But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. — Gen 2:17
It is very important for Christians to understand what spiritual death is and what causes it, so that they may know how to avoid it.
This is a time of gross darkness around the world. Almost all denominations and pastors are teaching that it is not possible to live a life of obedience and be free from committing willful acts of disobedience against known laws of God. They teach the people to profess to be sinners saved by grace, and that their life down here on earth is one of sinning and repenting. They say that the best Christians can do is not doing the good that you want to do, and doing the evil that you don’t want to do — the “O wretched man” experience of Romans chapter 7.
Of the few denominations and pastors that do teach that it is possible to live a life of obedience, most leave a back door open for sinning by telling the people that sin doesn’t bring spiritual death. They teach that while God is able to deliver you from sinning and keep you, that if you do sin, you are just out of fellowship and need to repent and move on. This is the message that the serpent told Eve, if you sin “Ye shall not surely die” (Gen 3:4).
In the Bible, we find 4 types of death. Physical death is when the spirit is separated from the body (Jam 2:26); Eternal death with is called the second death (Rev 2:11, 20:6, 14, 21:8) which is separation from God forever; Spiritual death is when people are spiritually separated from God – which is called dead in trespasses and sins (Eph 2:1); and dead to sin (Rom 6:2) which is separation from sin and happens when we are saved (Eph 2:5, 6).
In 1 Timothy 5:6, Paul tells us that “she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.” This person is alive physically, but those that live a life of pleasure are separated spiritually from God and this is referred to as “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph 2:1).
God warned Adam in the garden that “in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Gen 2:17). As this sin caused Adam and Eve to be separated from God and to incur guilt, it is fair to say that God meant a spiritual separation or death – not a literal death.
Adam didn’t need to eat the fruit over a period of time, and their offense was not murder but simply eating a piece of fruit in disobedience, and God said they would die in the day that they ate.
The Devil is still saying today what he told Eve back thousands of years ago, “Ye shall not surely die” (Gen 3:4). You can sin and still be a Christian. One sin will not separate you from God. Hence, the devil desires to beguile you as he beguiled Eve when she believed his lie.
James gives us the process of falling into sin. “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (Jam 1:14, 15). When sin is finished (complete entire, consummated) it brings spiritual death.
If you keep the Lord’s sayings, you “shall never see death” (Joh 8:51), but if you love not your brother you “abideth in death” (1Joh 3:14).
So the question we want to answer is “can you be abiding in death, be dead in sins and trespasses, and still be a Christian on your way to heaven?” John answers this question for us very clearly. “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.” 1Joh 3:15. Not only do you abide in spiritual death or separation from God, but you don’t have “eternal life abiding” in you.
Clearly, the Word of God teaches that sin brings spiritual death or separation from God. Please get this down into the heart. Sin will murder your relationship with God – it will end it. Sin will open you up to deception. It will destroy whatever faith you have. When you sin, you are deceived by Satan, you are under his control, thus you are his child.
It doesn’t take practicing sin or continuing in sin for some unknown period of time. It doesn’t take “big” sins like adultery or murder for you to be separated from God. It takes one single act of willful disobedience to a known commandment of God.
Satan comes to “steal, and to kill, and to destroy” (Joh 10:10) your spiritual life. If he tempts you to sin and tells you that “Ye shall not surely die”, don’t believe him!
There are 185 occurrences in the New Testament of the word “dead” and these are translated from 10 Greek words 1 (174 of the occurrences are translated from 3 main Greek words) . The word “death” is found 169 times in the New Testament and it is translated from 9 different Greek words (162 of the occurrences are translated from 4 main Greek words) 2.
1Greek words for dead — Shows Thayers’s Lexicon definition, KJV translation count, and each verse in KJV where the Greek word is found:
Strongs 3498 νεκρός 132 times
Strongs 599 ἀποθνῄσκω 30 times
Strongs 2348 θνῄσκω 12 times
Strongs 4430 πτῶμα 3 times
Strongs 5053 τελευτάω 3 times
Strongs 581 ἀπογίνομαι 1 times
Strongs 2253 h?mithan?s 1 times
Strongs 2289 ἡμιθανής 1 times
Strongs 2837 κοιμάω 1 times
Strongs 4880 συναποθνῄσκω 1 times
2Greek words for death — Shows Thayers’s Lexicon definition, KJV translation count, and each verse in KJV where the Greek word is found:
Strongs 2288 θάνατος 117 times
Strongs 599 ἀποθνῄσκω 31 times
Strongs 2289 θανατόω 8 times
Strongs 615 ἀποκτείνω 6 times
Strongs 336 ἀναίρεσις 2 times
Strongs 337 ἀναιρέω 2 times
Strongs 1935 ἐπιθανάτιος 1 time
Strongs 2079 ἐσχάτως 1 time
Strongs 5054 τελευτή 1 time