Appendix B: What is spiritual death?

The concept of spiritual death is found in the Bible. For example, when Paul tells the Ephesians that they were once dead in their trespasses and sins (Eph 2:1) he obviously cannot be referring to physical death. Therefore he must be referring to spiritual death.

Eph 2:1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,

What is spiritual death? Spiritual death is eternal destruction, which is a permanent separation from God and the glory of His power (2 Thess 1:9).

2 Thess 1:9 These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,

The first death is a physical death, and the second death is a spiritual death, which is also seen as condemnation to the lake of fire (Rev 20:14-15).

Rev 20:14-15 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

It is important to understand what spiritual death is like so that we can appreciate what we are saved from.

What is it like to be permanently separated from God and the glory of His power? We do not really know what that is like because none of us have really experienced it.

However, God has allowed sickness, pain and suffering in this world so that we can get a glimpse of what it might be like. Imagine the following things and you will get some idea of what spiritual death is like:

  • Being in jail for life, and life is forever.
  • Living in the sewer with rats and cockroaches forever.
  • Having Parkinson’s disease or a painful cancer forever.
  • Being loathed forever by the girl whom you dearly love forever.
  • Being hungry and thirsty forever.
  • Being raped forever.
  • Suffocating forever.
  • Being in fire forever.

The place where spiritual death is experienced is the lake of fire (Rev 20:14,15). Therefore, besides the pictures above, we can also understand what spiritual death will be like from what the Bible says about the lake of fire, and of hell, since hell will ultimately be cast into the lake of fire (Rev 20:14,15).

  • Spiritual death is a burning torment.
  • The lake of fire is pictured as a fiery place (Mt 5:22; Mt 18:9) place where you feel a burning sensation (Rev 19:20) that torments you forever and ever (Rev 20:10). It is like putting your hand in the fire forever where it feels the pain of being burnt but never actually getting burnt.

  • Spiritual death results in destruction.
  • Hell is pictured as a place where the body and soul is destroyed (Mt 10:28).

  • Spiritual death is eternal.
  • There is no hope of things ever getting better. The fire is unquenchable (Mk 9:43) and eternal (Mt 18:8; Mt 25:41). Eternity is a long time compared to any finite time interval. If we find it hard to suffer torment now, think how hard it will be for us to suffer it forever.

Knowing that spiritual death is such a terrible thing we can be glad that God has provided us a way to escape spiritual death.

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