Man and woman were made in the image of God with individuality, the power and freedom to think and to do. Though created free beings, each is an indivisible unity of body, mind, and spirit, dependent upon God for life and breath and all else. When our first parents mistrusted and disobeyed God, they denied their dependence upon Him and fell from their high position under God. The image of God in them was marred and they became subject to death. Their descendants share this fallen nature and its consequences. They are born with weaknesses and tendencies to evil. But God in Christ reconciled the world to Himself and by His Spirit restores in penitent mortals the image of their Maker. Created for the glory of God, they are called to love Him and one another, and to care for their environment.
(Gen. 1:26-28; 2:7; Ps. 8:4-8; Acts 17:24-28; Gen. 3; Ps. 51:5; Rom. 5:12-17; 2 Cor. 5:19, 20; Ps. 51:10; 1 John 4:7, 8, 11, 20; Gen. 2:15.)
“The history of the great conflict between good and evil, from the time it first began in heaven to the final overthrow of rebellion and the total eradication of sin, is also a demonstration of God’s unchanging love.”
Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 33
The Beginning of Sin and Death
The story of mankind begins good….very good, but takes a sudden turn when lies, mistrust, and disobedience enters the garden of Eden and the heart of its two occupants. We don’t know how long Adam and Eve enjoyed this perfect earth before the attack of Satan, but one day things changed for the bad…very bad.
At the encouragement of a fallen angel, our first parents chose to mistrust God and believe the lies from an angry enemy. This choice led to disobedience (sin) and ultimately death for them and the entire planet. It was a seemingly small act, but it had eternal consequences. Like a small spark in a dry forest, the deception of Satan whipped up the growing winds of disobedience and produced a consuming flame destined to destroy this planet and its people.
The only survivors, when this is all over, will be those who have yielded to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, repented, and allowed the Son of God to come into their life and to give them eternal life. God’s story is one of paradise lost (Genesis) and paradise restored (Revelation). In between these two events is the story of redemption through the love and sacrifice of our Creator. Although His image in us has been marred terribly, He, alone, has the power to restore it even among a rebellious planet of sin. He is able to save to the uttermost.
Sin had started before Adam and Eve. Satan had been removed from the presence of God to this earth because of his sin of pride and desire to be like God:
For you have said in your heart:
“I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
I will also sit on the mount of the congregation
On the farthest sides of the north;
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,
I will be like the Most High.”
Isaiah 14: 13-14
Because pride and holiness cannot exist together and the infection of rebellion endangered the other angels, Satan was cast to this earth.
So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
It is here on earth where the enemy continues with deceptions and accusations against God as untrustworthy and unmerciful. He led the first man and woman, made in the image of God, to believe the lie that we are immortal (like God) and we can be like God. He insinuated that God was holding back something that would be to their benefit. When Satan and Eve began their conversation, she repeated the words God had told Adam and her:
And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’”
But, true to his nature as the “father of lies” (John 8:44), Satan refuted God’s statement and spoke the first recorded lie:
“You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
From this pivotal moment in the young earth’s history to this very moment, the “whole world” believes the lie that the human race, or at the least our soul, is immortal.
An ancient religion advocates the idea of reincarnation and the idea that no one dies. According to this belief, after dying , the human spirit comes back as an animal or some other person. This is a lie. For God said,
“…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.”
For the wages of sin is death…
…just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—
Death is Death, Not Life
Another lie taught by modern and popular Christian preachers is the idea of an “immortal soul.” It is a catch phrase used by many popular preachers, “Your soul will not die and you will live in one of two places after death–heaven or hell.” This implies that “you will not surely die” but live forever. A careful Bible student can search the scriptures and not find the phrase “immortal soul.” Scripture states clearly that the soul is mortal (subject to death) and only God has immortality (not subject to death).
“Behold, all souls are Mine; The soul of the father As well as the soul of the son is Mine; The soul who sins shall die.
He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality
1 Timothy 6:15-16
Death is just want it says it is. Some will say that the soul or spirit goes to either hell or heaven, but this is not supported by scripture and is a work-around for the idea of complete death.
Let’s examine the Bible definition of the soul and the Bible definition of death.
In the beginning, Adam became a living soul when he was created.
And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
If you read this carefully, you can see a formula for the soul:
Dust + God’s breath = living soul
Death is the opposite:
Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.
Ecclesiastes 12: 7
Here is the verse many will cite as the Spirit going back to God. But, a careful study, even of the Greek, will show that this is not a conscious soul, but the breath God gives to bring life.
David the psalmist agrees when he wrote:
You hide Your face, they are troubled;
You take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.
The writer of Job concurs about the sustaining power of God through His very breath. The breath or spirit belongs to God.
If He should set His heart on it, If He should gather to Himself His Spirit and His breath, All flesh would perish together, And man would return to dust.
Job 34: 14-15
So the formula for death is:
Dust – God’s breath (Spirit) = Death (no longer a soul-returns to dust)
When we die the spark of life or the breath of God leaves us and we return to dust:
In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return.”
All go to one place: all are from the dust, and all return to dust.
So what is the state of man during this time?
For the living know that they will die; But the dead know nothing, And they have no more reward, For the memory of them is forgotten.
When we visit the remains of our loved ones, they do not know we are there. They are dead.
His sons come to honor, and he does not know it; They are brought low, and he does not perceive it.
So man is dead not alive when he dies. It is complete death. How can he be anything else? But, there is good news! It is found in the fact that Jesus was resurrected and will give life in the last day to those who chose to believe Him! The Bible is clear that death is like a quick sleep.
If you would like more information on Biblical proof that death is like a sleep until the Lord returns, please see:
Life and Death Confusion (Part 1).
Life and Death Confusion (Part 2).
Sin and Death-The Bad Seed Grows in our Garden
So, in the beginning it was good, but it turned bad. The bad seed infected the entire human race. This seed has sprouted in many different ways in many different times. War, anger, violence, hatred, deception, lies, infidelity, sexual sins…all had their beginning with Satan and it passed to Adam and Eve and then to our forefathers.
For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners…
How it must have broken the heart of the first parents to discover their first born son, Cain had murdered Abel! The first murder was due to jealousy producing anger and mistrusting the appeal from God. Listen to God attempting to save Cain from his own anger.
Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.
So the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”
Now Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.
Genesis 4: 4-8
Cain had the choice to listen to God, resist his urges (rule over it), but chose to listen to his own feelings and the voice of Satan. Cain’s actions are no different than any other person today who becomes angry and ignores the voice of God to “do well” and “rule over it” (sinful urge).
When we were conceived, this seed of sin is passed on to me and you!
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.
…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…
As it is written:
“There is none righteous, no, not one;
There is none who understands;
There is none who seeks after God.
They have all turned aside;
They have together become unprofitable;
There is none who does good, no, not one.”
Romans 3: 10-12
O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Romans 7: 24
There is not one of us, left alone without God, who is righteous, understanding, or a seeker after God. We are useless without God. can we be “delivered from this body of death.” Only through Jesus We can’t even do good without Him.
Can an Ethiopian change his skin
or a leopard its spots?
Neither can you do good
who are accustomed to doing evil.
Satan’s Plan Foiled
So we are all on death row with a limited time to live. But, wait! God is gracious towards us and makes a way of escape! He sent His Son to live among us (God with us), to give us an example of a life dependent completely on the strength of God the Father. Jesus would also die for our sins and pay the penalty of sin for us! At a point predicted in ancient prophecy, Jesus
“…was cut off, but not for himself” (Daniel 9:26).
Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:
And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
When Jesus died, he carried the entire weight of sin upon himself and died a death of no hope for us! What great love!
“Satan with his fierce temptations wrung the heart of Jesus. The Saviour could not see through the portals of the tomb.”
Desire of Ages, p. 753
He became the perfect sacrifice for our sins and died the death we deserved that we might have life than only He deserved. He was resurrected from death and this resurrection gives us the hope. Our hope is in His return! He promised to return to take us where He is now:
I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also
John 14: 2-3
His reward of eternal life is when He returns and no other time:
“And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me…”
The resurrection is so important that Paul said, if there is no resurrection of the dead, our faith is useless:
But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.
1 Corinthians 15: 13-14
Believing in the resurrection takes faith. If we don’t believe it, we cannot claim salvation from death.
….if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
On that great day when Jesus will return, He will raise to life those who died in Christ and those of us alive will rise to meet Him and them in the sky!
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
Before that great reunion morning, the salvation of God is saving us from the habits of sin and writing on our hearts His law through Jesus. He is saving us to the uttermost! Saved from the penalty (justification), the power (sanctification), and the presence of sin when He comes (Glorification)
He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.
That is right! We have the power to overcome our sins through the work of mediation Jesus is performing right now in the heavenly sanctuary.
For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us
Jesus knows that our condition is so bad, that we need to start over through a new birth:
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’
John 3: 5-7
The sin seed in us produced carnality and sin and has continued from birth to birth throughout all generatios. But, when Jesus, through the Spirit, comes into our life, we have a new seed planted. This seed produces the opposite of the desire of the flesh.
Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.
Here are God’s steps in the plan of salvation:
Because of sin our nature is corrupt and we are lost in at least three ways:
- We (God’s creation) once had life, but now all of us are subject to death. The tree of life was taken away from us. This very well could be a literal tree that perpetuates life. More on that another time.
- We once were in a right relationship with God, but now we are all sinners and our nature is to rebel against Him, disbelieve His words, and disobey His commands (also known as His will for us).
- We once walked in the garden with God, but now we are separated from Him physically.
But, the good…no…very good news is that God saves us every way possible! He restores all of the above because He is good and gracious towards his fallen creation! He had a plan before the foundation of the world…before he created us and before sin entered in. This plan would ensure rebellion would never rise again. This plan is revealed to us in scripture:
He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.
1 Peter 1: 20-21
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
1 Corinthians 15: 3-4
From Scripture we can understand how the plan of salvation works.
God’s Step 1-God’s grace and love is the basis for the plan.
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son…
God’s Step 2-Jesus paid the penalty of sin (death) by dying in our place at the time predicted by the ancient prophets
But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
God’s Step 3-By faith produced through the word of God and the Spirit of God, we accept this grace and receive salvation
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,
God’s grace and the faith He provides for us as a gift does not mean we can disobey God’s law (His will). This is where sin all started! Faith actually does the opposite, it establishes the law in our heart as part of the new covenant.
Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
Don’t forget, as a follower of Christ, you are of Abraham’s seed, and a spiritual Jew:
And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart,
Step 4-Jesus provided us an example as a way of life. We are to live (walk) this way by the same way we received Him (faith)
As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,
To fail to walk by faith is sin.
for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.
Even though we may have received the gift of salvation, we are instructed to “put on the whole armor of God.” This armor covers the Christian from head to toe:
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
Why are we commanded to put on the armour if there was not a possibility that Satan could attack us again as in the beginning and deceive us from the security of the Garden of God’s happiness. We must be on guard and find security in the presence of God. Like Eve, we can wander from the security of God’s presence. Eve would have never have been overcome by the enemy’s temptation if she was at the side of the One who walked with them in the cool of the morning.
While it is true that no man shall pluck us from his hand, we must be in his hand and not walking apart from him. Also, this verse does not say anything about the freedom of choice to leave. So, we must be on our guard because as Jesus told a converted Peter:
And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:
Satan wanted to make Peter fall and he did….even to the point of cursing God to prove he was not a disciple!
Years later, Peter told the believers to be on guard. He knew that Satan wanted them too…even to the point of devouring them!
Be sober, be vigilant; becauseyour adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith
1 Peter 5:8
Like a hungry lion, the enemy looks for the weak sheep. Don’t be a weak sheep, stay close to him and grow in the word and fellowship with strong believers.
Step 5: Finally, Jesus will save us from the presence of sin and change us from mortal to immortal when He returns
There is nothing more exciting in the word of God, than when mysteries are revealed. We don’t have to be in doubt about God’s ultimate plan to change us from mortal (subject to death) to immortal (not subject to death). Paul’s word are very clear. All this happens at the last trumpet when Jesus returns:
Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
1 Corinthians 15: 51-5
Here is the clearest passage in the Bible about what happens when Jesus returns:
But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope…
For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.
1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18
Let these words sink in and contemplate them closely. It is truth. This all started with the lie of Satan that we would not die. He deceived us and continues to do the same to many today. We all have an appointment with death. But, immortality awaits those who sleep in Christ. We will rejoice and worship with others, who have taken faith in Jesus, on a new earth (paradise restored) when Jesus returns.
Let it be Lord! Let it be soon!
Our hope is in His return and the resurrection.
“For as the new heavens and the new earth
Which I will make shall remain before Me,” says the Lord,
“So shall your descendants and your name remain.
And it shall come to pass
That from one New Moon to another,
And from one Sabbath to another,
All flesh shall come to worship before Me,” says the Lord.
Isaiah 66: 22-23
The tree of life was lost in the Garden (It perpetuated eternal life) because of doubt, mistrust, and disobedience to the plain instructions of God. It is returned when Jesus returns and he sets up His eternal kingdom. He gives it to those who have been redeemed by His blood of forgiveness and those who now trust and obey the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!
Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
I know that my redeemer lives,
and that in the end he will stand on the earth.
And after my skin has been destroyed,
yet in my flesh I will see God;
I myself will see him
with my own eyes—I, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!
Job 19: 2-27