—My Thoughts so Far on Biblical Death—
Last week I promised to speak on the three types of death as a result of sin, and the one type of death that pertains to the righteousness found in Jesus Christ. I’ve been thinking through this process for a few weeks. I’ve also been writing on this subject for a little while now (much of which I have not published, but just kept a running file on my laptop). This particular post is a work in progress.
As with many of the things that I sit down to write I have a habit of hashing out a subject longer than what I initially intended. This particular instance is no different. Which is why I have been so delayed in getting this out there to my 2 or 3 dedicated readers (lol).
What I have decided to do is provide a brief outline of the material discussed below. I will then provide with this post point (a) under the heading Death: Result (wages) of Sin. After which each subsequent point will follow. I decided to break these up because of length. Hopefully, this will give you the reader an idea of where I am going beforehand.
I. Death: Result (wages) of Sin
- In Adam we all die. As his offspring we all inherit death as a consequent sentence of his disobedience in the garden. In Adam we become sinners, and as a result we die physically due to our separation from God. We are born unclean, unholy, unrighteous enemies of God; children of wrath.
- We are all sinners, but that does not mean all our sins are crimes. Some sins are criminal in nature and result in the swift judgment of God in terms of a death sentence. I have identified three subsets under this category in studying the Old Testament (Tanakh; hereafter OT).
- Major—Group Death Sentence.
- Minor—Individual law-breaking death sentence
- Cut-off—A death sentence in a metaphoric sense.
- We are all sinners and this, if not repented of, results in everlasting condemnation. This is found in the New Testament (hereafter; NT) more than any other part of the Bible
**Summation of the Parts: All of us die physically as a consequence of Adam’s sin. Some of us may die in this life, having our lives cut short, if our sins are worthy of a punishment of death by violating God’s law. Some of us may experience death figuratively speaking, in the sense of being cut-off, but this is not necessarily a permanent state. Some of us will experience eternal punishment for rebelling against our Maker, having died in our sins. For such, there is no repentance of sins possible.
II. Death: Results (wages) of Christ’s Righteousness
- In Christ we all die. However, what we die to is different than the death we were born into. We are born “dead in trespasses and sins,” but when we die in Christ, we are reborn “dead to trespasses and sins.” In Christ, we die so that righteousness may abound. In this way, He makes all things new, and we are new in that we are creations in/through Him. For these the power of death has been broken, and it is robbed from the victory that the evil one desired.
Death: Result (wages) of Sin
Because of Adam’s sin we all die. Thus, the apostle Paul writes the following categorical statement of fact:
“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned…” (Rom 5.12; NASB).
Both sin and death were (are) foreign concepts to God’s “very good” creation (Gen 1.31). Notice the order given as to their entrance into creation. First came sin and then death came later as the result of sin. Adam’s sin (the antecedent) brought death (the consequent) “to all men,” this is verified by the fact that “all [mankind] sinned,” (v.12) that “death reigned from Adam until Moses” (v. 14) before “the Law…was in the world” (v. 13). Why? Because Adam’s “transgression,” (v. 18) his act of “disobedience” (v. 19), brought “condemnation to all men” (v. 18) as “the many were made sinners” (v. 19).
This death entails two key truths; physical and spiritual death. This is a judicial sentence of God. This is the condemnation that Paul speaks of. We physically die, “returning to the dust from whence we came” (Gen 3.19; paraphrased). We are also born spiritually dead as an inheritance from our forefather (Eph 2.3; Job 25.4-6).
Who Subjected What?
Moreover, we are a part of the creation that was “subjected to futility, not willing, but because of Him who subjected it” (Rom 8.20). If this approach seems novel to you, I am not surprised. We normally think of “creation” as something outside of us. The hills, the clouds, the rivers, and all wildlife, but mankind likewise falls under this designation. And while, Paul may in fact be speaking about the created order as separated from mankind, he does tie the two together in vv.22-23 where he writes,
“For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves….” (italics mine).
Who was the One that subjected creation—including the entirety of the human race—to futility if not God? Yes, Adam sinned and the consequences we received are a result of his disobedience. But God in carrying out a righteous judgment subjected all of creation to this “slavery to corruption,” and the “hope that the creation itself also will be set free” is found in the “glory of the children of God” (Rom 8.21). How so? Specifically, redemption found in Christ alone via the Holy Spirit’s regenerating power (cf. Rom 7.24-8.2). (This will be discussed under the primary heading–Death: Results (wages) of Christ’s Righteousness in the days to come).
The three types of death we witness in the OT.
 This speaks of those found in Christ via faith, which is the consequent of God’s activity beforehand (the antecedent). Cf. 1Cor 1.28-31; Eph 1.3-5.
 Though sin is often personified in Scripture it is not a substance. In terms of human nature, it is a stain, a corrupting influence. In terms of a legal transaction, it is a judicial judgment of condemnation, a relational break between the Creator and the creature. The Bible’s personification of it is done so that the reader might be better aware of its corrupting influence. It has broken the former bonds shared in the beginning when God first made the man and woman.
 For those that deny the reality of this claim, I wonder what state you believe mankind is in before Christ and the Spirit’s regenerating work? Why, if the person is good and not bent towards wickedness, then does the Bible say we need a new heart? If we are able to see the truth of God before the power of the gospel opens our blinded eyes, then why does the Bible say we cannot even see the kingdom of God unless we are born again? If we are able on our own strength to do what the law of God requires, then why does the Bible say that we are not open to the law of God, but hostile to it? Not only hostile to it, but unwilling and unable to obey?