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What is Spiritual death? Bookmark

What is Spiritual Death?


SGM Dan Cartwright, USA (Ret)
Chairman, Board of Directors

Death is separation.  A physical death is the separation of the soul from the body.  Spiritual death, which is of greater significance, is the separation of the soul from God. In Genesis 2:17, God tells Adam that in the day he eats of the forbidden fruit he will “surely die.”  Adam does fall, but his physical death does not occur immediately; God must have had another type of death in mind—spiritual death.  This separation from God is exactly what we see in Genesis 3:8. When Adam and Eve heard the voice of the Lord, they hid themselves from God’s presence.  The fellowship had been broken. They were spiritually dead.

“but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” (Genesis 2:17)

“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.” (Genesis 3:8)

When Jesus was hanging on the cross, He paid the price for us by dying on our behalf.  Even though He is God, He still had to suffer to agony of a temporary separation from the Father due to the sin of world He was carrying on the cross.  After three hours of supernatural darkness, He cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken Me?” (Mark 15:34b).

“At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’—which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” (Mark 15:33-34 NIV)

This spiritual separation from the Father was the result of the Son’s taking our sins upon Himself.  That’s the impact of sin. Sin is the exact opposite of God and God had to turn away from His own Son at that time.

A man without Christ is spiritually dead. Paul describes it as being alienated or separated from the life of God.  (To be separated from life is the same as being dead.)

They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. (Ephesians 4:18 NIV)

The natural man, like Adam hiding in the garden, is isolated from God. When we are born again, the spiritual death is reversed.  Before salvation, we are dead (spiritually), but Jesus gives us life.

“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins,” (Colossians 2:13 NIV)

To illustrate, think of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.  The physically dead Lazarus could do nothing for himself.  He was unresponsive to all stimuli, oblivious to all life around him, beyond all help or hope—except for the help of Christ who is “the Resurrection and the Life.”

“Jesus said to her (Martha), ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’” (John 11:25-26)

At Christ’s call, Lazarus was filled with life, and he responded accordingly.  In the same way, we were spiritually dead, unable to save ourselves, powerless to perceive the life of God—until Jesus called us to Himself.  He “quickened” us; “not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy” (Titus 3:5).

The book of Revelation speaks of a “second death,” which is a final (and eternal) separation from God.  Only those who have never experienced new life in Christ will partake of the second death (Revelation 2:11; 20:6, 14; 21:8).

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.” (Revelation 2:11)

Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection.  The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.” (Revelation 20:6)

“Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire.  The lake of fire is the second death.” (Revelation 20:14)

“But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur.  This is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8)

What is Spiritual Death?


SGM Dan Cartwright, USA (Ret)
Chairman, Board of Directors

Death is separation.  A physical death is the separation of the soul from the body.  Spiritual death, which is of greater significance, is the separation of the soul from God. In Genesis 2:17, God tells Adam that in the day he eats of the forbidden fruit he will “surely die.”  Adam does fall, but his physical death does not occur immediately; God must have had another type of death in mind—spiritual death.  This separation from God is exactly what we see in Genesis 3:8. When Adam and Eve heard the voice of the Lord, they hid themselves from God’s presence.  The fellowship had been broken. They were spiritually dead.

“but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” (Genesis 2:17)

“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.” (Genesis 3:8)

When Jesus was hanging on the cross, He paid the price for us by dying on our behalf.  Even though He is God, He still had to suffer to agony of a temporary separation from the Father due to the sin of world He was carrying on the cross.  After three hours of supernatural darkness, He cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken Me?” (Mark 15:34b).

“At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’—which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” (Mark 15:33-34 NIV)

This spiritual separation from the Father was the result of the Son’s taking our sins upon Himself.  That’s the impact of sin. Sin is the exact opposite of God and God had to turn away from His own Son at that time.

A man without Christ is spiritually dead. Paul describes it as being alienated or separated from the life of God.  (To be separated from life is the same as being dead.)

They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. (Ephesians 4:18 NIV)

The natural man, like Adam hiding in the garden, is isolated from God. When we are born again, the spiritual death is reversed.  Before salvation, we are dead (spiritually), but Jesus gives us life.

“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins,” (Colossians 2:13 NIV)

To illustrate, think of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.  The physically dead Lazarus could do nothing for himself.  He was unresponsive to all stimuli, oblivious to all life around him, beyond all help or hope—except for the help of Christ who is “the Resurrection and the Life.”

“Jesus said to her (Martha), ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’” (John 11:25-26)

At Christ’s call, Lazarus was filled with life, and he responded accordingly.  In the same way, we were spiritually dead, unable to save ourselves, powerless to perceive the life of God—until Jesus called us to Himself.  He “quickened” us; “not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy” (Titus 3:5).

The book of Revelation speaks of a “second death,” which is a final (and eternal) separation from God.  Only those who have never experienced new life in Christ will partake of the second death (Revelation 2:11; 20:6, 14; 21:8).

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.” (Revelation 2:11)

Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection.  The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.” (Revelation 20:6)

“Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire.  The lake of fire is the second death.” (Revelation 20:14)

“But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur.  This is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8)



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