Appendix C: The wages of sin is not physical death

Some people think that we die a physical death because of our sin. That cannot be true. Our sin results in our spiritual death (Jas 1:15), not our physical death. Jesus never sinned, but He still died physically. Enoch and Elijah were sinners, but they did not die a physical death. And those who will be raptured will not see physical death even though they are sinners. So clearly, a person’s physical death is independent of whether he is a sinner.

Further, if the wages of sin is physical death then since Christ paid the price for our sins we should never die – all believers should be taken up to heaven. If someone says, "but the saints are resurrected," I would respond saying that even those damned to hell will be resurrected (Rev 20:5-6,11-15).

Lastly, in Jn 19:30, just before He died physically Jesus said, "It is finished," indicating that He had paid the price of the sins of mankind (and also that His temptations were complete). If physical death was a penalty of sin then Jesus’ payment (and His temptations) could only have been completed after His physical death. Therefore, He could not have said that the payment was finished. The fact that He said it was finished meant that the payment was finished before He died, and thus implies that physical death was not a penalty for sin.

If one argues that Jesus meant, "It is soon to be finished" when He said, "It is finished" one would be implying that Jesus didn’t understand language well enough or used tenses loosely. To lend credibility to his point such a person would have to show other places in Scripture where Jesus exhibited this behavior.

Some theologians propose that God allows the saints to die a physical death to sanctify them. There is no solid Scripture to support this hypothesis. Physical death is not the ultimate terror if you know that you are saved, but being tortured repeatedly is. Also, it is more difficult to suffer in the flesh and stop sinning than to die a physical death. So there are better ways to test or sanctify believers than physical death. Thus the proposal that God allows the saints to die a physical death to sanctify them is invalid.

Some theologians propose that God allows the saints to die a physical death to get them to be more serious about their Christian walk and earn a better reward. Any righteousness done out of the fear of death or due to the nearness of death is done with a selfish motive (such as to earn a better reward) and is not going to result in any reward because the motive is not pure. Such works will be burned in the Day of Judgment just like wood, hay and stubble (1 Cor 3:12-15). Thus the proposal that God allows the saints to die a physical death to get them to be more serious about their Christian walk and earn a better reward is invalid.

There are only two alternatives: either physical death is included in the wages of sin, or it isn’t – there is no third alternative.

If one says that physical death is included in the wages of sin then one has to explain:

  • Why Enoch and Elijah did not die? Why did God make an exception for them? God does not make exceptions arbitrarily. If He does, one would have to give examples to show that He does.
  • Why do those who are born again die?
  • Why did God prohibit Adam and Eve from eating of the tree of life if they were anyway bound to die as wages for their sin?

To show that physical death is not included in the wages of sin all that remains for me to show is that Christ’s physical death was not the payment for sin, but was required for initiating the new covenant. I have shown this in another section.

To live forever (i.e. to never die physically) man must eat from the tree of life (Gen 3:22). The Bible records no way for man to live forever other than eating from the tree of life. Therefore, since God has made it impossible for man to eat of the tree of life (Gen 3:24) until the end of time (Rev 22:2) man must die physically (or be raptured (1 Thess 4:17)). Thus we can say that man experiences physical death because he cannot eat from the tree of life.

Man was created in such a way that he needs to eat from the tree of life to live forever. Even before they sinned, Adam and Eve would have died had they never eaten of the tree of life. If you disagree, consider this: if man was created to live forever from the beginning without eating from the tree of life then what would be the point of putting the tree of life in the Garden of Eden, or in the New Jerusalem for that matter? And what would be the point of God mentioning the tree of life in the Bible?

Gen 3:22 makes it clear that even after Adam sinned he would have lived forever had he eaten from the tree of life. Thus physical life and death is dependent only on whether one has access to the tree of life or not – it is independent of whether a person sins or not.




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