What is spiritual death?


What exactly is spiritual death? Some say that spiritual death is a separation from God. But what exactly is being separated? A physical separation, personal separation, or soul separation after physical death? If it was a physical separation, then why did God continue to have a relationship with Adam and Eve by clothing them in animal skin? If it was a personal relationship separation, then why did God talk to Cain and other prophets? That's a personal relationship. If spiritual death is a soul separation, then did Adam and Eve go to Abraham's Bosom after dying?

That goes on to my next set of questions:

If the wages of sin is death, both physical and spiritual, then did Jesus die a spiritual death as well?

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"Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness" (II Timothy 2:14-16).

The terms "physical death" and "spiritual death" are words people use to distinguish between the two ways "death" is used in the Bible, but you won't find those phrases in the Bible. Therefore, to nitpick over fine distinctions of meaning is not profitable.

Death is best understood as being the opposite of life. When a person is no longer physically alive, he is dead. That analogy is then applied to the spiritual realm: "I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died. And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me" (Romans 7:12-14).

But the Bible teaches that death is not permanent. "Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth -- those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation" (John 6:28-29). Thus death is also referred to as sleeping because you awake from sleep. "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus" (I Thessalonians 4:14).

Death also creates a separation. There is a separation of the spirit from the body. "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also" (James 2:26). Since God is our life, sin separates us from God and we die. "Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear" (Isaiah 59:1-2). The fact that a separation has taken place does not imply that no interaction continues.

Adam and Eve died to God because of their sin. They once had direct contact with God because He walked in the Garden with them (Genesis 3:8). Mankind lost that close relationship and it will only be regained when sin is destroyed. "And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, 'Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God'" (Revelation 21:3). Until that time, we cannot see the face of our God. "You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live" (Exodus 33:20).

The problem is that instead of reading each description of death is an illustration to help us understand the concept of death, you tried to go beyond what was said and put limits where none were even implied.

In Romans 6:23, Paul was using the illustration of slavery. When you work as a slave for sin, you earn the wages of death. When you work as a slave for God, you receive the gift of eternal life. The latter is a spiritual concept, thus the former one is the same. "And He said to me, 'It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death'" (Revelation 21:6-8). Did sin bring physical death into the world? Yes, but Romans 6:23 isn't discussing that.

Jesus purchased us with his death so that through his physical death he could freely give those who obey him eternal (spiritual) life.

"But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings" (Hebrews 2:9-10).

"Who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him" (Hebrews 5:7-9).

It does not take physical death to purchase physical life. It does not take spiritual death to purchase spiritual life. If such were true then all mankind would be saved without Christ because we all die physically and since we all sin, we all die spiritually as well. Those deaths purchased nothing. It is because Jesus was spiritually alive, having never sinned, that he was able to purchase with his physical death those of us who had killed ourselves spiritually with our sins.

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