Death is the worst. Everyone dies eventually. Maybe you've experienced the death of a loved one already—a family member, friend, or even a beloved pet. Or maybe you have yet to have someone in your life perish, and the thought of this inevitability is frightening.
People don't really talk about death much, do they? We're afraid to say "dead," so we say "passed away" instead. We talk about "losing" someone or how they're "gone," but we can't bring ourselves to admit the harsh realities of death. We talk around death.
And yet, there are beautiful works of art and poetry on the topic of death and what happens after death. If we look, we may even find beauty in the process of decay. We want to understand death, but the core question is rarely answered: WHY must people die?
Human bodies will, at some point, invariably cease to perform the functions required for life. The heart stops. The brain stops. The blood stops flowing. There's only so much strain and damage a body can take before it cannot fix itself—even if doctors intervene. And that person's life slips away. Then sun comes up the next day and the world keeps turning, but those who cared for them feel as though time has stopped as they grieve the loss of their loved one's presence.
But WHY does it have to be this way?
Was death a part of God's original plan? For people to live only so many years before their bodies broke down and stopped working? No. God never intended for there to be suffering and pain and cancer and loss and ultimately physical death. These are all a part of Creation's experience because sin entered the world (Genesis 3; Romans 6:23).
When God made His Creation, including Adam and Eve, it was perfect. Death did not exist in that world. God gave them the freedom of choice and only one rule: don't eat from this one specific tree. He said, "But from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die" (Genesis 2:17).
Satan, who had chosen disobedience to God long ago, tempted Adam and Eve with the fruit, taking advantage of the fact that they probably didn't know what "you will die" even meant (Genesis 3:1-4). They ate from the tree, disobeying God, and immediately they were filled with fear and shame (Genesis 3:7-10). Their fellowship with God had been broken, thus they hid from Him.
This disobedience caused a spiritual rift between the first humans and a holy, perfect God. This was the original sin. As a result, just as God had warned, death entered the world (Genesis 3:19). They may not have died physically that day, but they died spiritually as soon as they disobeyed God.
Every human being who has come after Adam and Eve has inherited that state of spiritual death—the sin nature, which is an innate desire to sin (Romans 5:12). And now we live in a world with sin and death. But the story doesn't end there...
God cursed Adam and Eve with pain and suffering, yet had mercy on them in their weakness, sacrificing the innocent lives of two animals to cover their shame (Genesis 3:14-21) before casting them out of their place of safety (Genesis 3:24). Things were looking pretty bleak.
Two kinds of deaths were established that day: a physical death that would eventually come to Adam and Eve and all living things, plus a spiritual death, which is that rift between God and humankind (Ephesians 2:1). Living beings are only given one life, and now it would inevitably be lost forever.
But God's first response to Adam and Eve's sin was also a promise—a promise that someday sin and death would be defeated. Yes, God knew Adam and Eve would choose disobedience, but He also knew this would be an opportunity to show His Creation exactly how much He loves them.
1 John 4:9 says, "This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him." When Jesus Christ died and rose again, He brought us new life—defeating the spiritual death we've all been born into, wiping away the rift that was rent so long ago (Ephesians 4:22-24).
"But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive." —1 Corinthians 15:20-22
We live in a world with both physical and spiritual death today, but it was NOT God's original design. Thankfully, our battle against death is one that Jesus Christ has already won for us. We don't need to fear death, because we can have new spiritual life in Christ today. And one day, "when [Jesus] delivers the kingdom to God the Father, " He will destroy physical death, and we will no longer be under the law of sin and death (1 Corinthians 15:24-26; Romans 8:2).
"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." —Romans 6:23
Physical and spiritual death came into the world through the original sin of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3). But because God loves us so deeply, He has provided a way to defeat spiritual death through Christ's death and resurrection (1 John 4:9; Romans 6:23; Ephesians 4:22-24). When Christ comes again and stomps out sin once and for all, there will be no more death of any kind (1 Corinthians 15:24-26).
Heidi Joelle is an executive assistant by day and a writer, editor, and reader by night. She can be coaxed from the house by the sound of a good adventure or traveling somewhere new. Her sidekick Smokey the Saint Bernard is rarely far off, usually pretending he's asleep.