Lesson #2

A SURE DEATH

SCRIPTURE REFERENCE

Genesis 2:17b NASB   “. . .for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die.”

 

DEATH DEFINED

Death is something each of us will eventually face. It is scheduled on every human being’s appointment book. No one is exempt!

And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this come judgment, ....(Hebrews 9:27)

You might say, “But what about Elijah and Enoch? They never died?” Could it be possible that they are the two witnesses of Revelation 11? Whether or not this is a fact, the truth remains that they were touched by the pains of death. By God’s divine plan, Elijah was provided a place of refuge in a widow’s home along with her young son. During his stay the widow’s son died. Elijah carried the boy to the upper room of the house and cried out to God. Even Elijah who has not yet experienced his own death knows its pain. Sooner or later we are all touched by this enemy.

The Word tells us:

For the wages of sin is death; (Romans 7:23a)

But what is death? Did Adam and Eve really die when they disobeyed God and ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good & Evil? To understand death, we must first allow God to define it. In James 2:26 it says:

For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead”

We readily see that death is a state of separation of the spirit from the body. It is not that one’s spirit and soul cease to exist, but that they become separated from the state of existence in which humans live. God has ordained that the dead and the living are no longer to communicate. When we go to a funeral home to comfort a family who has lost a loved one, it would be fruitless to walk over to the casket and strike up a conversation with the deceased. Although their body is there, their spirit and soul have departed. They are dead to us. This is why death is so difficult, even to a believer. It is a time of saying good-bye to people we have learned to love. If they are Christians, we have the hope of seeing them again when it is our turn to pass from this life. But even with that knowledge, temporary good- byes are still painful. God knew we would need comfort in the face of death and gives us words of encouragement so that we do not grieve as people who have no hope.

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope. (I Thessalonians 4:13)

A LIVING SOUL

With these thoughts in mind, let us go back to the Garden of Eden and see what really took place. We read in Genesis 2:7:

Then the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

We are told that man became “a living soul.” This same term “living soul” is used of cattle, creeping things and beasts that God brought forth from the earth on the sixth day of creation. A literal translation of Genesis 1:30b would read:

“...and to everything that moves on the earth which is a living soul.”

At first glance, one could almost come to the conclusion that the life of animals and the life of man are the same. A closer look will show us that the life of man is much more complex. In each of the days of creation, God spoke and there was a response to His word. On the sixth day God said:

“Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind; cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind”, and it was so.

But when God made man He did not just speak the word and have man’s form rise from the dust. Man’s heart did not immediately start pumping when God finished sculpturing him like clay. God carefully formed man and breathed into his nostrils His life. Man’s ability to breathe, his very life force came directly from the mouth of God. Not only would Adam live in the realm of the soul having thoughts, will and emotions, but he would have spirit-life as God has spirit- life.

In Lesson #1 we found that God communed with Adam in the “cool of the day” or “the spirit of light”. In John 1:4 it says concerning Jesus:

In Him was life; and life was the light of men.

God used the words “light” and “life” interchangeably. Considering these words, we are able to conclude that God and man actually communed together in “the spirit of life”. They shared together spirit to spirit. Animals do not have this ability. They are not reasoning beings. Their actions and responses are instinctive. Jude speaks about people who act like animals. In Jude verse 10 it says:

But these men revile the things which they do not understand; and the things which they know by instinct, like unreasoning animals, by these things they are destroyed.

Immediately after Adam and Eve’s disobedience something about their makeup began to change.

Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. (Genesis 3:8)

Their eyes were opened! Before this time they were able to see from the perspective of the spirit. Everything about them was governed solely by their spirit. Now the eyes of the flesh were opened and they were aware of their physical nakedness. When God came to them in “the cool of the day” or “the spirit of light” they could no longer approach Him as they had before and they hid themselves from His presence. Before they sinned they had had spirit-life within them which enabled them to commune with God spirit to Spirit. Now the light of life was extinguished. Their spirits had become separated from God; they were dead to God. They were spiritually dead! God’s word was true,

“...for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 3:17b)

IN HIS IMAGE

We are told in Genesis 1:26-27

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

The Hebrew word “tselem” which is translated “image” means a phantom or ghost. It refers to the spirit-likeness God put into man. After Adam and Eve had sinned, their spirits did not vanish nor cease to exist; they died. Their spirits lost the ability to communicate with God spirit to spirit. Just as with physical death, their spirits remained, but the life was gone. From that time on mankind came into this world with a dead spirit. Genesis 5:3 says:

When Adam had lived one hundred and thirty years, he became the father of a son in his own likeness, according to his image, and named him Seth.

Notice that it does not say Seth was born in the image of God, but in the image of his father. What kind of image, or spirit did Adam have at the time of Seth’s birth? The answer is, “a dead one.” Adam passed on the same type of image he had to his son, a spirit that was dead to God. So it has been down through the ages: Man has had no ability to pass spirit-life to their offspring. Therefore, we have all been born with spirits that are unable to commune and fellowship with God.

THE LAW OF SIN AND DEATH

When man sinned, death became a part of every man’s being. This spiritual death had a greater reaching effect than broken fellowship with God. We can see in Genesis 3:7 that spiritual death brought change to their physical bodies as well.

Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.

For the first time in their existence their natural eyes saw things they hadn’t seen before. Their physical bodies had sensed things it hadn’t sensed before; they knew they were naked. Pain, toil and exhaustion were byproducts of this deadly change.

To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, In pain you shall bring forth children; Yet your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16)

Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. (Genesis 3:17)

By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:19)

What changed in their bodies? Why did their physical makeup become different and why would the final result be death to their natural bodies? The answers are found in Romans 7:

For we know that the Law is spiritual; but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. (Romans 7:14)

So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which indwells me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is , in my flesh; for the wishing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. (Romans 7:17-18)

For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? (Romans 7:22-24)

In verse 14 we find that the flesh was sold into bondage to sin. In verses 17-18 we discover that sin indwells us. And in verse 22-24 we learn that the law of sin, or the administrative standard of sin, dwells in the members of our body. In our originally created state our bodies were not made to live under these conditions. Although the body has the ability to rejuvenate itself, to shed old layers of skin, to mend and heal itself, still the law of sin is at work in us. The toll of sin causes us to age and wear out. That which was made to live forever soon becomes deteriorated and eventually dies. There is no escaping the truth of Romans 6:23, For the wages of is death.” Sin’s wages affect our whole being; spirit, soul and body. Even if a person lived his life without sickness or disease, old age alone would be his demise. Wrinkles are inevitable, gray hair is a certainty, and vital body parts will wear out and eventually fail. Paul made it very clear to the Romans when he wrote, Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned. (Romans 5:12)

Why is it that all men sin? Because the law of sin, or sin’s rule of action indwells each of us. That is why Paul said, For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

Every man is under the sentence of death. Once the reality becomes a part of our understanding all we can do is cry out, Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24)

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Lesson #2

Comprehension Questions

  1. How does the Bible define death?

  2. Who are the two men in the Bible that never died?

  3. Does the Bible say that Christians will not grieve the death of loved ones?

  4. How does man’s being differ from animals?

  5. How did man receive his life?

  6. What died in man when he ate the forbidden fruit?

  7. What does the Hebrew word “tselem” mean?

  8. According to Genesis 3:16, 17 & 19 what became a part of man’s existence after the fall?

  9. What indwells our body as a result of the fall?

10. How many people through all the ages have sinned?

Scripture References

1.  Where in the N.T. does it say that we are dead in our trespasses and sins?

2.  Where in the N.T. does it tell us that the last enemy to be abolished is death?

3. Where in the N.T. does it say through one man’s disobedience, many were made sinners?

4.  Where in the N.T. does it tell us that sin is the sting of death?

5.  Where in the O.T. does God refer to the thorns of death and the sting of Sheol? (NASB)

VOCABULARY

ENGLISH

HEBREW

GREEK

comfort

comfort

comfort

bereave

spirit

spirit

grave

soul

soul

grief

body

body

shiva

Adam

wages (Romans 6:23)

 

Eve

 

 

image (Genesis 1:26)

 

 

likeness (Genesis 1:26)

 

 

toil (NASB) sorrow (KJ)

(Genesis 3:17)

 

Discussion or Essay Questions

*       What does God’s word teach about communicating with the dead?

*       Describe ancient funerals and their beliefs.

*       Describe the psychology of grief and what place it has in a Christians life.

*      What are the customs of modern-day funerals and where did they originate?

Translation Passage

Romans 5:19