CHAPTER 7-THE PUNISHMENT OF SIN-NUMBER 2
"The wages of sin is death, "God said to Adam, concerning the forbidden fruit, "in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (#Ge 2:17). This threatened penalty of death was not pronounced upon Adam as a private individual merely, but as a public and representative person. It was a race penalty. "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned" (#Ro 5:12). The first sin was a race sin and the penalty thereof must have been a race penalty. The whole human race was in Adam, the first man, both seminally and legally, and his act was considered as their act; not personally but representatively. Every man by nature is guilty with Adam's guilt, just as every believer is righteous with Christ's righteousness. Believers are not righteous personally, that is, by their own obedience; they are righteous representatively by the obedience of Christ, their Surety.
The death threatened against, and passed unto, all men was not a corporeal death merely. Physical death is a mere incident and is not universal. There have been two notable exceptions (Enoch and Elijah), and there will be many alive, who will not die physically, when the Lord returns. "We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed...for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed" (#1Co 15:51,52). Furthermore, physical death did not occur until some 930 years after the sin was committed; whereas God said, "in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (#Gen 2:17).
The death which passed unto all men was the loss of divine favor and exposedness to divine wrath. It was not the death of man considered as a physical being but as a moral and accountable being. Moral death was the result of a break with God. Man broke with God when he tried to seize the reins of government and do as he pleased. Sin separates from God and brings His condemnation. Physical death is the result of the separation of the body and spirit "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also" (#Jas 2:26). Moral death is the result of separation of man as a moral being from God. The sinner, although alive physically, is alienated from the life of God "Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart" (#Eph 4:18); "And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled" (#Col 1:21).
The words life and death are antonyms, and it is axiomatic that a man cannot be both dead and alive in the same sense at the same time. But one may be dead in one sense and alive in another sense at the same time. This is obvious from the saying of our Lord: "But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead" (#Mt 8:22). He meant for those dead morally to bury the physical dead.
Life and death are not synonyms of existence and non-existence, but rather of condition of existence. Death never means non-existence or the cessation of being. In the moral sense life is a condition of existence, and death is the opposite condition of existence. To have life as a moral being is to exist under the favor of God and to be free from the wrath to come. To be dead as a moral being is to exist without His favor and to be exposed to His wrath. This will become more apparent as we continue these discussions.
The second death is punishment in the lake of fire. And this will be for both soul and body of the lost. Physical death is not everlasting, for "there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust" (#Ac 24:15). Death (dead bodies) and hades (lost souls) are to be cast into the lake of fire. "And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death" (#Re 20:14). And this is the second death. We will not here and now give proof that the second death is eternal. This will come out in a later article (D.V.). However, it does not seem reasonable that the fire will burn them up in the sense of putting them out of conscious existence. If this were true the only difference between the martyred saints and the wicked would be in time and place of suffering. The martyrs (many of them) were burned to death, and if their tormentors are only to be burned up and put out of existence, then their salvation was not the previous thing they supposed it to be. A brother who believes in conditional immortality wrote me that he knew of no Scripture that taught that the wicked would suffer in hell longer than five minutes. Cheap salvation! Sweet morsel to the wicked! If that were true.
Man is both a physical and a psychic being, that is, he has both body and soul. As a physical being his body was made of the same substance as that of the beasts of the field. "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...And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof" (#Ge 2:7,19). As a psychic being he became a living soul when God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life (Heb. lives). This is not said concerning the origin of the soul of the beast. The beast has a soul (this will be proven later), but it did not get its soul like man got his. Man as the acme of creation was made in the image of God, which must mean that he has something which does not belong to the beast of the field. This image of God in man is spirit. God is a Spirit and man must have a spirit to be in His image. In making man a living soul, God communicated to him that which made him in His image. Man, by virtue of his creation, has a body and a soul which gives him kinship with the beasts, but he also has a spirit which relates him to God. F.W. Grant makes a very helpful distinction between the soul and spirit:
"The 'soul, 'is in Scripture the seat of the passions, emotions, sensibility, as the spirit of the mental and moral judgment. These latter, in any real sense, the beast has not. The spirit it is which is in man, which knows the things of a man "For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God" (#1Co 2:11). But he learns them, gathering the materials of judgment through the soul-the senses; and as the body begins to develop before even the soul, so does the soul before the spirit. Spirit in man depends, thus, really upon the soul; and it is striking that just when absent from the body his real distinction begins to manifest it self. The soul survives, indeed, the stroke of death; but is now called what he never was before, a `spirit' "But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit....Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have" (#Lu 24:37,39); "For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both. And there arose a great cry: and the scribes that were of the Pharisees' part arose, and strove, saying, We find no evil in this man: but if a spirit or an angel hath spoken to him, let us not fight against God" (#Ac 23:8,9); "To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect" (#Heb 12:23): "By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; "(#1Pe 3:19).
Grant tells us that man is called Adam, from Adamah (Heb.), the ground, to remind him of his origin "dust thou art"; and he is called a soul to remind him of his likeness to the beasts; but he is never called a spirit until after he takes his departure from the body. We read of the spirits of just men made perfect, and of spirits in prison.
Man as a physical and also a moral being is subject to two kinds of death: namely, physical and moral. There is only one physical death for any man. "It is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgment" (#Heb 9:27). Notice the accuracy of Scripture. It is not "man" the generic, but "men" as individuals. Physical death is not appointed for "man" the whole race, but for men. We have already pointed out exceptions.
Man considered as a moral being may experience two deaths: the first and the second. All who are saved will experience but one death; all who are not saved will experience two deaths. "He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death" (#Re 2:11). Nobody has escaped the first death, for that death passed upon all men.
The first death is also clearly defined in the Scriptures. It is to be "dead in law, "or judicial death. It is to be dead in trespasses and sins. It is death in the sense of guilt and depravity. It is the death of condemnation. The antithesis of judicial death is "justification of life." "Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life" (#Ro 5:18). "He that heareth my word and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life" (#Joh 5:24). Everlasting life is equivalent to justification and is opposed to condemnation. As a moral being the believer is justified by God, and will never be condemned. He has passed out from under the curse of God's law and exists under the favor of God. Life and death in the judicial sense are generally overlooked by commentators.
The believer is told to "reckon himself as dead to sin and alive to God through Jesus Christ" (#Ro 6:11). This means that the believer is dead to the guilt of sin--no longer exposed to the wrath of God; and that he is alive or justified before God by virtue of the imputed righteousness of Christ. We also have this aspect of life and death in I #Joh 5:12: "He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life." And again in #Joh 3:36: "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." The sword of divine justice hangs over the head of the unbeliever; the benedictions of the heavenly Father are pronounced upon the believer in Christ.