Eternal death is much scarier than Halloween
by Gini Crawford, MSW
Is physical death just a grave
I am sure you aren't shocked when I say we all die physically. Every day we hear about and see death. Just turn on the internet and the main headline can easily have death in it. Someone has killed someone. A war is being fought resulting in death. A new flu is killing hundreds. A new cancer drug will hopefully save many people from death.
When we die physically our bodies are buried or cremated by one means or another. I hear freeze drying may become an option. I don't know why people would go to the expense of freeze drying their body when aging seems to do the equivalent. Yet even though our body is disposed of, our soul and spirit live on. Did you know that?
Why am I writing this devotion? Well, to be honest, I simply felt like I needed a Halloween devotion for my website. And thinking of trick or treat, what better holiday to talk about death, adding a twist of humor, and ending with its positive side. Yes, death does have a positive ending but only with the God of the Bible.
Spirits and souls live on
You might be wondering what spirit and soul mean? The distinction between spirit and soul are difficult to comprehend in the Bible, so many Bible teachers believe the words soul and spirit are simply interchangeable. Our spirit or soul cover the whole immaterial/nonphysical side of our existence, and our body of course is our physical side. Our thinking/thoughts, knowing, deciding, perceiving, feelings and emotions are functions of both the soul or spirit - our inner self. (Proverbs 16:32; Luke 1:46-47; John 12:27, 13:21; 1 Corinthians 2:11; 1 Peter 1:22). At death our spirit/soul is what lives on - who you are will live on. Since our spirit and soul live on, we are eternal beings. (Psalm 49:15; Ecclesiastes 12:7; Matthew 22:31-32 also Exodus 3:15; Acts 7:59). If you think, "Hey that doesn’t sound Halloweeny", you are right, it's very much an Easter theme.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:9-11 ESV®
The distinction between body and spirit/soul is clear. From James 2:26, "For as the body apart from the spirit is dead..." we know it is our spirit that gives us life, because the body without the spirit is dead. We could say, our bodies are a shell for living on this earth and sometime after our death, we all will be resurrected. Christians will be resurrected with a renewed body for living eternally with God (1 Corinthians 15). Now, this is the scariest part, if you don't believe in the only way to have eternal life instead of eternal death, you will get a body that will be suited to live on in hell. This is found in Acts 24:15.
...there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. Acts 24:15 NIV®
The scary truth about spiritual and physical death
Did you know the Bible talks about two types of death - physical and spiritual death. The state of both deaths began with the first sin in Genesis chapter three. God told Adam and Eve not to eat from a certain tree, and if they disobeyed Him and ate, death and its results would be introduced into the world. As most of you know, they had to eat from that one tree even though there were many other fruit trees to choose from. Their disobedience of God brought the frightening state of death to all of us. (Romans 5:12).
And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." Genesis 2:16-17 ESV®
I know some of you are wondering what in the heck is spiritual death. Spiritual death is the scary condition of being separated from God because of our sin. Death doesn't mean "extinction" as you might think, but more "a separation from". (Isaiah 59:1-2; 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9).
Adam and Eve's sin caused a separation with God, which is spiritual death. This break in relationship with God was immediately evidenced by Adam and Eve hiding from Him (Genesis 3:6-13). As soon as they sinned, their bodies began to age. The outcome of this aging is as you would guess, physical death - separation from our physical body.
Eternal death isn't what God wanted
God never wanted the state of death for us. We were not created to die but for life with God! However, Adam and Eve chose to walk away from God, and we do pretty much the same thing. Yes, if we are honest with ourselves, disobeying God is our natural way of life. To desire what God wants is supernatural. (Psalm 14:1-3; Romans 3:23; 5:12).
Because of sin, we were eternally dead to God, headed to eternal punishment in hell and without the hope of eternal life. What did He do to stop the horror of eternal death for us? Ephesians 2:1-5 explains that sin puts us in a state of death, but God's love gives us the state of eternal life through Jesus Christ.
In the past you were spiritually dead because of your disobedience and sins. At that time you followed the world's evil way; you obeyed the ruler of the spiritual powers in space, the spirit who now controls the people who disobey God. Actually all of us were like them and lived according to our natural desires, doing whatever suited the wishes of our own bodies and minds. In our natural condition we, like everyone else, were destined to suffer God's anger. But God's mercy is so abundant, and his love for us is so great, that while we were spiritually dead in our disobedience he brought us to life with Christ. It is by God's grace that you have been saved. ESV®
In 2 Thessalonians, Paul explains the chilling effects of sin in our lives, which places us in a state of eternal death. This state of eternal death is temporary but becomes permanent when a person is determined to reject God and His good news of salvation through Jesus (Proverbs 14:12). This hardness of heart puts a person in an eternal state of punishment away from our loving God. Now that's the most frightening scenario in the universe. Yet, God keeps pursuing us with His love right up until our physical death because He never wanted to punish us.
... with a flaming fire, to punish those who reject God and who do not obey the Good News about our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, separated from the presence of the Lord... 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 GNT®
What did God do to save us from ourselves and get rid of the consequences of sin? God the Son, Jesus, stepped out of eternity to become one of us. He died in our place, by one of the most tortuous deaths wicked humans could invent. And if that wasn't enough, Jesus whose character is completely absent of sin, whose whole being instinctively abhors sin, took our sin upon Himself. 2 Corinthians 5:21 paints this beautiful expression of God's love for us in what Jesus Christ did for us.
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21 NASB1995®
Sin is not a treat but to be feared
It is so important to treat sin as something to be feared, much more than the scariest themes that Hollywood puts the label Halloween on. Here is a gruesome but true illustration. Many years ago when we lived in Southern California, there was a serial killer called "the Night Stalker". This killer would break into a home about once a week. He would torture and kill his victim or victims. He tended to write and draw eerie Satanic stuff on the wall near his victim. (Was he led by demons? Anyone that does what he did, I would most definitely say, "Yes!") As you can imagine everyone was paranoid and kept their windows shut and locked no matter how hot it got, even during the day. I remember even though we were fairly far from his murderous territory, we were very careful to make sure our house was locked up even during the day. This was because who knows what a man like that would do next.
I think you get the picture; sin is like a serial killer in your life, so you need to fear it. Sin tricks you, so treat it like a poison piece of candy. Ask God to keep you away from it. (Romans 6:10-23).
Jesus Christ's death on the cross paid the penalty for your sins so you can have eternal life, not eternal death. We could say God Himself died so you would not permanently be in a state of death. The only thing God asks you to do is believe in Jesus Who conquered sin so you can have life. Now that's Easter. Do you believe in Jesus Christ? If yes, then you are a Christian, and not spiritually dead anymore, but headed to heaven. If you don't believe in Jesus, then you are eternally dead with no hope of changing that and headed to hell. That's Halloween and believe me that is not what you want. Mediate on: Romans John 3:16-18, 8:1-2, 31-39.
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