God gave instructions to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden concerning what could be eaten and what could not be eaten. God told them, concerning the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. (Genesis 2:17)
What happened to Adam and Eve when they disobeyed God? They did not disintegrate or turn to dust the same day they ate of the forbidden fruit, although the process of physical death started that day. They ate of the forbidden fruit and were separated from God. They died immediately. The first death was spiritual death. Spiritual death is separation from God.
Before Adam and Eve disobeyed, they walked in fellowship with God in the Garden. After they sinned, they hid from God. Adam and Eve were separated from God by their disobedience. Sin entered the world through Adam’s disobedience and death by sin (Romans 5:12).
Spiritual death came first and physical death came as a result of spiritual death. The Scriptures speak of individuals being dead while they live. These are the spiritually dead. The unbelieving are separated from God by their sin. All have sinned and are condemned already because of unbelief (John 3:18).
Death is separation. Physical death is separation from the body. Spiritual death is separation from God. The immaterial part of man, be it his soul or spirit, or his soul and spirit is separated from the body in physical death and is separated from God in spiritual death. Because of Adam’s sin we are born into this world dead in trespasses and sin (Ephesians 2:1,5), separated from God. This is the proper view of death and it supports the substitutionary death of Christ on the cross and His eternal existence.
The wages of sin is death. Jesus Christ died in our place. Was He annihilated (ceased to exist) for us or was He separated from the Father when He paid our sin penalty?
If the penalty of our sin is annihilation of the soul (cessation of being) and Christ took the penalty of our sin upon Himself when He died on the cross, then at that moment He had to have ceased to exist. This is unthinkable! How did we get here? The faulty view of death from the teaching of annihilation of the soul brought us here. Faulty premises lead to faulty conclusions.
When Jesus Christ became sin for us and died in our place there was separation between the Father and the Son. Jesus’ words on the cross prove that; My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46). The fellowship between the Father and the Son from eternity past was broken when our sin was laid on Christ and the Father poured out His wrath upon Him, but there was no separation in their essence or oneness as God. This is consistent with the doctrine of the Trinity.
The biblical view of death as separation supports Christ’s substitutionary death and preserves the doctrine of His eternal existence.
No suggested interpretation of a Bible passage can be correct if it is not also correct for every Bible passage on the same topic.*
…let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…