Don’t Stay Dead
Genesis 2:7-9, 15-17; ch 5:5; Romans 3:23
We all know the story. God created Adam and Eve, placed them in the Garden of Eden, and gave them one simple rule: Do not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In the day you eat thereof you will surely die. But Adam lived 930 years. 2 Peter 3:8 states that “with the Lord one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years is as one day”.
God created man with the potential to live forever, but when man sinned a new process began in his body: He started dying. Since that day every person who ever lived either has or will die. The Bible does give us two exceptions, Enoch who walked with God and God took him, and Elijah who was taken to heaven in a chariot of fire. The fact is that since Adam sinned, every person who has ever lived started the process of dying the very moment they were born. Even the planet began the process of death at that time. God created the world with order and structure. He even gave Adam a job to do (dress the garden and keep it) so that his life would have structure. But since the fall the nature of all things is chaos. Nothing left to itself will ever develop from chaos to order but all things go from order to chaos. This one fact is immutable evidence of an intelligent creator. A sand castle never “just happens” on a beach. Some person had to make it. Once it is made it soon begins the process of destruction. After a few hours it looks like just a pile of sand, and after one tide cycle there is no evidence that there ever was a sand castle. With every product we use in our day-to-day lives, somebody took raw materials (chaos) and with intelligence, planning, and some effort, turned otherwise useless materials into objects that make our lives easier. And as soon as that product is put to use it begins to wear out. It proceeds toward chaos. Death.
“In the day that you eat thereof… you shall die.” No man ever lived one thousand years. Romans 5:12 states “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for all have sinned.”
Ever since this time, man has looked for ways to live forever, and every time they brought judgment upon themselves and God shortened the years of a normal lifespan. Remember the Spanish explores searching for “the fountain of youth”? We have fitness shops, diet plans, plastic surgery, and all sorts of things that we use to try to live longer and look younger. But we still all die.
There is really no way to avoid it. Some people call it the “circle of life”. The Bible calls it the “wages of sin”. No one is exempt for “all have sinned and come short of the Glory of God”. So because Adam ate the fruit, all of humanity is contaminated and destined to die. He couldn’t handle ONE SIMPLE RULE! Now although Adam lived for several hundred years afterwards, there had to be an immediate death as well. Adam and Eve wove fig leaves together in a vain attempt to hide their guilt and shame. But God took the life of an animal and used its skin to make clothes for them.
Our own efforts will never take away the stain of sin on our lives. As long as we are alive our flesh will crave sin, and sin will always bring death. No matter how good we think we are or how much we do for the less fortunate among us we will never be good enough to please God and escape death. Not just physical death, but spiritual death. That’s the real death. The book of Revelation says it’s the Lake of Fire, a place of eternal torment. It’s an eternal death, meaning the soul remains conscious, never ending in its torment; a death that continues forever.
You see, God is a Holy God and he will never tolerate sin. Sin is in the world but neither sin nor any thing that is contaminated by sin will ever be in His glorious presence. Sin and sinners will NOT go to heaven.
But this does not mean that there is no hope. When God pronounced judgment upon Adam and Eve, He also gave a promise: One would come to redeem mankind and destroy the tempter. As time passed the prophets told more of this redeemer. The Messiah would come from the seed of David. He would be a rightful king but would suffer at the hands of evil men. Jesus Christ, the only person who has ever lived without sinning even once, died as the penalty for our sin. But we still sin. And we still die. And God still will not excuse sin. And we sin. It’s our nature. We were born sinners and nothing we could ever do can take the judgment of sin away from us. Except one thing: We can die.
WHAT!? Die. The only way to escape death is to die. (read Romans 6:1-14) As long as this body is alive it leads us to sin and sin leads to death. The eternal death. But if the body is dead it cannot sin. Remember the line in the old westerns? “Dead men tell no tales”? Dead people do not sin. So the secret is we have to die. How does this give us eternal life? The answer is simple: Don’t stay dead.
Remember when Adam sinned and God kicked him out of the garden and he started to die? I said that God gave a promise of a redeemer. If you read the story of Ruth in the Bible you will see a beautiful picture of the laws of debt and redemption. One who owes a debt but is unable to pay can be redeemed by the next of kin. For God to redeem mankind he had to be next of kin. But although we were created in His image, once sin entered we were changed. And there really is no comparison between God and humanity. It’s like comparing something that is finite to something that is infinite. So God sent His son. God became human to be close kin but remained Holy and sinless so that he could pay our debt. Had the man Jesus sinned then his death would only pay for his own sin. But because he was sinless, fathered by God himself, he became the mediator who could pay the price for the sins of all mankind.
So Jesus Christ came into Jerusalem on that day we call “Palm Sunday”, and the Jews chose him as their Passover lamb. And just as the Law of Moses commands, he was killed four days later. So the debt has been paid. But we are still dying. In fact we are still dead- or would be if that was all that happened. What happened was Jesus didn’t stay dead. Three days later, just as he had promised, he arose from the grave. No one else had ever risen from the dead by their own power. Yes Jesus had raised Lazarus and some others. And some of the prophets in the Old Testament had raised people from the dead. But all those people who came back to life did so because they were commanded to by a duly designated representative of God Himself. But Jesus said “No man taketh [my life] from me. But I lay it down of myself and…take it back up again”. (John 10:18) He came back to life by his own power and will. That is what we must do to avoid death: Die but don’t stay dead. Now we cannot come back to life by our own power. But if we have the will we can come alive by His power. After Jesus rose from the dead he told his disciples to go to Jerusalem and wait for that power. He said “You shall receive power after the Holy Ghost has come upon you” (Acts 1:8) At the beginning of Acts chapter two we see where they received that power and what happened. It caused such a stir that it brought nearly everyone in Jerusalem around to see what was happening. Some thought they were drunk. But Peter said “NO they are not drunk. It’s only 9am. This is that which was spoken of by the prophet Joel (chapter 2 of Joel). In the last days saith God I will pour out of my Spirit (life) upon all flesh”. Then Peter preached to the people and showed them that they were all worthy of and destined for death. The people did as we all must do at some time. They asked how to escape this death. What he told them in essence was that to escape death they had to die, be buried, and then don’t stay dead.
We first must die. That is, our carnal, sinful nature and lifestyle must die. We do this by confessing to God that we are dead already as sinners. Whenever a person is convicted of a capital crime and sentenced to die, while that person is in prison awaiting that moment, he is commonly referred to as a “dead man walking”. When we realize that we are sinners and doomed to die we confess to be “dead men walking”. We ask God to forgive us of our sins and take away the penalty of death. We then commit to living without sin as much as we are able. Of course we are NOT able, so we must consider our body as dead so that when temptation comes along we can resist it because we have set in our minds that we are “dead”.
Second, we must “bury” our sinful nature. As Paul stated in Romans 6:4 we are buried with [Jesus] in baptism. Baptism is where we are fully immersed in water (you don’t bury a dead body by sprinkling a little dirt on it), having the name of Jesus Christ spoken over us as we are being baptized. This event not only “buries” the sinful nature, it also pays the bill for our sins. It’s called “remission”. It’s not remission as in when cancer is lying dormant for a time, but like when you pay off a debt you make full “remission”.
So now we are dead and buried. The next step is crucial: Don’t stay dead. The new life comes from God. It is His Spirit that comes inside of us. We call this the Holy Ghost or the Holy Spirit. When it comes into us it is no longer our life, but it is God’s life. It is the very life that left the body of Jesus for three days and then came back into it. We can know of a certainty that His Spirit has come into us because when it does come it takes over our entire being. We may dance, run, leap for joy, but what clearly identifies the infilling of His Spirit is when He takes over our tongue and speaks through us in a language we never learned.
Peter summed it all up with this command: “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost”. (Acts 2:38)
Are you tired of being dead? Would you like to have eternal life? If you come and lay this life you have, which is really death, at Jesus’ feet, die to sin and be buried in Jesus’ name you have a promise of new life. It’s just as clearly identifiable as life in a new-born baby who cries for its mother.
If you would like more information on this new life and how to attain it, or if you are interested in a personal Bible study at no cost or obligation please feel free to contact us through the e-mail link and we will respond as promptly as we are able.