.
We must look at the condition that got us condemned in the first place to understand why the solution is so narrow.
We have hearts of stone because we were born with hearts that sin. Our sinful nature left us separated from God and with each consequential sin, we store up wrath for the day of judgement. Sin is a personal offense against God. When we sin we offend His law and His law is reflective of His nature. (1 John 3:4)
Baptism does not relieve you of sin. The only recourse for sin is death, and only Jesus could provide the necessary death for us to live.
If we want to live, we too must die to our old nature.
Romans 7:5-6 “For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death. But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.”
The decision to follow Jesus is a decision to move from your old life where you were a slave to sin, to a new life where you are a slave unto righteousness. You either live for yourself or you live for the One who brings you grace for salvation. Righteousness is imparted upon salvation…it is God’s perfection that Jesus earned for you. Walking in righteousness is to walk according to God’s nature which is reflected in His law. We do this out of love for Him, not to prove ourselves worthy to earn grace. You cannot earn grace, you can only receive it.
Why is there only life or death? Why is sin such a grievous offense where the only recourse is eternal death?
Many think this penalty is too harsh and yet the nature of sin, when examined at its core says otherwise.
In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were told that they could take from any tree in the garden but from the Tree of the Knowledge of good and evil, notice it wasn’t a tree of evil but the knowledge of evil. God did not create evil, by giving mankind free moral choice He gave mankind the potential for rebellion. They were given a choice with a free will to conclude whether they wanted to obey God or disobey His commands. When Satan deceived Eve, Adam chose to follow in rebellion.
Referencing Creation.com gives further insight:
“The motive for Adam and Eve’s disobedience was not appetite, but the ambition to be as God (Genesis 3:5). It is clear, therefore, that sin is essentially rebellion against God’s revealed will.
A matter of the will more than of the hand, sin is an act of rebellion, revolution, and anarchy against God’s righteous government. As such it is an affront to the holiness of God. The measure of God’s wrath against sin is the measure of His holiness. And the measure of the penalty—death—is the measure of the enormity of the offence.”
1 Corinthians 15:21 “For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead.”
The only way to move from death to life is to be made “justified”. A clever way to remember this is to think of becoming “just as if you never sinned”. Justified is a term that reflects justice and justice is reflective of the law. Even in the Garden of Eden, God’s nature or law was in effect. To offend God is to offend everything about Him, His name, His power, and His position. Spiritual death is simply removal from Life and life is only found in Him.
There is much more than can be said about this but must wait for another day.
Dying is a fact of life. We all must endure a physical death but spiritual death is one we have a choice over.
If we choose to prematurely die to this flesh, we will receive spiritual life.
This isn’t a suicide reference, this is a spiritual reference. When we die to the flesh, we give our lives to Jesus. We commit the short life we have into His care and service. When you die to the flesh, you gain far more.
Galatians 5:24-25 “And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”
The heart change that occurs becomes a transformation from darkness to light. The Spirit of the Lord inhabits your life and you are transformed by His power. His Spirit becomes a seal on your life as a demonstration that you are now God’s child. The blessing we gain from physical death is that this body of sin is done away with, when we have been made new in a spiritual sense by Jesus Christ, we are given the opportunity to have new life now and to come.
We will be given new physical bodies, some to enjoy with God and some to suffer an eternity in Hell. The stark reality of life now and life to come is for the wise to consider.
Do you want new life?
Jesus is where you find it.