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Bible verses about Death as Wages of Sin
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Genesis 2:17

When we read in Genesis 2:17, do we not subconsciously read into it, "Yes, but He does not really mean that. He means we will eventually die"? We soften it, expecting that God will not carry through with what He literally says.

The Keil-Delitzsch Commentary says about this verse, "That in the day that you eat thereof you shall die." It means as soon as he ate, he would die. The Keil-Delitzsch is a very conservative commentary. The Interpreter's Bible Commentary, which is one of the most liberal commentaries, says, "Death would follow immediately!" From one of the most conservative commentaries, Keil-Delitzsch, to one of the most liberal, The Interpreter's Bible Commentary, they agree the verse says that when they touched that tree, thus showing the intent of their heart, they would die.

In the beginning, at creation, all sin is deemed as worthy of death. Every sin is a capital offense. In creation, God was not obligated in any way to give life to you or me. Life is a gift that puts us under obligation, and that obligation is stated, or at least implied very strongly, right when man is being created. God gave life to man and put him under the obligation of being the image-bearer of God (Genesis 1:26). That is why we were created.

In chapter 2, we are further obligated by God's command to take of the Tree of Life, and not the other tree. The implication there is that only God knows how we are to live in order to fill our obligation to be the image-bearer of God. We have to learn that the root of sin lies in the desire of men to live their lives in self-centered independence from God. This is what keeps us from being the image-bearers of God that He intended us to be. If we deviate from this, have we not broken our obligation to God? If we deviate from this—if we go from the path, if we miss the mark—we have sinned. We have broken our obligation to mirror and reflect the holiness of God.

Implied by the name “Tree of Life,” God is telling us that we do not intrinsically possess the kind of life that God has, and that if we want that kind of life, it must be added. It is added through what the Tree of Life symbolized. What if we do not meet our obligations? We forfeit the gift of life when we sin.

Is God unfair if something is so clearly stated? Do we see why He commands us to choose life? He sets before us two different ways. He commands us to go in a certain direction, because if we go in the other direction we have broken our obligation to be image-bearers, and then He is not obligated any longer after that to continue our lives. He is under no obligation to continue the life that He gave to us as a gift. God is not acting unfairly nor with injustice, for the commands are very clear.

When the penalty was stated to Adam and Eve, did God say, "If you sin, some day you will die"? No. The penalty is clearly stated to be instant death, just as suddenly as it fell on Nadab and Abihu, and on Ananias and Sapphira, and Uzza.

Let us look at this realistically and let us not try to soften what God very clearly and literally says. He meant the death penalty in the fullest sense of the word. The only reason they lived was because it was right at that point that God extended grace. God was no longer obligated to continue their life.

They had broken His Word, deviated from the path, and the just thing for God to have done would have been to kill them just as He did Uzza. That is not what He did though. Instead, He gave them mercy, and He gave them grace. There is a saying, "Justice delayed is justice denied," but not always so. In this case with Adam and Eve, the full measure of justice was delayed for grace to have time to work.

We need to be thinking of this in relation to ourselves, because He is establishing a pattern. Justice was delayed so grace would have time to work. In this case, the delay of justice was not the denial of justice, but the establishing of mercy and grace. So right at the very beginning of the Book, in its third chapter, grace is introduced.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Justice and Grace


 

Genesis 3:1-4

In the Garden of Eden, the serpent told Eve that she could disobey God, and she would not die. Even as that initial deception of mankind concerned death, modern conceptions about death and the afterlife commonly contradict the Bible.

Most professing Christians believe in an immortal soul that lives on beyond death. They believe that if one professed Christ then his soul goes to heaven, but if the dearly-departed did not “get saved” before dying, then his soul goes to an ever-burning hell to be tortured for eternity. This belief, rooted in Gnosticism and even further back in Egyptian and Babylonian mystery religions, proclaims that death really is not death but just part of a mystical journey.

What the Bible teaches is different. The Bible shows that man does not have a soul, but that man is a soul. Man has a spirit, and has a body, but only when God breathed life into Adam did he become a living soul (nephesh; Genesis 2:7, KJV).

Moreover, the Bible states clearly that the soul who sins will die (Ezekiel 18:4, 20). It says that God alone has immortality (I Timothy 6:16), unlike man who must seek it because he does not have it (Romans 2:7). Scripture asserts that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Death is not a shedding of the body and a freeing of the soul, as is commonly held, but a complete cessation of existence.

David C. Grabbe
What Is the Second Death?


 

Genesis 18:23-25

Is God fair in His dealings with man? Consider this: Has God warned man what he is going to earn in the way of a death penalty if he sinned? Consider this list. In Exodus 21, we are warned that striking or cursing parents will result in death. In Leviticus 19, He says that if you desecrate a sacrifice, you are going to die. In Leviticus 24, He said that if you murder somebody, you are going to die. In Exodus 21, He says that if you kidnap somebody, you are going to die. In Leviticus 20, He says if you sacrifice a child in the fire, you are going to die. In Leviticus 24, He says, "If you take My name in vain—if you curse Me, if your use blasphemous statements about Me—you are going to die."

In Exodus 35, He issues the death penalty for breaking the Sabbath. In Leviticus 20, He issues the death penalty for consulting mediums. In Leviticus 20, He says that if you are practicing homosexuality, you are going to die. In Leviticus 20, if you practice incest, you are going to die. In Exodus 22, if you practice bestiality, you are going to die. In Deuteronomy 22, He says that if you rape somebody, you are going to die. In Deuteronomy 13, if you give a false prophecy, you are going to die.

In Exodus 22, if you practice sorcery, you are going to die. In Exodus 22, if you sacrifice to a false god, you are going to die. In Leviticus, if you commit adultery, you are going to die. In Numbers 4, if you desecrate a holy thing, you are going to die. In Numbers 16, if you disagree with God's judgment, you are going to die. In Leviticus 21, if you are a priest's daughter and you play the harlot, you are going to die.

This is only a partial list. God has clearly made known the penalty to mankind. Is God acting fairly? The penalty for some of these offenses really sounds harsh to modern minds. Death for a false prophecy? Death for committing adultery? Death for bestiality or homosexuality? All of these penalties are given in the Old Testament. By contrast, there is no corresponding list of penalties in the New Testament, which misleads some who are close to being biblically illiterate into thinking that they prefer the God of the New Testament to the God of the Old Testament. But the God of the New Testament is exactly the same Being as the God of the Old Testament; He says, "I change not" (Malachi 3:6). "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Hebrews 13:8).

Those of us who are living under the New Covenant need to begin to think seriously about the way we conduct our lives, and especially in reference to our own relationship with God. We cannot deny that the New Testament list of capital offenses would appear to be a dramatic reduction from the Old. What we fail to consider is that the Old Testament list above is a massive reduction from what appears at the beginning of the Book, as in Genesis 18. The list, mainly out of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, represents an astonishing measure of grace from how things began.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Justice and Grace


 

Leviticus 4:20

The English word atonement appears in Leviticus 4:20, 26, 31, 35 in reference to these sin offerings, as it does in Leviticus 1:4 in reference to the burnt offering: "Then he shall put his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him." This is the last time "atonement" appears in reference to the sweet-savor offerings in Leviticus 1-3.

"Atonement" may mislead some because we almost automatically think of a covering for sin. Atonement for sin normally makes one acceptable before God, but sin is not present in the sweet-savor offerings. Nonetheless, the word indeed conveys the sense of acceptance but on a different basis than in the sin and trespass offerings. The basis for acceptance in the sweet-savor offerings is the offerer's perfect devotion, picturing the devoted, sinless Christ worshipping God.

Concerning the sin and trespass offerings, "atonement" is used in the way we normally understand it: as a covering, payment, expiation, or propitiation made for sin. It is as though the offerer is charged just as the police charge a person with a crime. In this case, though, the offerer is charged with sin, and something must expiate it. The sin and trespass offerings, then, indicate the payment of a legal obligation to an authority, one that meets the legal requirement of that authority. To expiate sin, the payment must be in blood; a life must be given. The Authority is God, as His law has been broken.

The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Whenever a person sins, the law has the power to take that person's life. It has such power over us that, for our debt to be paid, a life is required. Nothing less is suitable to expiate sin. In the symbolism of the sin and trespass offerings, the life of an animal is given, covering the indebtedness and breaking the power the law has over us.

In actual practice, the ritual proceeded like this: The offerer brought his animal before the priest and then laid his hand upon the head of his offering. Symbolically, a transfer took place so that the animal is understood as portraying the sinner making the offering. The animal then died, and the penalty was considered paid.

In Romans 6:2, Paul writes that we are "dead to sin," and in Romans 7:4, that we are "dead to the law." The ritual portrays these truths. The sin and trespass offerings picture a convicted sinner coming before God to receive the judgment of death. However, the animal's death portrays Christ's vicarious death in our stead, for in reality, since He is the offering, our sins have been transferred to Him. In this way, we are atoned for and redeemed.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Offerings of Leviticus (Part Six): The Sin Offering


 

2 Samuel 12:9-14

Regardless of how successful a person might consider himself in getting away with his adventure into sin, he could learn a few things from David. First, however, we must note Numbers 32:23: "But if you do not do so, then take note, you have sinned against the LORD; and be sure your sin will find you out." Interestingly, the context of this verse is a warning to those who may not be faithful to their words of promise.

Overall, this story is a quick study into cause and effect. First, it teaches that, regardless of one's status, adultery cannot be committed without damaging relationships anymore than murder can be committed without damaging relationships. It does not matter whether the perpetrator is a prince or pauper. The only variable is the speed with which the effect takes place. We should never forget the warning given in Genesis 2:17: "In the day you eat of [the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil] you shall surely die." The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23) no matter which commandment is broken.

Second, besides death, sin produces two effects that may also manifest slowly:

1. A damaged relationship with God. Isaiah 59:1-2 shows that sin creates division between God and us because of the breach of trust. Sin is a breaking of the terms of the covenant agreed on by both God and us. After committing a sin like adultery, can the individual be trusted any longer? This effect is not easily seen, but God's Word nonetheless reveals it does occur. As this episode shows, with repentance and God's merciful forgiveness, the division can be healed.

2. Evil results in our lives in this world. Even with God's forgiveness, this second effect remains and must be borne by the sinner—and tragically, by those sinned against. For example, the evil effects of David's sin brought death—either directly or indirectly—to five people. It directly caused the deaths of Uriah and the newborn son of David and Bathsheba. In addition, it greatly intensified the ultimately deadly competition between Absalom, Amnon, and Adonijah, all of whom died violently. With the dishonorable example of their father before their eyes, it could only teach disrespect, even for those closest to them.

Thus, the throne fell to Solomon. He never had to live through the kind of family life that David's older children did. When he committed similar sins, he could never say that he saw his father do the same things.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Seventh Commandment


 

Proverbs 14:12

Solomon is telling us that even the deeds we think are right are sinful, for if they were not sinful, they would not end in death. Death is the result of sin (Romans 6:23). So even the “good” things that we do without God are ultimately sinful because they arise from a corrupted nature.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Are Humans Good or Evil?


 

Isaiah 3:9

The detrimental effect of sin also affects others, beginning with our family, friends, community, country, and the whole world. It is cumulative, with each new sin adding to the detrimental impact so that the enormity of suffering in the world today is beyond measure. We actually curtail our freedom, weighing ourselves down with bad habits. It changes our character, which impacts those who care for us. Each sin is a failure to become what we might have been, corroding our ability to reach our full potential. Self-absorption becomes almost literal; we devour ourselves till there is no proper love for God, oneself, or anyone else.

The apostle James expresses the result of sin succinctly, “Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (James 1:15).

Martin G. Collins
Admission of Sin


 

Matthew 18:21-27

This servant owed the king 10,000 talents—an immense and practically uncollectible amount, likely in the millions of dollars or beyond in today's value—which we might liken to the enormous and unpayable debt that we, as servants before our eternal King, have accrued.

Whenever we sin, even after we are converted, we come under the death penalty until we repent. Upon our repentance, we receive forgiveness through the blood of Jesus Christ, and the death penalty is removed. The atoning blood of Christ is a very precious commodity—capable of paying for all the sins of humanity.

Such forgiveness is the reason we need to find and maintain the proper perspective regarding the enormous price continuously being paid—the colossal debt being forgiven—on our behalf.

Austin Del Castillo
The Prisoner


 

Luke 4:33-34

The Greek term underlying “destroy” is appolumi (Strong's #622). Vine's defines it as, “signifies 'to destroy utterly'; in the middle voice, 'to perish.' The idea is not extinction but ruin, loss, not of being, but of well-being.”

Behind “torment” is the Greek world basanizo (Strong's #928). It appears in relation to demons in Matthew 8:6, Mark 5:7, and Luke 8:28, all three recording the same event. In each case, the context indicates torture without the implication of death. Neither of these Greek terms, then, as used in Scripture, can be used dogmatically to prove death for angelic beings.

However, our search is far from over. If a man sins and does not repent, he dies ultimately in the Lake of Fire. Yet, if an angel sins, it appears—at this point—that his only penalty is the torment of being restrained with the knowledge of what he has lost. He lives on like a prisoner in jail with no hope of parole.

Scripturally, though, this does not balance the scales of justice because the Bible clearly states that the wages of sin not repented of is death (Romans 6:23). God says unambiguously, “The soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4, 20). An angel is a soul too, that is, a living being with the liberty to make choices about moral conduct. Biblically, “soul” is not restricted to humans but simply indicates a breathing creature, which includes animals. Animals, however, do not make moral choices.

God's Word reveals much more about the completion of the purpose He is working out, His attitude toward sin, sins' effects, and what He has prophesied regarding the purity of His Kingdom that will be established when He completes the purpose He is now working out.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Do Angels Live Forever?


 

Luke 16:19-31

In the Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man, the latter, a heartless person, speaks to Lazarus while being "tormented in this flame." This alludes to the wicked being cremated when God burns up the earth, turning it into the final Gehenna, called elsewhere "the Lake of Fire." The rich man is raised out of his grave at the end of God's plan for humanity on earth. Because the dead know nothing, he does not realize the passage of time, but he certainly realizes that he has failed to receive salvation. He sees "a great gulf fixed" between him and those who are with Abraham in the Kingdom of God. At this point, it is impossible for anyone to change his fate.

Martin G. Collins
Basic Doctrines: The Third Resurrection


 

Luke 16:19-31

In the Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man (Luke 16:19-31), Jesus illustrates death—total unconsciousness—as being followed by a resurrection from the dead and a restoration to consciousness. Secondly, Jesus describes the second death, eternal death, in the Lake of Fire that will totally destroy the wicked. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), not endless torment.

Jesus shows that the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear the voice of God and come forth—those who have lived righteously to the resurrection of life, and those who have lived wickedly (including the rich man) to the resurrection of condemnation (John 5:28-29). We need to understand how vital it is to hear and submit to God's voice now.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man (Part Two)


 

Luke 20:36

Does this verse mean that sinning angels will live forever? The only answer that squares with the rest of Scripture is that Jesus is referring only to righteous angels. They indeed do not die. Demons, though, will pay for their sins with death like every other unrepentant being.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Do Angels Live Forever?


 

John 8:34

The basic concept of sin is failure—failure to live up to a standard, failure to hit the bull's eye, failure to stay on the path. The slavery Jesus speaks of is bondage to a pattern of thinking that produces failure. This is what God wants to deliver and convert us from. All who come out of the world have been addicted, held in bondage, to ways of thinking that produce failure, mental illness, physical disease, and death. God desires to give us freedom through applying truth in faith and love for the Father, His Son, and the brethren.

He has revealed Himself, His way, and His truth. Do we believe it? Will we discipline ourselves to use the truth? This is the responsibility that faces us. It has been done, and we can do it. Will you?

John W. Ritenbaugh
Eating: How Good It Is! (Part Five)


 

Romans 6:23

One of the most basic truths in God's program involves the fact that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). The death we are intended to understand is the second death. There are only two ways to satisfy this basic truth: First, all humans must be paid that wage because all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Second, another, an innocent One on whom death has no claim because He never sinned, must pay that wage in our stead, substituting His death for ours.

We find both aspects applied to practical Christian life in Romans. Paul writes in Romans 5:8, "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." It is essential that we thoroughly understand that Christ died, not merely as a benefit, but for us, that is, in our place. His death substitutes for our well-deserved death, which we earned through sin. Earlier, the apostle had written in Romans 4:1-5:

What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness.

When confronted by such scriptures that cannot be broken, our only possible conclusion is that the sin-debt that each person owes to God absolutely cannot be worked off. It is so huge and serious that an already sin-defiled person cannot pay it off. Once a person sins, his debt is absolutely irredeemable by anyone or any action except through death. Either each individual pays for himself, or Christ pays in his place. These are the only acceptable payments.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Christian Fight (Part Four)


 

Romans 7:9

What Paul means by "I was alive once without the law" is that, at one time, he without the knowledge of what the law meant. It was "when the commandment came" that he understood. At this point, Paul knew that he was as good as dead because he had broken the law (Romans 6:23).

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 27)


 

Romans 7:9-14

Notice that it was not the law that killed him but sin! Plain, simple truth—sin slew him. By contrast, Paul says that the law was ordained to life. It is holy, just, good, and spiritual. That is very clear.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 29)


 

Romans 11:19-22

Paul directs this passage toward Gentiles as part of an admonition he wanted them to consider regarding their calling into the church. We, too, must seriously consider God's goodness and severity. God is not only what we commonly think of as love. His character is perfectly balanced by a sense of justice for all concerned and for His purpose too. To be just is to be fair, evenhanded, and impartial. God will always be fair because even His justice is executed in love and is an act of love.

God is not only supreme in power and authority, but He is also supreme in judgment. His mind pierces through all of the justifications we make to excuse our bad attitudes and conduct as measured against His righteous standard. So, if we desire to live by faith, we must seriously consider His sense of justice because what we may think is a small matter, an event of no great magnitude, may trigger God to react with terrible swiftness and severe consequences that leave us wondering why. Scripture records a number of these sudden, violent reactions.

We must begin by understanding that we do not see the entire picture as God does. The reality of God's justice helps us to perceive three important factors to living by faith: 1) The wages of sin is indeed death (Romans 6:23); 2) we are headed toward death and do not know its time; and 3) God means exactly what He says.

Jesus declares an important principle in Luke 12:48: "But he who did not know, yet committed things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more." We need to think about the seriousness of our calling, knowing that human nature contains a strong strain of self-deception. This verse should remind us that because we have been given so much, our judgment will be sterner.

God states in Romans 1:18-20 that mankind is without excuse regarding His existence, but it is easily seen in the immoral conduct committed throughout the world that people are paying little or no attention to their responsibilities to God. As people go about their daily activities, they ignore Him; a relationship with Him is not perceived as a vital, everyday necessity to life.

Some may talk of Him on occasion and even pray, but they are not seriously committed to true devotion to Him. They are neither learning more of His truth nor further broadening and deepening obedience to Him. Besides those folks, some are openly and aggressively antagonistic toward Him and His laws.

However, in the face of these attitudes, we cannot allow ourselves to disregard the fact that God is very serious about His intentions to fulfill His purposes for His creation and most especially in the lives of His children. His purpose has been revealed to us, and we are more responsible than others.

Though by our reckoning of time God's justice often seems long delayed, the prophecies will be fulfilled and His Kingdom established under Jesus Christ. God commands that we must live by faith, so we cannot let down. We must push on in faith.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Living by Faith and God's Justice


 

Romans 11:22

Paul admonishes us to consider both God's goodness and severity. Both of these characteristics are part of what He is, and therefore we must respect both.

We can make the contrast between them very sharp: Until Adam and Eve sinned, they received all goodness from God. After their sin, it appears that His severity hit them immediately; they were ushered out of the Garden.

In Genesis 4, Cain sinned by killing Abel. At first, Cain received goodness from God in that he was permitted to live, but he also received severity in that he had to live as a marked vagabond.

In these two early examples, both sides of God's judgment appear, and a pattern has become especially clear: Severity results because of sin.

Whether we are immediately aware of it is not the issue. For instance, when Adam and Eve sinned, their decline into death began immediately, regardless of whether they were physically aware of any deterioration of their health. Cain immediately became a vagabond separated from his family roots. The only real difference between the carrying out of the death penalty between Adam and Eve and Nadab and Abihu is the effect God desired to create by His immediate, shocking display of severity.

We who draw near to God must know that the God we serve is to be served as a holy God—especially because He is a holy God. He permitted no opportunity for them to repent because they should have known better. The wages of sin is always death.

In the days of Noah, the goodness of God spared only eight souls, but His severity terrifyingly destroyed the remainder of humanity. In a matter of a few days, perhaps billions of people, even innocent unborn and newborn babies, died because of sin.

Following King Saul's paranoia-driven reign, God showed His goodness to Israel by raising up David, a man after His own heart, to rule over Israel. Yet, then David committed a disastrous double sin by entering into adultery with Bathsheba and deliberately bringing about the death of the loyal Uriah. God mercifully forgave the sins, but that does not mean there was no painful punishment laid on David and his family. God's severity against David and his family was hard and long. First, the son born of that illicit union died shortly after his birth. Later, David's firstborn son, Amnon, raped his own half-sister, Tamar. Tamar's brother, Absalom, seeking revenge, killed Amnon and fled from David, not seeing him for two years.

Then Absalom revolted against David in his desire to take over the throne. Absalom arrogantly proceeded to defile David's concubines in the sight of all Israel. Several thousand were killed in this revolt, and eventually, Absalom himself was killed by Joab. The family's pain did not stop even then, washing over into Solomon's reign when he put Adonijah to death because he sought political power by asking for Abishag's hand in marriage.

David was a man of blood, as God Himself mentions, but his children carried a moral cancer until death stopped them. Have we ever noticed how much deceit and illicit sex was involved in David's family's sins? God was not present in that family's life as He had once been. He could have stepped in at any time and stopped the holocaust ripping through David's family, but He did not. Living as they did, despite being the progeny of a man God greatly loved, they felt the severity of His judgments.

Deeply consider how long God's severity lasted! He did not simply let David off the hook. He had been chosen to draw near to God. Much was required of him.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Living by Faith and God's Justice


 

1 Corinthians 15:26

If death is part of God's good creation, how can it also be an enemy? God does not create enemies, does He? Yes, He does! For the ultimate good of His people, God has allowed—and even raised up—many different kinds of enemies throughout history to test us. Without making light of the seriousness of human death, we might look on it as a "disposable test tool." When God has finished with it, He will throw it in the garbage!

Yes, death is an enemy. Death and its inseparable and causative partner, sin, are enemies that, although they have led to so much unhappiness and misery over the years, God will one day destroy. But they will not go down without a fight!

In some respects, the first and most crucial battle in the war between humankind and these enemies, sin and death, has been won already by our Savior: ". . . knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him" (Romans 6:9).

Because Christ won this first battle through His death and resurrection, we—His fellow-soldiers (II Timothy 2:3-4; Ephesians 6:11-18)—have been given an opportunity to fight in these subsequent battles, to participate in the destruction of sin and death. Our reward is to receive the gift of eternal life: "But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. . . . For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive" (I Corinthians 15:20, 22).

Staff
Death of a Lamb


 

Colossians 2:13-14

In Colossians 2, Paul warns the churches at Colossae and Laodicea against any philosophy or system of beliefs—specifically mentioning “the tradition of men”—that detracts from Christ's sovereign position and role under the Father (verses 4, 8-9). He points out that the brethren there were already “complete in Him” (verse 10). This does not mean that they had already achieved spiritual perfection or that their salvation was assured, but that they had no need of anything supplementary to what was already available in Christ.

Many see Satan's binding (Revelation 20:1-3) as the fulfillment of the Day of Atonement, yet if these Colossians were still awaiting Satan's binding—after having been resurrected to glory, no less!—before their sins were completely removed from view, how could the apostle write that they were already “complete” in Christ? On the contrary, those who come under Christ's blood are not awaiting the final resolution of their transgressions when Satan is bound; their previous sins have already been completely taken care of.

Paul continues:

And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. (Colossians 2:13-14)

Notice the definitive wording. There is no hint here—or anywhere else—that God's people are awaiting Satan's binding so their sins can finally be expiated. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), and those wages have already been paid in full. Therefore, we are alive in Christ now, and not waiting for an imagined final payment on the debt when Satan is bound.

The phrase “having wiped out the handwriting of requirements” in Colossians 2:14 is often misinterpreted as meaning that God's law has been done away, yet in the Greek sentence structure, it is parallel with “having forgiven you all trespasses.” The “handwriting of requirements” is the written record of violations against God's ordinances. Paul says that this “handwriting”—the record of sins, not the laws—was expunged, reiterating that our sins have been forgiven. Other translations say He “erased,” “blotted out,” or “destroyed” it. The record is completely obliterated, in God's reckoning.

Verse 14 says that Christ has “taken it out of the way.” Strong's Concordance states that the Greek word for “taken,” airo, means “to lift up; by implication, to take up or away; . . . by Hebraism to expiate sin.” It means the same as the Hebrew word used for “bearing” in Leviticus 16:22, nasa' (Strong's #5375).

In addition, airo is in the perfect tense, indicating action completed in the past. The live goat lifts up, carries, and takes away the sins placed on its head by the high priest (Leviticus 16:21-22). In Colossians, Christ is declared to have lifted up, taken away, and expiated the record that was against us—an exact match to what is said about the goat of departure.

David C. Grabbe
Who Fulfills the Azazel Goat— Satan or Christ? (Part Three)


 

Hebrews 2:14-15

Some religions make no mention of Satan as a reality. Others include him as a reality and enemy, yet they make little or no accounting of him actively working to destroy mankind and God's purpose. Jesus makes no bones about Satan actively working to destroy men. In John 8:44, in accusing the Jews of unbelief, He puts Satan's nature in plain words:

You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.

Satan is clearly responsible for drawing Adam and Eve into the first of mankind's sins, opening the floodgate to the sins of all of their progeny, all physical and mental sickness, countless emotional agonies, and the billions of deaths that mankind has experienced.

God makes it clear that the wages—the ultimate penalty—earned by one's sins is death (Romans 6:23). The sobering truth of this matter is that it takes only one sin for God to impose the death penalty! He warned Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden before they ever sinned, "In the day you eat of it you shall surely die" (Genesis 2:17). The death penalty falls immediately on anyone who sins, even if it is the first time!

Any religion that is without Christ leaves the door open to thoughts that salvation can be earned by means of good works. The idea is that the evil an individual has done in the past can be compensated for by doing good deeds. This is the very charge the apostle Paul lays against the Jews in Romans 10:1-4:

Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

In order for one to be justified before God and accepted by Him requires a righteousness that no man who ever sinned even one time can achieve. No amount of good works can compensate for even one sin. God will accept only the righteousness of One who has never sinned, and He will accept that payment only when a repentant sinner by faith believes.

Peter's statement in Acts 4:12 confirms that salvation is found nowhere else: "There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (emphasis ours). Christ's involvement in the forgiveness of sin for salvation is imperative; there is no alternative! Peter is not saying we can be saved or may be saved. The word "must" reveals necessity according to God's decree. Salvation is found through no other person and no other way of life except through the sacrifice of Jesus of Nazareth.

Salvation denotes deliverance or preservation from harm or evil. In this case, it is deliverance and restoration from the effects of sin. The result, then, is deliverance from eternal death (unless one goes on from that point to commit blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, which Jesus says God will not forgive; see Matthew 12:31-32). This is because salvation begins upon one's repentance from his sins and faith in the sacrifice of Christ for the forgiveness of sins. This combination of acts justifies a person before God, and no human works, regardless of their quality or quantity, are acceptable for the forgiveness of sins.

Does any other religion have a Savior with the qualifications of Jesus Christ? No other religion offers such a magnanimous gift. Forgiveness, and therefore justification, is available only through that perfect sacrifice, along with the sincere repentance of a believing sinner who exhibits faith in the God/Man Jesus Christ and in God's grace. God will then give us of His Spirit.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Where Is God's True Church Today?


 

James 1:15

In James 1:15, the apostle changes his description from a snare to conception and birth. Notice the reference to the growth of a person from fetus to adult—from complete innocence to corruption by the world.

First, temptation comes when desire, like a mother, conceives and "gives birth to sin." Then sin, the child of desire, develops until it is full-grown. When sin is full-grown, it becomes a way of life that without repentance ends in death. Paul concurs in Romans 6:23: "For the wages of sin is death." God says through the prophet Ezekiel:

The soul who sins shall die. . . . When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, commits iniquity, and dies in it, it is because of the iniquity which he has done that he dies. (Ezekiel 18:4, 26)

"Brings forth" in James 1:15 is a phrase Greeks used to refer to an animal giving birth. It means that sin "spawns" death. This suggests that man, once conquered by desire, becomes less than human, sinking to the level of a beast. He has not progressed to be more like God but has regressed to the moral level of animals.

To summarize, temptation begins the process to sin and ends in death. God plays no part in tempting us; to the contrary, we are either drawn away by our own desires or enticed by Satan. Illicit desire begets sin, which in turn spawns tremendous destruction and—eventually—death.

Martin G. Collins
How Does Temptation Relate to Sin?


 

Revelation 20:11-15

Are the names of the Destroyer and his constantly sinning demon companions written in the God's Book of Life? Of course not. Revelation 20:10 affirms this: “The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are [were cast]. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” The Scriptures reveal that it is impossible for God to lie (Hebrews 6:18). Yes, Satan and his demons are to be burned up in the Lake of Fire prepared for them, as Jesus states in Matthew 25:41. According to God's law, death is what they have earned for their sins.

We should understand that, biblically, forever does not always means “everlasting.” It sometimes indicates “as long as conditions exist.” For instance, the Old Covenant sacrifices were instituted forever. The book of Hebrews, however, shows that they are clearly no longer required for the sons of God. “Forever” lasted only until Christ died for our sins. Ezekiel 44 suggests that they will be revived in the future for a brief time, but when the Lake of Fire occurs, they will no longer be needed for a relationship with God (II Peter 3:10).

II Peter 3:13 makes an encouraging statement immediately following Peter's statements about the Lake of Fire: “Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” A dwelling is where a person or family lives. In the New Heaven and New Earth, only righteousness dwells in them.

Does this mean “except for the unrepentant demons who continue living on despite the Lake of Fire because God cannot exterminate their existence because He mistakenly created them of imperishable spirit”? No! They are not there because they were burned up in the everlasting fire. Not one iota of sin—not even the remembrance of sin!—will exist in those living where only righteousness dwells. The unrepentant demons will be completely purged from the New Heaven and New Earth, and only holiness will remain. By the way, “new” in II Peter 3:13 and in Revelation 21:1 is kainos, the same word Paul uses in II Corinthians 5:17, meaning “something that did not exist before.” Since there will be no unrighteousness in any form in the world to come, Satan and his fellow demon spirits must be totally annihilated.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Do Angels Live Forever?


 

 




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