Tag Archives: spiritual death

Death — The Evidence of Sin

One unconditional piece of evidence for the reality of sin is the absolute certainty of death. Death is the separation from that which sustains life. Physical death occurs when the body is no longer sustained in the physical world through the natural laws, which are standards put into place by the Standard Giver. So, spiritual death is separation from the absolute One who sustains spiritual life, as well as physical life. Separation from the Life-Giver happens when there is known and deliberate rebellion against the Standard Giver. 

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Gen. 2:16-17)

God uses the word death twice in this restriction. On the day Adam ate from the tree dying he would die The verse actually says Adam, when he ate the fruit would “die die.” Adam did not immediately die but the process of physical death begin. He would die. This suggests two things. First, God created those in His image for physical and spiritual life. People will physically die. People are not supposed to spiritually die. Second, He told Adam what death was. We know death as separation from that which gives life. So for Adam death separates from God since God created him and breathed life into him. But, he would not be separated immediately in physical death. We do see God separating Adam from the garden immediately. Death is a consequence of sin but it is also the definitive evidence for the reality of sin.

We can no more ignore the truth of death than we can ignore the truth of sin than we can ignore the truth of God. 

Guilt – The Evidence of Sin

Reposted

What is the evidence for sin?

There are several primary pieces of evidence left in the trail of everyone bent by sin. Since God requires man recognize sin in self and the world He decrees the evidence remain obvious. His declaration of sin as rebellion against Him is all the verification for sin He needs. He always tells the truth and demands His creation live in truth declared. Man is created in the image of God. It is this image which gives us the tools to know truth, the difference between right and wrong and the reality of physical death pointing toward spiritual death. 

Even if we don’t know the word “sin” we do know the feeling “guilt.” In the New Testament the word “guilty” means to owe or to be in debt. In the Hebrew Scripture the word “guilty” means to commit an offense and be held responsible, either by self or an authority. Whether in the Hebrew Scripture or New Testament the guilty person is held and judged against a specific standard. This recognition of “guilt” points to sin and the intellectual acknowledgment of its reality, not the emotional realization of the consequences which follows. Emotions are subjective, influenced by many uncontrollable and unpredictable external and internal circumstances. Both our minds and the emotions, parts of the image of God, are corrupted by sin and so we cannot see, or will not see, and understand sin’s reality. 

No one can live with a guilty conscience for long. They must do something with the guilt. For sinful humanity one of the prevalent means for easing the shame brought on by sinful actions and attitudes is to change the standard which judges those actions and attitudes. We say what we have done is not rebellion and has violated no law and then we convince ourselves the lie is true. Doing this gives us permission to continue living out the lie. Or, we do something to absolve ourselves of the guilt. We offer restitution and pay for our sin using our own means and then feel better. Doing this never changes the truth of history and the reality of what has been done. Nor, because of the doctrine of depravity, will we adequately pay for our own sin, either actively or passively. We either ignore the rules and our rebellion against them or we explain away our rebellion and alleviate our feeling of guilt. 

But wait. Our heads, the intelligence, tells us “guilt” is real. Our heads, our minds, tell us we have done something to produce guilt. If we are honest we will recognize there is an objective standard existing outside of self which is absolute and which we have violated, producing guilt. We know, intellectually, the difference between right and wrong. This is the second piece of evidence for sin. Admitting one is guilty is as vitally important as recognizing the truth of sin. Ignoring the guilt will compel the person to begin viewing the created world, governed by the absolute laws of God, to believe a lie, which is insane.

It is not a great leap to realize a standard, a measurement of the distance between right and wrong, must have a Standard Giver. Since God, the Standard Giver, has created people in His image all are able to recognize both the standard of right and wrong and the One upon whom the standard is based. We know, intellectually as well as intimately, the boundaries of that standard. We may ignore them, rationalize them away, say they do not nor have never existed, call them something else, but we know, even corrupted by sin, the difference between right and wrong. 

We also know we always want to choose that which is wrong. In order to abrogate our responsibility to do what is right by choosing to do the wrong we must redefine truth, saying it is something it is not. When we do this we say God is something other than what He is truly. 

Truth, and right and wrong, are as absolute as mathematics. Evidence for the reality of sin is the recognition of what is right and what is wrong based upon the intimate knowledge of the intrinsic, objective standard of God, the truth, known because of the tools given within the image of God carried by all. 

Dirt

Studies in Genesis 3

And to Adam he said, … “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:19 ESV)

God told the man that when he ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil he would die. Adam ate the fruit from the tree but he did not immediately, physically die. God’s command states that when he dies (physically) he will die (spiritually) (“you will die die” Genesis 2:17).

Now God tells Adam that he will live his physical life by hard, frustrating work, and that when it is his time to die he will become dust, or dirt. The very ground he works to grow food to live will claim him and he will become indistinguishable from it as his body deteriorates back to dirt. “Then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature” (Genesis 2:7 ESV). God used dirt to make the man and to dirt the man will return when his body dies.

What happened to Adam happens to all who follow him. Had he obeyed God then those who followed would have received God’s blessing. That he disobeyed God, rebelling against Him, means he was sentenced to separation from God and the earth was cursed. We are not going to speculate about the probability of whether people would have individually rebelled against God if Adam had not. We do not know and cannot know the answer to that question. We do know sin infected all of humanity because of Adam’s rebellion. We do know all people die and their bodies become dirt after a time. Once the body is dead it cannot be made alive again by natural means.

Scripture does not use the term “federal headship.” Yet, Scripture is filled with historical examples of the children and citizens bearing the consequences of the actions of their fathers or leaders. “Federal” is a system of government where the leaders speak for the people. It is not a democracy where each has an equal voice but a system where the leaders are charged with the responsibility of implementing the will of those they represent. It is not fair but it is just.

Adam died. His body, after his life was no longer sustained, returned to the earth from which he was made and over which he was to have control, or dominion. He kept dominion as part of the image of God but lost the ability to exercise dominion. Before the fall, he was God’s representative over the earth. After the fall, the war began between those who hate God, even as they were created to know Him intimately, and everything pointing to God.

God makes it clear to Adam, and to all who follow him, that though they work and fulfill their responsibilities, they are still wholly dependent upon Him for their lives. Yes, people have to work and their work is both painful and stressful. God, after the rebellion of the first man, calls people to turn either toward Him or allows them to run away from Him. Those who turn away from God will work in their own effort and accomplish only what lasts a short, unfulfilling time. Those who turn toward God, acknowledge their inability to accomplish anything without God’s direct intervention. Physical death becomes the great equalizer among all people. Either there is a truthful and honest admission of separation from God because of sin or there is an attitude of not needing God, which is rebellion.

Alive

Studies  in Genesis 1

And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day. (Gen 1:20-23 ESV)

When God created the heavens and the earth, the universe in which we exist, He knew both the beginning and the ending of time. He exists outside of time and space looking down upon that which He created from a vantage point, seeing everything that is, was and will be. That which begins will also end. Nothing in the physical realm was designed to last for eternity.

Yet, we know from the words of Christ and the plain teaching of Scripture, that God created Man for Himself, for “everlasting life.” Physical bodies are exchanged for spiritual bodies which are just as real as the physical. Time, which begins and ends, is surrounded by eternity, which has neither beginning nor ending.

God tells us in Genesis 1 the creatures He created were “living” in Genesis 1:20. This word in English is a combination of two words in Hebrew. First, a word for “breathing” or “vitality” combined with a word for “alive” “fresh” and “strong.” Every animal which is alive breathes and moves. Plants take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide and grow but do not move. Both are alive. One the third day God created life which does not move. On the fifth day God created life which moves. All of this life He placed on a planet, in a solar system, in a galaxy, in a universe which is not alive, does not breathe, yet moves. God created that which is not alive and that which is alive.

When God created plant life on the third day He did so as food for the animal life He creates on the fifth (and sixth) day. Plants are food for animals. Are some animals food for other animals? This is true now, at this place in time. But were these animals, the fish and birds created on the fifth day, created as food for the animals He will create on the sixth day? Was that which had life created and given life to eventually die?

For Man physical death does not mean spiritual death. I have been saying for years that Man, each individual person, was not created to cease to exist but to exist in eternity, outside of space and time. Is this also true for all life created by God? We have circumstantial evidence only.

Righteous Judge

Studies in the Sermon on the Mount

Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. [Matthew 5:25 ESV]

Your adversary is the one who has collected and examined the evidence against you and is ready to present this evidence to the judge for determination of guilt or innocence. In many places throughout Scripture our adversary is Satan, the accuser. Here, our adversary is the prosecuting attorney who is God and all of the evidence of our sin shows guilt. What is the evidence the Judge will examine? This Judge peers into the heart, knows the thoughts of all and sees everything whether done, possible, probable, hidden or blatant. He sees and knows the absolute corruption of sin.

Sin has bent away from righteousness the thinking of the hearts of those made in His image. Just as God wants to have a relationship with the complete person so too, Satan, the world and sin wants to corrupt the whole person. We associate the world with sin though sin is internal, coming from within the person, and not external. Eve was tempted by the Serpent when she “saw that the tree was good for food” and that the food “was a delight to the eyes” [Genesis 3:6 ESV]. Her adversary used the pleasures and attractions of the things of the world to tempt her internal self to rebel against God.

God made nothing which wasn’t good, declaring all He made “very good” [Genesis 1:31 ESV]. This includes the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and its fruit. As part of the world this tree, like every other tree and its fruit, was good. It was not sinful. There was nothing in and of itself which made the fruit of this tree poisonous or bad. It was made delicious. And it looked delicious. But the fruit of the tree was forbidden to them as food. Adam was told to not eat the fruit from this tree.

When we cling to the world we become vulnerable to the temptations of the world. Not everything in the world is wrong or sinful. It is our desires, when attached to the things of the world as having more personal value than they should rightfully have which develops sin in the thinking of our hearts. Rebellion is a condition of the thinking of the heart, not just the “thinking” which is the intelligence and not just the “heart,” or the moral emotional self. Living in the presence of the forbidden demands we obediently trust the Object of faith. That which is forbidden by God, whether a thing or person, may not of itself be sinful. It is desire which uses the thing or the person as a catalyst to bend us away from obedience to God’s command which is sinful. Desire unencumbered by discipline, responsibility and obedience twists our motivations, encouraging disobedience, which causes distrust, which kills faith.

Is desire wrong? Are we not created with desires? Desire to love, be loved, have meaningful relationships? Desire for anything forbidden by God is not automatically sinful. Yet, desire moved to action gives birth to sin which grows and takes over life and is stopped only by death. Eve’s desire was to have what God forbade. She had everything else. Sin and rebellion destroys relationships between God and others.

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. [Genesis 3:1-6 ESV]

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world — the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions — is not from the Father but is from the world.

And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. [1John 2:15-17 ESV]

God is the eternal Judge with authority to render sentence against all who rebel against Him. He sees the evidence of disobedience and has published the sentence for sinful rebellion. He then placed that sentence upon His Son and executed sentence fulfilling His eternal just and righteous requirements.

Now His command is all eat from the tree of Life and live. God’s will is all receive the grace given through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ. Rejection of His grace is rebellion, sinful, and brings judgment and sentence.

Imputed

For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. [Matthew 5:18-19 ESV]

Speaking through the prophet Jeremiah God condemns Israel for their sin of adultery with false idols. For hundreds of years God’s Prophets declared His displeasure with His people because of their continuous rebellion. God banished the Northern Kingdom and still Judah did not learn. Three times Nebuchadnezzar came to Jerusalem and carried off people and temple artifacts. He finally destroyed Jerusalem and the temple.

For thus says the LORD: Your hurt is incurable, and your wound is grievous. There is none to uphold your cause, no medicine for your wound, no healing for you. All your lovers have forgotten you; they care nothing for you; for I have dealt you the blow of an enemy, the punishment of a merciless foe, because your guilt is great, because your sins are flagrant. Why do you cry out over your hurt? Your pain is incurable. Because your guilt is great, because your sins are flagrant, I have done these things to you.

Therefore all who devour you shall be devoured, and all your foes, every one of them, shall go into captivity; those who plunder you shall be plundered, and all who prey on you I will make a prey. For I will restore health to you, and your wounds I will heal, declares the LORD, because they have called you an outcast: “It is Zion, for whom no one cares!” [Jeremiah 30:12-17 ESV]

Yet, in the end Jerusalem will be restored and Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom will fall. Jeremiah’s words in 30:16-17 are reminiscent of God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 12. “And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” [Genesis 12:2-3 ESV]. God does not forget those who are His.

But, are these verses really speaking about Judah and the nation of Israel? Look at some of the phrases.

  • Your hurt (or bruise) is incurable
  • your wound is grievous
  • for I have dealt you the blow of an enemy, the punishment of a merciless foe
  • because your guilt is great (twice)
  • because your sins are flagrant (twice)
  • I have done these things to you.

All of this happened to Jerusalem and to Judah. God determined to punish His nation, removing from it those who were false prophets, tyrannical leaders and all idolaters. They were killed or banished to never return. Yet, Jeremiah also prophecies the return of the nation after a period of 70 years. Read Ezra and Nehemiah.

More importantly these phrases describe the passion of Christ as He stood before His accusers and was murdered by the Romans.

Wait! Christ was perfect. He did not sin. He was innocent. There was no guilt in Him. How can these words describe what happened to Christ?

Do you not remember His agonized cry while on the cross? “Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” [Matthew 27:46 ESV; see Mark 15:34 and Psalm 22:1]. He endured a separation from God, the deepest mystery, as He died. Death is not simply physical. Spiritual death is separation from that which sustains life. Spiritual death is continued existence gasping for sustenance.

Do you not know and have you not memorized the verse “for our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” [2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV]. Our sin is imputed to Him and His righteousness is imputed to us. This is another mystery. When God looked at Christ on the cross He saw the sin of the world. Not one person’s sin but everyone’s sin. Jesus, who is eternally sinless, became sin.

But it doesn’t end with death. Nor does Jerusalem end with destruction. God determined to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple, first physically, then spiritually. God brought the people back to Jerusalem for a time, yet they continued to rebel. God promises to create a new Jerusalem which will never face corruption.

Jesus referred to His body as the temple. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” [John 2:19 ESV]. Jesus was raised from the dead. His wounds were healed yet His scars remain. Do we try to understand and regularly contemplate the implications of His ultimate sacrifice?

We like to know God sees us as righteous. We thank God for His grace and mercy. How can we love God when we forget or ignore the sacrifice of Christ? Jesus did exactly what He determined to accomplish from eternity.