Spiritual Death:
The Righteous Can Die Spiritually

Dan Corner

Spiritual Death -- Lose Salvation
Crucify The Flesh

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What Is Spiritual Death

The Biblical definition of spiritual death is the absence of having spiritual life, which is only available in the Lord Jesus Christ (1 John 5:12). Before one gets born again he is spiritually dead in his sins and lost (Eph. 2:1). Similarly, if one backslides he experiences spiritual death again, as the prodigal son did (Luke 15:24)! There are many death blows to eternal security found in Scripture. The spiritual death of the righteous who turn to evil is a clear one! At the very core of the false teaching of eternal security is the concept that a person once saved (a righteous person) will not experience spiritual death (lose salvation) over his sin -- when he becomes a backslider.

Spiritual death for the righteous who turn to sin is taught from Gen. 2:17 through Rev. 22:19 and those warnings begin and end with that possibility of spiritual death happening over one sin. To Adam God warned:

PROOF That Spiritual Death Can Happen To Christians

God Warned Adam About Spiritual Death

And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die" (Gen 2:16,17)
Adam was righteous and resided in the garden of Eden, a paradise garden only for the righteous, but lived with the ever-present danger of spiritual death. He was expelled from Eden after he sinned (and died spiritually) as warned. To be more exact, Adam died spiritually the same day he sinned, yet lived physically many years afterwards to be 930 years old (Gen. 5:5).

As God's first statement about sin was issued to a righteous man concerning his own spiritual death through sin, the devil's first lie was devised to make Eve dismiss that eternal truth, which led to her disobedience and spiritual death. Please note that Eve never sinned until she was deceived into thinking that sin would not bring about her own spiritual death through sin. Furthermore, the doctrine of eternal security is identical to the devil's first lie, that is, the righteous will not die spiritually through sin:

"You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. (Gen 3:4)

Spiritual Death Quotes In Ezekiel

This same consequence of spiritual death through disobedience for the righteous
is repeated later by the prophet Ezekiel:
Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and does evil, and I put a stumbling block before him, he will die. Since you did not warn him, he will die for his sin. The righteous things he did will not be remembered, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. (Ezek 3:20)
But if a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits sin and does the same detestable things the wicked man does, will he live? None of the righteous things he has done will be remembered. Because of the unfaithfulness he is guilty of and because of the sins he has committed, he will die. (Ezek 18:24)
If a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits sin, he will die for it; because of the sin he has committed he will die. (Ezek 18:26)
If I tell the righteous man that he will surely live, but then he trusts in his righteousness and does evil, none of the righteous things he has done will be remembered; he will die for the evil he has done. (Ezek 33:13)
If a righteous man turns from his righteousness and does evil, he will die for it. (Ezek 33:18)

Spiritual Death Quotes
In The New Testament Under Grace

Clearly, a righteous person will experience spiritual death because of his sin, which again is the antithesis of the teaching of eternal security. New Testament warnings to the righteous about spiritual death through sin are repeated, especially by Paul and James. The familiarity between these and the Gen. 2:17 and Ezekiel passages is evident:
For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. (Rom 8:13)
Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey - whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? (Rom 6:16)
Those Scriptures are written to the saints at Rome about spiritual death:
To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. (Rom. 1:7,8)
By the way, if the reader would compare Rom. 8:13 to Gal. 5:19-21 and 6:8,9, where Paul wrote the same truth three different ways, it becomes unmistakable that he was referring to the spiritual death of the righteous (not physical death) for those who live according to the sinful nature. That truth about spiritual death will be evident if you compare you will die in Rom. 8:13 to not inherit the kingdom of God in Gal. 5:19-21 and reap destruction instead of reap eternal life in Gal. 6:8,9. Clearly, Paul repeatedly warned Christians about spiritual death (Gal. 5:21), unlike the blind guides in our dark day which deny these same eternal truths. James describes the sinning process, which leads to the spiritual death of the righteous:
but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Don't be deceived, my dear brothers. (James 1:14-16)
As already shown this sinning process to spiritual death dates back to the Garden of Eden, then to Ezekiel, then to Paul the grace teacher. James elaborated upon spiritual death again at the very end of his own epistle:
My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth, and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death, and will cover over a multitude of sins. (James 5:19,20, NASB)
Notice how straying from the truth (a name for Jesus in John 14:6) is to jeopardize the soul of the righteous person to death. But if that same person is brought back where he was before he strayed, his soul will once again be safe (or saved) in the truth. Besides showing the righteous can experience spiritual death, another truth is that a saved person can become a sinner again, by straying from the truth.

Printout Proving Some Who Once Had Salvation Died Spiritually Lost

How the Righteous
Can Prevent Their Own Spiritual Death

The Lord Himself taught how the righteous can prevent their own spiritual death:
I tell you the truth, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death. (John 8:51)
Clearly, the Lord was not talking about physical death, since many righteous people remained faithful to the very end, such as the Apostle Paul did, yet died physically. Again, since Paul died physically, Jesus couldn't have been referring to physical death. Hence, the Lord gave the preventative to spiritual death as being simply to keep his word or continue to obey to the end. Jesus restated the same eternal safeguard for spiritual death in different words when he spoke the following:
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25,26)
The word translated "believes" in v. 26 is a continuous tense in the Greek. That is vital to know about the real saving faith believe meaning! To believe in Jesus is not just head knowledge of historical facts! Jesus declared that the righteous would never die spiritually, that is, experience spiritual death as long as they maintained that type of belief, which is shown elsewhere as being a trusting, submitting, obeying faith which produces good fruit and holy behavior. In other words, the Lord was saying in John 11 that a righteous person would have to continue to believe so he would not die spiritually, which does not always happen. The Lord taught elsewhere that it is possible for a believer to become an unbeliever, at which point he would fall away and experience spiritual death as a result:
Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. (Luke 8:13)
That was the Lord's own interpretation of the following verse:
Some fell on rock, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. (Luke 8:6)
To try to save their doctrine, the eternal security teachers (the Scripture distorters) sometimes amazingly argue that the people of Luke 8:13 only had a spurious or false faith, but that is not the text speaking - just their own faulty theology. Not only does Lk. 8:13 say such people did believe for a while, it also states that they receive the word with joy. Real, genuine plant life, likened unto spiritual life, sprung up from the word of God, which was received with joy. The problem is such don't continue with God because they failed the test of persecution for godly living.

They Received the Word

To receive the word as in Luke 8:13 is the same description of what happened to Cornelius and his household who experienced true salvation. Just before Peter retold what happened with them we read:
The apostles and the brothers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. (Acts 11:1)
Similar to that are two additional Scriptures which refer to others who likewise received the word of God. According to the context, such describes that they got saved when receiving the word of God:
But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done. Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: (Acts 8:12-14, KJV)
These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few. (Acts 17:11,12, KJV)
Please note that the same Greek word translated received in Luke 8:13 is also found in Acts 8:14; 11:1 and 17:11. Luke 8:13 is referring to people who had experienced true salvation, just like these other Scriptures do because such people received the word. Yet the Luke 8:13 passage states they ceased believing (and experienced spiritual death). Getting back to John 8:51 and 11:25,26, the Lord shared the same facts as stated there in yet a different Scripture, also from John:
I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. (John 6:47-51)
Please note the word believes in v. 47 is also a continuous tense in the Greek. Believing in Jesus is compared to eating the bread of life, which will prevent spiritual death, and enable one to live forever. We eat this bread by continuing or maintaining our submissive faith in Jesus, the same truth as shown in John 11:25, 26. When one continues to believe he will keep God's word, the preventative for spiritual death, as stated in John 8:51. At another time, the Lord spoke to those on the very edge of spiritual death in Rev. 3:2:
Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God.
Please note it was the personal responsibility of the ones about to die to strengthen themselves spiritually. God was not going to do it for them, even though it was His will for them to be strengthened. The spiritual negligence and sloth of the righteous can be fatal unto spiritual death.

Be Faithful, Even to the Point of Death

The Rev. 3:2 passage is similar to the warning given by the Lord in the preceding chapter to faithful Christians:
Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death. (Rev 2:10,11)
Certainly, spiritual death is implied since the faithful Christians at Smyrna were warned by Jesus to continue being faithful to the point of physical death (to overcome), so that they would not be hurt at all by the second death. The second death is another name for the lake of fire (Rev. 20:14; 21:8).

So what happens to a person with spiritual life (a Christian) who is not faithful to the end of his life? Clearly, he will experience spiritual death. This possibility of the righteous succumbing to spiritual death is reiterated yet another time by the Lord himself, yet ends joyfully because he repents and returns to salvation:

For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found. So they began to celebrate. (Luke 15:24)
But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found. (Luke 15:32)
Please note that the prodigal son was spiritually dead and spiritually lost at the same point in time, that is when he was in sexual immorality and wild living. After he repented he became alive again. Those words are very important. It says again. That means he had spiritual life before he left the Father to indulge in wild living and sexual immorality. He got that same spiritual life back again when he repented and returned to serve the Father. In other words, he was righteous yet died spiritually through sin (became lost) and later became spiritually alive again when he turned from his wickedness to serve God. (This is Jesus' teaching not some cultist or so-called works salvation person.) Hence, as Jesus taught elsewhere that one passes from spiritual death to spiritual life at the point of getting born again, He also taught the same person can pass back from spiritual life to spiritual death through sin, as happened to the prodigal. This same truth about spiritual death for the righteous is echoed by the Apostle John in his first epistle:
If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that he should pray about that. (1 John 5:16)
John wrote about the spiritual death of the righteous there. He stated that sin would bring that about as happened to Adam, as well as the prodigal. Another definite example of a righteous man dying, but not physically, was King David when he turned to do evil. Ezekiel warned such a righteous person will die, yet David continued to live physically as did Adam and the prodigal. These facts, of course, are all opposed by the eternal security teachers who want us to believe the devil's teaching, as stated in Gen. 3:4 - that the righteous can't experience spiritual death. They agree with the devil and try to confuse the issue by saying the death of 1 John 5:16 is physical death, with Ananias and Sapphira being examples. In other words, they believe God in his wrath over their sin of lying to the Holy Spirit struck them dead in their unrepentant wickedness and rewarded them by taking them quicker into His paradise kingdom, which is reserved only for the holy and pure of heart. By teaching like that the eternal security teachers not only proclaim a license for immorality, they also contradict yet another Scripture, which shows that all liars will go to the lake of fire:
But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars - their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death. (Rev 21:8)
For some reason the eternal security teachers seem oblivious to Scriptures which show that God does sometimes strike the wicked (or unsaved) physically dead for their sin:
But Er, Judah's firstborn, was wicked in the Lord's sight; so the LORD put him to death. (Gen 38:7)

Spiritual Death In The Bible Is Shown Again

Spiritual death in the Bible is also shown with the widows of 1 Tim. 5:6, which Paul wrote of:
But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives.
Immediately afterwards, he refers to some widows that turned from their dedication to Christ (v. 11) to follow Satan (v. 15). Notice: those widows Paul knew didn't die physically, yet were dead (spiritually) because of their sins. This passage doesn't refer to those who were never a Christian, but instead to those who were once alive spiritually like the prodigal, because they previously had a dedication to Christ and later turned away and experienced spiritual death. Green renders 1 Tim. 5:6, as follows:
But she who lives in self-pleasure has died while living.
Dear reader, don't be deceived by those parroting the devil's first lie about spiritual death given through the eternal security teachers. The Bible is clear that the righteous will experience spiritual death, if they turn to do evil, as Adam, King David, the prodigal and the widows of 1 Tim. 5:6 did, which is also the clear teaching of Ezekiel. If you are a real Christian, you must faithfully follow Jesus and endure persecution for living godly to the end of your life to enter God's kingdom. Don't be deceived by the false teachers who deny the righteous can experience spiritual death. [The meaning of spiritual death is NOT the same as eternal damnation in the lake of fire, but will lead one there if he doesn't repent. Also, only a spiritually alive person can die spiritually. Therefore, such is impossible for the non Christian. If a Christian backslides he experiences spiritual death.] Much more information regarding the subject of eternal security (and spiritual death) is found in our 801 page book, The Believer's Conditional Security, which is the most exhaustive and comprehensive refutation to this false doctrine ever written with the related spiritual death.

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