Death is a constant reminder for ourselves that our bodily vessels are sinful and must one day pass away so that we can attain eternal life.
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
— Ephesians 2:1-7, NIV.
Have you ever wondered why must we all die just because Adam and Eve ate that fruit? Why is God so harsh and… Somewhat unreasonable? Didn’t God say that children will not share the guilt of their parents (Ezekiel 18:20, NIV)? Why then was sin and the curse of death handed down through the generations?
In an earlier post titled, “Why the fall was essential for God’s ultimate plan”, I discussed why sin was an elementary part of God’s salvation filter. I mentioned that true conviction of faith is only possible when the option to choose is presented before us. No sin = no freedom to choose. No freedom to choose = no true love. Salvation would have been pointless without the option to choose. Eternity would have been purposeless without love. Without sin, we’d all be robots and puppets in God’s massive circus.
But why is death required? Why must we die the moment we eat that fruit (ref: Genesis 2:17, NIV). Truth is, sin isn’t in the fruit. Sin begins in the heart. Think about it. When you’re angry, it’s as good as murder (Matthew 5:22). And when you look at someone lustfully, you’ve committed adultery (Matthew 5:28). Likewise, when the woman saw the fruit was good and pleasing to the eye, she took and ate (Genesis 3:6).
I think God is gracious to have set certain boundaries for us. That is called the law. It lays down the groundworks telling us what we should do and what we ought not to do (ref Romans 7:7). But just because we’ve got boundaries set up for us, sin creeps in (ref: Romans 7:8) through our the evil desires within us (ref James 1:14-15) to break that boundary.
That’s what the deception of freedom does to us. Without a proper understanding of God, we do things as we saw fit (ref: Judges 17:6, 21:25). Without a proper understanding of God, we will tend to try new things, seek new boundaries, venture to places where we shouldn’t go, and walk the tightrope for that bit of adrenaline.
Imagine this lifestyle extending to eternity. Can you imagine committing a mistake that’d last forever? Or suffering the consequences of a mistake forever? Or live life thinking we can be our own god (ref: Genesis 3:5), forever? God surely can. And out of love, He doesn’t want us to suffer, forever (ref: Genesis 3:22-24, NIV). He wanted a way out for us. He gave us Christ. We needed to die. Sin needed to die.
For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin — because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.
— Romans 6:6-7, NIV.
We all know the teaching: gouge out the eye that causes you to stumble and cut off the hand that causes you to stumble (ref: Matthew 5:29-30). But do we know why must we do that? That’s because we need to consistently kill the part that causes us to sin. Life in Christ is, therefore, the constant effort to not let sin reign in our mortal bodies (ref: Romans 6:12). Sin and all the things that cause us to sin are the part we throw away.
Will sin truly die within us in our lifetime? No. Else physical death wouldn’t be required. But by the love of God and His providence, we will be empowered by grace to help us through every step of the way (ref: 2 Corinthians 12:8-9). Wherever sin abounds, grace abounds more. Just as sin reigned in death, grace will reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ. And in grace, we understand that it is never by ourselves that we are saved. Rather, it is through our faith in God that we are saved (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Therefore, death in itself — be it actual physical death or the constant sentence to death the part that causes us to sin — is a constant reminder for ourselves that our bodily vessels are sinful and must one day pass away. But in doing so, we put our faith in the one who can save our soul from hell and fix our eyes upon the eternal glory to come.
Death, in Christ, is the only way to life.