What is death?

GENESIS 2:17 -- "but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it YOU SHALL SURELY DIE."

"YOU SHALL SURELY DIE". What does that really mean? After all, Adam continued to live physically for hundreds of years and the human race is still here. If the human race was "in Adam" we should have never existed because Adam and Eve would have had no offspring - they were dead, right?

The Great Disobedience

We can only understand the necessity of the death and blood shedding of the Lord Jesus when we have an understanding of what really happened in that moment of disobedience. This act of disobedience was the act from which all other disobedience and sin has flowed to the human race and all mankind. This act was the GREAT DISOBEDIENCE and was the response to the GREAT LIE of Satan.

This act cannot be seen as being similar to disobeying an employer, or speeding in your car, or cheating on your taxes, or telling a lie. It was not like a falling out between friends where each goes their own separate ways and gets on with their lives. This act was like jumping off a 20 story building to defy gravity - only more severe. This act was not simply the breaking of a pointless rule, it was a deliberate act of unbelief in the basic law of the created universe - OBEDIENCE TO THE CREATOR.


-- "For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on the earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created by Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together."

No, in this act of disobedience the parties involved were Adam and Eve and their Creator, the giver and sustainer of their life. To rebel in an act of disobedience that declared their independence from Him was to disconnect with their source of life and plunge into death. We must understand the magnitude of this act in order to understand why Jesus had to give up his life and shed His blood for our redemption.

Apart from scrapping His desire for the human race, there was nothing God could do. His pronouncement "In the day you eat of it, you shall surely die" was not a punishment, but an announcement of a fact: You are dependent upon God for your life, you were created to live in His love and be exceedingly blessed, and if you walk away from Him a law will be triggered that cannot be reversed -- YOU WILL DIE -- you will experience death.

Adam and Eve were created to live in union with God and enjoy the fruit of His incredible love for them. But they CHOSE to believe a lie about their God and therefore forfeited their relationship with God. They forsook the meaning of their existence as creations of God. Literally said "NO!" to their covenant union with Him and forfeited their dominion over the physical creation that God gave to them. They exchanged that life for the illusion of independence that resulted in death.

Mankind died the moment they believed the lie about God and ate from the tree.

What Do We Mean By Death?

After the disobedience occurred the Scriptures say "the eyes of them both were opened" and something changed immediately. They had lost the intimacy with their God and actually became afraid to talk with Him. See GENESIS 3:8-10.

In GENESIS 3:19. we see where God was telling Adam that he no longer had the life of God in Him and was no longer in union with His Creator. Adam was told by God that he was nothing more than "dust" from the ground and that at the end of physical life he will return to the ground as dust. His world as he had known it was over.

An example of this would be the relationship of a branch to the vine. If you were a branch and you were connected to a vine you would be receiving your life support from the vine flowing into you. If you chose to sever your connection from the vine you would no longer have the life of the vine flowing into you and you would dry up and die.

That is what happened with Adam and God. When Adam and Eve chose to sever themselves by their disobedience and rebellion they severed their flow of life coming from God. That action caused their seperation and their "death".

To Understand Death We Must First Understand What Life Is

When we humans try to define "death" we are seeing it as what happens to us at the end of our physical life. We simply believe that we are alive now and will experience death at the end of that physical life. But the Bible tells us that those who are not "in Christ", or in covenant with God through Jesus, are not alive now. They are dead to God. They are the walking dead of this world and are in the kingdom of darkness where they cannot see -- they do not live, they simply exist.

Different Types of Life

There are several types of life on this planet.

First, God is life and the source and sustainer of all life. No life exists outside of Him and nothing is truly independent of Him.

Then we have human life. This type of life is the most complex of all living creatures and was ORIGINALLY DESIGNED to share in and participate in divine life. This incredible creation was designed to be able to live in God's world and in the physical creation all at the same time.

Next, we have animal life which has a graded scale of complexity from primates all the way down to the single celled amoeba.

Now the amoeba is alive, my dog is alive, I am alive, and God is alive. Life and living mean something different on each level of existence. The human was the only creation whose life was intended to go far beyond the natural physical life by sharing in the divine life of God. Remember at the time of creation God breathed life into his new creation - man.

In the Greek language, the word "zoe" is used to describe life as God knows life. "Zoe" then becomes the foundation of all life; but it specifically describes the quality of life that is unique to God Himself. It is translated in the New Testament as "life" and "everlasting life". The New Testament is full of references to "zoe", therefore it is telling us that the purpose of God is that we should receive "zoe" life in addition to our natural life. This enables those who have received this "zoe" life through the "new birth" to live as we were originally intended to live -- in union with God and with His life being in us.

JOHN 3:16 -- "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life("zoe").

JOHN 10:10 -- "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they might have life ("zoe"), and that they might have it more abundantly."

In each of these verses the word "zoe" is used for "life" and for "everlasting life". We were created to partake in the life of God - "zoe".

Sin stole that life from us and Jesus came to earth to die in order to restore that life to us!!


To Fully Understand Death Let Me Give You Some Examples

First of all in order to answer the question, "What is death?" we must include within our definition the reality that at the end of physical life there is a termination of that physical life.

But death must be understood to be separated from and being unaware of and unresponsive to the dimension of life that one is dead to.

Here are some examples of this definition.

A physically dead human is conscious in another dimension, either heaven or hell, but is separated from the physical world and therefore is unaware of and unresponsive to it.

Another example. Using the definition from above we could say that the animal world is dead to the human world. My dog is dead to the fullness of human life. It lives in my human world but is unaware of and unresponsive to everything that is essentially human. It responds to my providing food, water, and shelter and it has an awareness of me being around. But it is unresponsive to a Beethovan symphony, or the reading from a book, nor does a joke have any effect on it. It does not ponder the meaning of its existence or discuss the meaning of life with other dogs. It only has dog life which cannot fully comprehend nor relate to human life.

In this same sense, through the great disobedience, the man and woman plunged into a state of being dead to God and alive only to the human awareness of their physical world, which was light years above the animal world but light years below what they were originally created to enjoy.

There is an awful finality in both spiritual and physical death. Once dead only God can bring a person back to life. In the realm of he physical, He does that in resurrection. In the realm of the spiritual, He accomplishes it through the miracle of the new birth.


ROMANS 5:17 -- "For by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ."

Through the GREAT DISOBEDIENCE death reigned over the human race because of Adam's act, BUT the will of God is for you to be restored to the original life that Adam had in union with God and reigning in life.



Let's continue in our study and examine the idea of the deceptive gospel message being proclaimed that is a man-centered rather than a Jesus-centered gospel. This message has deceived many that sit in the pwes of our congregations.

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