LIFE & DEATH – WHAT IS IT, REALLY? BY KIANG P LEE

Greetings again Friends!

People think of death mainly in a physical sense. We mourn the death of loved ones, family, and close friends. We grieve the demise of our leaders, people we admire and respect, and those we look up to. But there is a death more real than physical death. It is a death that is spiritual and more deadly than physical death. Although spiritual, it is a death we experience physically and its effect is seen and felt all around us today. Most don’t know what this death looks like because they can’t see let alone understand it for what it truly is, and what it is doing to them. Death is not just the end of physical life, for as we shall see, we experience death’s consequence in everyday life. So if death reigns in the human experience, then what must life look like? It must be something out of this world. Indeed, it is!

God revealed to man from the beginning what this death is, what it looks like, and what it truly means. After Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, disbelieving God’s word for them over what Satan the devil said about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, He summarily told them what the outcome of their decision was: death! (Gen.3) This is where death began, its origin began with Satan and Adam’s decision. Death is not just the mere end of human life, but the negative effects of human experience is part and parcel of death. Jealousy, rage, greed, covetousness, hatred, war, sicknesses, selfishness, etc, etc. Imagine a world where we no longer live in an environment created by these negative triggers.

But it was an evil scheme hatched by Satan to wrest man’s dominion of this earth given him by God. (Gen.1:28, KJV; Matt.11:8-10) It was not a death that was physical, Adam and Eve did not just drop dead, physically speaking. His spirit became in a dead/sinful state. The Bible tells us, “The wages of sin is death,” spiritually speaking. Adam died spiritually – the spirit of life in him died. In that state, Adam did not have the basis upon which to hold his dominion on this earth. How can he, for his dead spirit means he’s disconnected from God who gave him dominion over earth. God is the “God of the living not the dead” (Mark.12:27). Adam will not have legs to stand on to resist the wiles and deception of Satan. In fact, from here on man becomes Satan’s prisoner. Thereby man is deprived of his dominion upon earth, for now Adam lives under the influence of the devil, held in the chains of bondage and death. This is what true death looks like, to be a prisoner of the devil.

Arlington National Cemetery. Death is More Than Physical. There’s Spiritual Death. (Wiki Commons)

God gave Adam and Eve adequate prior warning, listen to the account: “Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil…The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die” (Gen.2:8-9, 15-17). If God say “certainly” or “surely” then you know absolutely a part of man died. God does not play with words, “Your word, LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens” (Psa.119:89). His word is sure and dependable.

Paul told Timothy, “Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner” (1 Tim.2:14). Recall, the instruction was given to Adam before Eve was created. So she most likely got the instruction about the tree of life and the forbidden fruit from Adam. But Adam took responsibility because God made him leader and in charge. “Adam was formed first, then Eve,” Paul told Timothy. (1 Tim.2:13) Something happened to our first parents when they rebelled against God’s clear instruction, “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves” (Gen. 3:6-7). They were naked from day one of their creation, what made them “see” their nakedness now? Let’s read the dialog between God and mankind’s first parents.

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Garden of Eden (Wiki Commons)

“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”  He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”  The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”  Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

“So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” (Gen.3:8-15). God told Satan, and promised man, a second Adam will come to deliver man from the prison of death the devil has incarcerated mankind.

God told Adam directly and unambiguously, “The moment you eat from that tree you’re dead” (Gen.2:17, emphasis added). The question is, what died? Adam and Eve were still alive and well, physically speaking, other than being conscious of their nakedness, and fearing God for their disobedience. What died was Adam’s spirit. In other words, whereas his spirit was alive when he and his wife related with God in the beautiful Garden of Eden, now his spirit became dead because of his decision to disobey God. Adam’s rebellion was sin, and sin brought death. Paul asserts this truth, saying, “The wages of sin id death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom.6:23). They were expelled from Eden and from life which emitted from God’s presence. The ‘spirit of life’ in Adam was given to him by God at creation giving him authority to relate with God through Love (Holy Spirit, Rom.5:5), “Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being (soul)” (Gen.2:7). Through Adam’s disobedience his spirit became in a sinful/dead state, and passed from him to mankind generationally through multiplication to our day – today: “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, ‘Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion’  (Gen.1:28).

Jesus said something vital about life and death, “Life is spiritual. Your physical existence doesn’t contribute to that life. The words that I have spoken to you are spiritual. They are life.” (John 6:63, God’s Word T). If your physical life doesn’t add a smidgen of spiritual vigor in your life, what does? Answer, the Holy Spirit! Man’s human spirit does not exist independently, it is spawned and bred by and in the Spirit of God. (Gen.2:7) So, Adam’s fleshly (physical) life don’t amount to much if his spirit is dead. How can Adam’s spirit offer life, physical and spiritual, if it is dead? Man’s spirit is either alive through the Holy Spirit’s Love, or dead through Satan’s deception. Hence, man has become the devil’s prisoner, for he is the author of darkness and death. The “death” of the ‘spirit of life’ God gave man simply means man’s physical activity in every sphere of life is now motivated by the devil’s rebellious spirit which leads to ultimate physical death. But God’s promise is immortality by a resurrection. (1 Cor.15:50-57) No amount of good intentions will rescue us from this deathly spiral to spiritual and physical extinction. On the other hand, the spirit of life in man “lives” when he is driven by the Holy Spirit. The wisdom of Solomon makes this plain, “The human spirit is the lamp of the LORD that sheds light on one’s inmost being” (Prov.20:27). From this, we understand the physical activities in man’s world is triggered by the toing and froing taking place in the spiritual realm. (Job 2:1-4) Hence we read, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the power of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph.6:12). The spirit-world is more real because it affects the material world we see around us.

Paul affirms this generational diffusion of man’s spirit in its dead state of existence, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned… Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous” (Rom.5:12, 18-19). The evil we see all over the world today is proof of man’s state of death (sin) in his spirit under the devil.

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The Earth Given to Man for His Dominion, But Usurped by The Devil. (The Earth Seen From Apollo 17 – Wiki Commons)

When Adam’s spirit died he became spiritually naked, but it manifested physically – they “realized they were naked (physical).”  God is making a point: i.e.our actions resulting from a dead spirit (unseen) has negative physical consequences (seen). Everything we see around us are manifestations of the condition of man’s spirit-life, and what happens in the spirit-world. To kill, steal, and destroy, are physical manifestations of our dead spiritual condition. (Eph.6:12). God says, “Whoever finds Me finds life” (Pro.8:35).

Only in death man is physically laid naked to return to the earth from which he was taken, hence, they “realized they were naked.” Jesus said, “I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness” (Rev.3:18). Man’s spirit when it’s alive in the Spirit’s power is not naked. John said of believers, “It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” (Rev. 19:8) So, we can see from these biblical metaphors that Adam’s spirit was naked and spiritual dead in sin. We have inherited the same dead spirit from Adam. As we read earlier, Jesus said, “Life is spiritual. Your physical existence doesn’t contribute to that life” (John 6:63). Your physical existence is merely a reflection of your spiritual life, be it dead or alive.

As long as Adam and Eve remained faithful to God’s command, their spirit was alive and living under the influenced of His Love. The moment they expressed disbelief in God’s command they disconnected themselves from the Spirit of God which gives life (Love) to their spirit. Once they expressed belief in Satan’s words of deception, their spirit succumbed to the devil’s dark world of wickedness and their spirit died. Metaphorically, man becomes the “walking dead” – alive physically, but dead spiritually. This does not mean God has left mankind to the whims of the enemy, for He promised to rescue man by sending a second Adam, the Messiah, who would come to right what Adam wronged. (Gen.3:14-15; 1 Cor.15:45) God’s sovereignty over all, including His enemies, remains unquestionable. (You may read Ezekiel 36 where the words “Sovereign Lord” is used 7 times in seven verses).

But freedom is part of the Triune God’s nature as much as Love is. Love cannot preside over a relationship where there is no freedom to choose. (Gal. 5:1; Rom.8:2) God wants our hearts, not our legalistic and mechanical obedience. Adam was given freedom even to rebel, if he chose to follow such a path. And he had experienced God’s Love, so he had a choice between life and death, he was given the freedom of choice. But God tells us to choose wisely: “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live” (Deut.30:19). Freedom comes with the responsibility to Love, and we will certainly lie on the bed we choose to make.

As a passing observation, this tells us how important our faith is in life. We act upon what we believe to be true (faith), therefore, it is imperative to guard the door of our faith vigilantly, for John warns us, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). (Read my installment on “Jesus Faith” posted on 07/26/2014) 

The Second Adam

It was not until Jesus Christ, the second Adam, came on the scene over four thousand years later, that He revived man’s dead spirit back to life by the power of the Holy Spirit. (1 Cor.15:45) He was the Immanuel (God in the flesh) who took our humanity upon Himself to regenerate it and bring new life to our once dead spirits. (Isa.7:14; Matt.1:23) Paul told Titus, “He (Jesus) saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). When Jesus told Nicodemus, “You must be born again,” it was about bringing back to life man’s spirit that was in a dead state through Adam’s disobedience (sin). He said, “No one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit’ (John 3:7, 5). It is the Spirit who brings the spirit of man back to life as God gave it originally to Adam. Jesus said the Spirit is the “river of living waters springing from our innermost being” giving life to our once dead spirit. (John 7:38-39) (For our reader’s information, the title of this Blog Site is called, Bulamanriver. The word is a metaphor for life and living in the Spirit’s power. The etymology of Bulamanriver comes from three words: ‘bula,’ ‘man,’ and ‘river.’  Bula is a Fijian word which means “life.” (Fiji is an independent South Pacific Island nation). Man is God’s creation in whom God breathed the “breadth of life” or the spirit of life in man. (Gen. 2:7) River is the metaphor for God’s Love flowing in humans through the Spirit. (John 7: 37-39. Rom.5:5) 

Paul wrote, “But God is so rich in mercy, and He loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, He gave us life when He raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For He raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus” (Eph.2:4-6). This is not about the afterlife, it speaks of the believer’s state of existence through the Spirit today. Whereas Jesus came and took our humanity upon Himself to bring us life and retake our dominion of this earth, Satan’s devilish scheme was to put man to death to wrest his dominion and keep it for himself.

So, Jesus came and defeated Satan in the temptations, accomplishing what Adam failed to do (1); He lived a perfect life in the Spirit doing nothing but good (2), and died as the sacrificial lamb for man’s sins (3). He was resurrected an immortal divine/human Son, and ascended to sit on the Father’s throne in heaven as mankind’s High Priest (4). Before He was crucified, He promised the disciples to send the Holy Spirit to be with believers “forever” (5). In other words, what happened to man through the first Adam, Jesus has reversed once and for all and restituted all things to God (6). Satan’s defeated means the end of his reign of death over mankind once for all time (7). Paul comforts us with these words, “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will He not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Rom.8:31-39). Such is the depth of God’s Love to give us life and save us from death!  

(1) Matt.4:1-11 (2) Acts 10:38; Matt.9:35, 12:15 (3) Rev.13:8; John 3:16 (4) 1 Cor.15:4; Heb.7:16-17, 10:12 (5) John 14:16; Eph.1:13-14 (6) Acts 3:21 (7) Rev.20:2).

Spirit in Man – Dead or Alive? (Wiki Commons)

The work of the Spirit to revive man’s spirit is revealed in God’s ‘covenant promise’ to man as follows, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezek.36:26; Heb.8:10). Yes, the heart of stone is the dead spirit Satan activated through Adam’s rebellion. And yes, the Spirit will bring man’s spirit back to life, and keeping it alive, like a fountain of living waters gushing from our innermost being. It must be by the living human spirit, energized by the Holy Spirit, that the flesh is to be saved from eternal death.(Rom.8:13)

Man’s spirit of life (human spirit) alone, which God breathed into Adam at creation, was given to define his humanity authorizing and enabling him to communicate with God His purpose and man’s destiny. When God said, “My Spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be a hundred and twenty years,” (Gen 6:3) it means as long as God’s Spirit is communicating with man’s spirit, then man remains alive – both spiritually and physically. The moment God ceases to strive or preside over man’s destiny, then man ceases to exist and is dead. By saying “My Spirit shall not always strive with man,” means God is always striving (working out His purpose) with man unless something prevents His purpose occurring. So, soon after uttering the above words, God brought the flood to end all life on the earth with the exception of the eight in Noah’s ark. And God gave His reasons for bringing the flood, “the wickedness of man and every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was evil continually” (Gen. 6:3).

God has wrapped all of creation in His Love – Love is His life, for “God is Love” (1 John 4:8). The only place where His life (Love) is missing is in man’s heart because he chose the way of death through Adam. Jesus, the second Adam, has repaired that. The spirit of life in man was given to forever connect us to God’s purpose of making us into His image and likeness of Love. (Gen.1:26-27) And this happens when man’s spirit is alive to the Holy Spirit, not dead to the devil. Jesus said of His Father, “He is not the God of the dead, but of the living” (Mar.12:27). Jesus also said, “But the time is coming–indeed it’s here now–when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship Him that way” (John 4:23). The word ‘worship’ has been couched in so much legalism we have lost its authentic meaning. Worship is not about coming to church once a week every Sunday. It means simply to have an authentic Loving relationship with our heavenly Father through Jesus, which we choose with our free will, that’s energized by the Spirit. We worship what and whom we freely Love. 

Of course the spirit of life in man is not self-sufficient, it needs God’s Spirit to guide and help him, and ultimately to bring him to immortality, for that’s God likeness – He’s immortal and eternal! Only the Holy Spirit can change man from mortal to immortality. (1 Cor.15:12-58) So, man’s spirit plus God’s Spirit, amounts to immortal humans. The prophet Ezekiel quotes God also saying, “You shall surely live” (immortality). Note, “And if I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely die,’ (as was said of Adam) but they then turn away from their sin and do what is just and right...they will surely live” (Ezek.33:14,16). No human on his own can turn away from his sin – the only way is to be forgiven of all sin in Jesus’ blood, and then be continuously sanctified, or, “do what is just and right,” through the work of the Spirit. (1 John 1:17; 1 Thess.5:23; 1 Pet.1:2)

Only Jesus is the first human who has attained to this glorious purpose of the Father – the resurrection of humans to immortality. He is the firstborn of immortalized humans of others who will follow in the resurrection of the dead. (Rom.8:29) Paul said this of the Holy Spirit and man’s immortality, “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption (immortality) of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of His glory.” (Eph.1:13-14, my emphasis). Yes, the Holy Spirit is God’s “down-payment” in you guaranteeing your immortality. Again, emphasizing the centrality of faith, “when you believe” – the Spirit is the gift of your faith in Christ, your Messiah. (Rom.8:9)  As for those who died in the faith, Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me will live, even though they die (physically)” (John 11:25). That is God’s final answer to death and sin – immortality!

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The Resurrection to Immortality – God’s Final Answer to Death (Statue of Fountain of Eternal Life, Downtown Cleveland, Ohio, USA – Wiki Commons)

Last Word on Death

The last word on death is revealed in the Bible, and goes as follows, “I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”

“O death, where is your victory? 

“O death, where is your sting?” 

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor.15:50-57). What comforting words about the final demise and defeat of man’s public enemy #1 – death!

The question is, are you dead or alive in your spirit… is the Spirit energizing your spirit life so death does not reign, and has no place, in your life? God is “the God of the living, not the dead.” If you believe with all your heart that Jesus is God’s One and only Son, that He came as the second Adam to rescue us from Satan’s prison of death; that He defeated the enemy for us in the wilderness of Judea, and was sacrificed on Calvary for our sins; He was resurrected and ascended to heaven, and He sent us the promised Holy Spirit to revive our spirit which was dead and make us alive in Him, then you can live again in your spirit, and through God’s Spirit, live a life that’s truly life, and be guaranteed immortality in the Father’s presence forever. (John 3:16; 1 Tim.6:19) This is the Gospel!

I hope you have been greatly encouraged by these words from our Father and the God of all mankind – “the God of the living, not the dead!”. (Mar.12:27)

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to write me in the space provided below, or email me on bulamanriver@gmail.com.

Blessing:

Until we meet again in my next post, may the blessing of the God who ceaselessly expresses Himself in His dependable Triune Love, be with you always. May the Spirit enliven your spirit and make all things concerning you possible as you live the Triune Living as a Bulamanriver.*  Be strong in the Lord’s joy.

Kiang,  

Bulamanriver” is the metaphor describing the union of man with the Love of the Triune God flowing in humans, making possible the “Triune Life” – the source of the miraculous life in man. To read the many facets of life of the Bulamanriver, go to my website www.bulamanriver.com where you can order a copy of my Book.

All scriptures are taken from the NIV Version 2011, unless stated otherwise.

Note: All information is copy write. Any information obtained from this website that is used for publication should be acknowledged by citing the website address, date of acquisition and information pertinent to original authorship. For general guidelines regarding web citations see The Guide for Citing Electronic Information

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