Tag: spiritual death


The Ground of Focus: Genesis 3:19

Eve has eaten from the fruit, and Adam has followed suit. They have hidden from God in the Garden, and finally admitted what they have done. Now comes the scene in Genesis 3 where God lines them up and gives three speeches, one to the serpent, one to Eve, and one to Adam. We normally call these curses, they aren’t really curses, they’re consequences. God laid down the rules before the foundation of the world, and he is now telling them what is going to happen because they broke the rules.

“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” -Genesis 3:17-19

It’s the last verse in this section we’re really interested in:

A you return
B to the ground
C since (kî) from it you were taken
C´ for (kî) dust you are
B´ and to dust
A´ you will return

The center of this chiasm emphasizes the state of Adam before God put his spirit into him in contrast to his state at this moment. Now that Adam has eaten of the fruit, he is as the dust of the ground from which he was taken.

This isn’t physical death, as most readers assume. People have two parts, a body and a soul. When those two are separated, physical death surely follows. What God is saying here is that as you were spirit separated from body before you were created, you will now be spirit separated from body now. You remain spirit separated from God, but you also become spirit separated from body.

Spiritual death is the result of the sin of Eden —though physical death follows on its heals, spiritual death is what God covers with the institution of the sacrifice, and provides a permanent solution for in the death of Christ.

This chiasm emphasizes the importance of the concept and nature of death in the life of Adam, and hence emphasizes the importance of life in Christ.


Genesis 3: The Consequences of Sin (Part 4)

Separation is a major theme of the consequences of sin. Two of the many separations resulting from the fall help define the world we live in.

The first is the separation of the soul from the body —the condition we call physical death.

By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return. -Genesis 3:19

We don’t often think of death in terms of separation, but God created our souls immortal, and our bodies die. Eventually we will receive immortal bodies to match our immortal souls, effectively pulling the sting from death.

This physical death is made permanent, in this world, by God removing our access to the Tree of Life.

He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life. -Genesis 3:24

Why would God do such a thing? Because there is one final separation, one more parting, that has more impact than any other separation we’ve discussed so far.

And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. -Genesis 3:8

This final separation is separation from our Creator, God. What is the impact of separation from God?

Spiritual death.

To be spiritually dead is to be in rebellion against that which sustains you, to choose to live while choosing not to connect to the source of all life. It is a desire to be in the power of God while not being in the presence of God.

To return to the Tree of Life —why would God separate man from the Tree of Life? Because to remain eternally in the condition of separation from God is not eternal life, but eternal death —a wracked and horrible condition of eternal suicide, wishing to be separated from the source of life itself, but yet wanting to remain alive.

God, in his mercy, prevented men from being immediately cast into eternal death by preventing Adam and Eve from eating from the tree of life. By blocking the path to the Tree of Life, God inserted time into the equation, creating a space for salvation. By allowing spiritual death to result in physical death, God made the way for our resurrection into a permanent abode.

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