WHY YOU ARE DEAD … ALTHOUGH YOU’RE ALIVE
The question came to my mind out of the blue. Or was it the Holy Spirit’s way of teaching me?
The question was, why am I, or was I, spiritually dead? Was it because I have sinned? There are Scriptures that seem to say so. Or was it because as a believer, I died with Jesus Christ? And there are Scriptures that seem to say so. Or was it because it is my intention to give up the old Me so that Christ can live fully in and through me? And there are Scriptures that seem to say so.
In order to understand we need to realize that there is an invisible world that includes the heavenly realm, which is not discernable through our senses nor any scientific apparatus. It is a world where time does not exist in one line dimension as we understand it. To God a thousand years is as one day and one day as one thousand years (2 Pet. 3:8). In the spirit world, you can be joined to something which happened two thousand years ago, as if that event also happened to you, even though you were not around at the time. And it has nothing to do with reincarnation, as some might say. It is simply the way fourth dimensional things work. We don’t understand it, because it falls outside our human experience and we can’t see, feel, hear, taste or smell it.
So there may be things that happened to you, that you were not aware of and did not feel. You didn’t feel dead when the Bible says you were dead in your sins. And perhaps you didn’t feel alive when you learnt that you have new life in you. What you feel is not necessarily reality. The spirit world, including the human spirit that is part of our constitution, is a reality, although it is beyond our human experience.
The moment when Adam sinned the first time, he died. His body didn’t die on that day, but he was dead spiritually. All of us are born from Adam’s seed. We were in Adam from birth, and thus born with a sin nature.
Wherfore, 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… (Rom. 5:12).
In this sense, all of humanity starts off being born spiritually dead. And unless spiritual life is imparted somehow to that person, he will remain in that state.
But there is another sense in which all believers are dead.
Long before the first man walked on this planet, God knew that the first man would sin and bring that state of death to all his descendants. So God before the foundation of the world, chose man to be in Christ so that man can be holy before Him (Eph. 1:4). And in order to satisfy His justice and righteousness, that demanded an equitable penalty for all of man’s sins, God also determined something else since the foundation of the world: the slaying of His beloved Son (Rev. 13:8). He also determined that whoever believes in His Son, will receive everlasting life (John 3:16).
This is how it works for the believer: The moment a person believes in Jesus Christ the Father plants His Seed in that believer (1 John 3:9). That Seed is none other than the incorruptible seed, by the word of God (Rom. 8:9; 1 Pet. 1:23). The believer’s spirit is now joined to Christ’s spirit (1 Cor 6:17). Jesus after resurrection has become part of Gods divine nature and which is the Holy Spirit
One may ask, how can that be? How can the excellent Spirit of Christ join with the dead-in-sin spirit of a human being?
There is a place where the spirit of Christ can meet the spirit of man. And it starts with the cup that Jesus drank in the Garden of Gethsemane. Again, let us think fourth dimensional here. It was not a literal cup. (See how the cup figures symbolically in other biblical passages as either a container of human abominations or the fury of God’s wrath: Ps. 11:6; 75:8; Isa 51:17; Jer 25:15; Ezek. 23:31-33; Rev. 14:10; 17:4; 18:6). When He drank that cup, He imbibed all the sins and suffering of mankind, past, present and future (Mat. 20:22; 26:39). It’s hard for us to imagine. Remember, in the spirit world space and time dimensions are different to what we are used to. In God’s eyes, Jesus became the embodiment of a man that committed the totality of all human sin (2 Cor. 5:21). He had to suffer and He had to die (Isa. 53:3-10).
It was on a level where Jesus had emptied Himself of all His rights and His will to do the will of His Father . It was here that He began to suffer mentally and physically like none. So much so that He sweated blood (Luk. 22:44). Having accepted the cup, Jesus was where all mankind was: alienated from God.
From that point onwards Jesus suffered like no other human being. He was mocked, spat upon, beaten and scourged. He was beaten, bloodied and disfigured like no other man (Isa. 53:14). This culminated in His death on the cross.
Since the cross, anyone can believe in Jesus Christ as Saviour. Like the thief on the cross anyone can appeal to Him for salvation. The moment that happens the believer is in union with Christ. Whatever was to happen to Christ, would happen to the believer. Again we jump back in time to the events in the Garden of Gethsemane. The Apostle Paul explains that the new identity of the believer is in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17); part and parcel of that is that we have fellowship with His sufferings (Phil. 3:10), we were crucified with Him, died with Him, buried with Him and will be resurrected like Him (Rom.6:4-7).
In Rom. 6:10-11 we read:
For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The believer was (past tense) once dead in sin, but the moment He became joined to Christ, he acquired a godly nature and henceforth he is (present tense) dead unto sin. He has also acquired eternal life in Christ and is (present tense) “alive unto God.”
Let us consider now the third way in which a believer may be dead.
In spirit, the believer is perfect in Christ. But his soul (mind) has leftovers of his sin nature and his body (flesh) is morally weak and contaminated by sin. Paul calls upon the believer to put to death (“mortify”) the deeds of the body (Rom. 8:13); to cast off the way of life of ‘the old man” (Eph. 4:22), to have the mind renewed (Rom. 12:2). This is not necessarily a present tense reality for every believer. A believer can still grieve and resist the Holy Spirit.
It is the example of Paul and Timothy that all believers can aspire to, that makes up the third meaning of death in this article, as explained in 2 Cor. 4:10-11:
Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.
So the answer to the question posed above, will depend on where you are spiritually speaking. If you don’t believe in Christ as your Savior, you are spiritually dead, because you are still in sin through your descent from Adam. But because you are reading this, I presume your body is still alive.
If you are a believer, you have been spiritually dead because you were born in sin. That was in a sense your first spiritual death. But since you believed in Jesus Christ, you were joined to Him in spirit. You were immersed into His death, even though it took place long before you were born. In that (second) sense, you also died.
Then there is a third sense that you as a believer are enjoined to die, and that is to lay down your old self, to present your body as a living sacrifice, to allow Christ who dwells in your spirit, to rule over your mind and be manifested in your body.
But since you have Christ in you, you have His life in you as a present and everlasting reality, You and I can now look forward to the resurrection when we will receive new, pure, glorified bodies.
It seems that after Jesus had drank the cup at the Garden of Gethsemane, God was beginning to distance Himself from His Son. There were no words of encouragement from the Father. No Holy Spirit in the form of a dove. But an angel came to strengthen Him. This alienation reached its climax at Jesus’ last moments on the cross, when He sensed that God had forsaken Him. Now this happened because He became sin for us. He carried all humanity’s sins. God’s righteousness and holiness made Him turn away from His Son.
This was of course a temporary thing. Yet I can’t help but wonder if the three days in the grave did not feel like three thousand years to God the Father.
The story has a happy ending. Because of Jesus’ obedience unto death God has exalted Him highly, giving Him a name above every other name at which name every knee will bow (Phil. 2:8-10).