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What does it mean to be spiritually dead?

Being spiritually dead is synonymous with being estranged from God. When Adam disobeyed God in Genesis 3:6, he opened the door for death to come into the world. Adam and Eve were given the command by God not to partake of the fruit from the tree that held the knowledge of both good and evil. It came with the warning that disobeying would result in death: "And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, 'You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.'" (Genesis 2:17) You are going to end up dying if you take the literal translation of the phrase "you shall surely die." This indicates that death is an ongoing state that began with spiritual death, continues throughout life as a gradual degradation of the body, and culminates in physical death. Spiritual death comes first, followed by physical death. Adam's separation from God was the direct consequence of his instantaneous spiritual death. This separation is demonstrated by the fact that he hid himself from God (Genesis 3:8) and by the fact that he tried to place blame for the sin on the woman (Genesis 3:12).

Sadly, Adam and Eve were not the only ones to experience this spiritual death, which was eventually followed by physical death. Adam, as the first man and the representative of all humans, was the one who brought sin into the world. Paul makes this point abundantly clear in Romans 5:12, where he explains that it was Adam's sin that brought sin into the world and caused death to spread to all men. In addition, the book of Romans chapter 6 verse 23 states that the penalty for sin is death. Since sin causes us to be estranged from God, sinners are doomed to die. Any degree of disconnection from the Source of Life results in our inevitable demise.

Sinfulness on our part, in addition to the sin we inherited from our parents, is a contributing factor in the spiritual death that results from sin. Before receiving salvation, the book of Ephesians 2 teaches that we are "dead" in our trespasses and sins (verse 1). This must refer to our spiritual death, as our physical bodies remained "alive" up until the point that we were saved. God delivered us from that "dead" spiritual state in which we were while we were still in it (verse 5; see also Romans 5:8). This principle is reaffirmed in Colossians 2:13, which states, "And you, who were dead in your trespasses... God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all of our trespasses."

Due to the fact that we are already corrupted by sin, we are unable to put any faith in either God or His Word. Jesus asserts on multiple occasions that we are helpless apart from Him (John 15:5) and that we are unable to approach Him apart from the enabling of God (John 6:44). Paul teaches in Romans 8 that our natural minds are incapable of submitting to God or pleasing Him in any way (verses 7-8). Due to the fact that we are in a fallen state, we are incapable of even comprehending the things that God has to offer (1 Corinthians 2:14).

The process by which God brings us back from the state of spiritual death and gives us new life is referred to as regeneration. Only the Holy Spirit, working in conjunction with the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, is capable of regenerating a person. When we are born again, we are regenerated by the Holy Spirit, which means that we are made alive along with Christ (Ephesians 2:5). As Jesus explained to Nicodemus in John 3:1, 7, it is the same as having a second chance at birth. Because God has given us life, it is impossible for us to actually perish because we have access to eternal life. Jesus emphasised many times that the only way to have eternal life is to believe in him (John 3:16, 36; 17:3).

Sin is the cause of death. The only way to avoid dying in that manner is to have faith in Jesus and allow oneself to be drawn to him by the Holy Spirit. Believe in Christ, and you will first find spiritual life, and then you will find eternal life.


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