Let My People Think

DEATH ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES SERIES – TABLE OF CONTENTS

Death

Now, after we have disambiguated ourselves of extra-Scriptural meanings, we are in a position to define what the scriptural meaning of death is.

DEATH OPERATES ON THE BODY OF THE FLESH

Death that has been plaguing humanity ever since the fall of Adam operates on the bodies of flesh, and not on spirits. This is stated in the Scriptures quite clearly, but scripture expositors rarely tie this knowledge in with the topic of death, for whatever reason. Sin (dysfunction, being “apart / amiss” from God’s design) operates in the flesh, producing death, as apostle Paul noted most notably in Romans chs. 5 – 8, and this is also noted in a lot of other places in the Scripture as well.

Here are some passages pertaining to sin / death operating on the bodies of flesh:

2 Corinthians 4
11 For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members [of the body] to bear fruit to death.

Romans 7
23 But I see another law in my members [from the context, you will see that Paul is talking about his fleshly body here], warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Romans 6 – elaborates on how exactly the Romans 7:25 deliverance from the body of death occurred:
6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin [notice how it says “body of sin”, not “spirit of sin”] might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. 7 For he who has died has been freed from sin.

Romans 8:3
[…] [God] condemned sin in the flesh [of Jesus. Sin and consequently death operate in the flesh ]

1 Corinthians 4:10
10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 11 For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

(V.11 actually pertains to divine health, when properly understood)

One of the biggest clues to the mechanics of how God would solve the problem of physical bodily death is the covenant of circumcision with Abraham, which God has fulfilled for descendants of Abraham, via Christ (Christ is in Abraham, we are in Christ, hence transitively we are in Abraham and are heirs of the promise made to him, and the sign of circumcision found its true fulfillment though Christ in us).

Paul gives us additional information regarding this transition of a human being’s “location” from body to spirit:

Colossians 2
11 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him […]

So you see that the covenant of circumcision made with Abraham is indeed a lasting covenant, and is fulfilled in us by us (our being) divesting ourselves of the body of the flesh (v. 11 above) via our co-death with Christ, and them being co-raised up with him, which elsewhere is described as putting on Christ:

Galatians 3
27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

When you were immersed / baptized into Christ (which happens once you place your trust in him), you (your being) had put off the body of the sins (dysfunctions) of the flesh, and had slipped on Christ – or the new spirit (of Christ). We still have the body of the flesh, but we are not in it any longer. Spirit is our new homebase now.

So now we are waiting to be divested of this body of the flesh, and be clothed with an imperishable body:

1 Corinthians 15
52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

When we were in Adam, we were “in the flesh”. I mean, WE (our being) were IN it. “Dust you are, and to dust you shall return” – that’s the destiny of those in Adam. When we were placed into Christ, WE (our being and identity) are now “in the spirit”. We are NOT spirits (I have previously stated incorrectly that upon new birth we become spirits – if we were spirits, we wouldn’t need bodies to function), but we are IN the spirit part of our being:

Since we are no longer located in the flesh, but are instead in the spirit, putting off the body of the flesh doesn’t strip away our being along with it.

Here are the effects of this transition from flesh to spirit in what is one of my very favorite chapters in the entire New Testament:

Romans 8
9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you [Upon new birth, our being moved from flesh to the spirit – very important point!]. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. 10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

(V.11 actually pertains to divine health, when properly understood)

I am not saying that death doesn’t have consequences in the non-physical world – it sure does! Humans need both spirit and body to function as a living being:

Genesis 2:7
7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

Human spirit is that which is brought into effect by the breath of God (Greek word for “spirit” is “pneuma” – lit. breath-effect).

In some translations such as NKJV quoted above, the term translating the Hebrew word “nephesh”, which maps into the Greek “psuche”, is “living being” In translations such as KJV, the same word translated as “soul”. The latter term has so much non-Scriptural baggage that translating the word as “living being” is preferable. In the case of humans, the word “person” may also be used to translate the same word – and is actually used in some translations, in selective passages – e.g., Genesis 14:21 (NKJV) : “Now the king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the persons, and take the goods for yourself.””.

So, either the spirit or the body being absent or non-functional makes it impossible for a human to continue operating in their full capacity of a living being. If the body is dead – it obviously affects the entire being. In the Scriptures, in instances of physical death, the entire person is referred to as “dead” physically, and “asleep” metaphysically (I am not saying “spiritually” since that would be a misapplication of the term). That’s why bodily resurrection is so important.

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Comments on: "Divine bio-engineering. How Jesus Christ solves the problem of death of fleshly bodies" (4)

  1. Love this one. I think your first verse may be Romans 7:5 and not 2 Cor 4:11. Many of the verses you posted contain the word flesh which I think is sarx in most (or all) of those passages. I have come to see that word as being more than the physical body. Many times it is more akin to nature. Now when I read those passages I see sarx as being the nature of fallen man and the unrenewed mind apart from Christ.

    I think it is the same word Jesus used unless you eat my flesh “sarx” you will have no life in you. Unless we feed on His nature, we have no life in us. I think that is why many were offended. They were unable to distinguish the difference between the idea of bodily flesh and the core nature of Jesus. They only saw the cannibalism.

    Romans 8 is my favorite chapter as well. I have been stuck on verses 17-23 for probably the last 10 years. They have become the theme of my life, hence the title of my blog.

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    • Great observations about the flesh – very true. Technically, flesh is just a biological mass of input / output devices and of wiring / nerves, whereas body is a means of holistically expressing one’s personhood. So, body is flesh assembled to a certain schematic. If we get all of our input from the broken, dysfunctional world with its sense of sin and lack – then we will be stuck in the computing mode matching the world corruption. If we fix our eyes on the invisible order of quantum reality set in place by Jesus on the cross (aka the finished work of Christ), and we decide to perceive and access those things by our born again upgraded spirit, then no corruption and lack is possible in that scheme in principle.

      I have to meditate more on flesh of Jesus in the context you quoted, I believe there’s a lot more there than just divine healing.

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  2. Hi
    Thank you for this whole series. I have been able to follow you on the prior topics, and see that this view is correct scripturally, till we get to this one.

    I can’t understand scripturally what you mean by:
    “we are IN the spirit part of our being:…
    Since we are no longer located in the flesh, but are instead in the spirit,…..” As in what scripture says this?

    My understanding of Rom8 (so far)
    Rom8:1
    No condemnation to them In Christ Jesus who walk not after the Flesh… defined in 7:25 as linked to the law of sin and death. This law exists when Jews/ try to be justified by God by using the Law…. they end up being judged as sinners who deserve death penalty.7:7-10, vs 10 in particular
    Then 11-24. Wretched man, who will deliver me from this body of death
    Which concludes the joy that Christ is the solution because where Paul was seeking to serve God with the mind( through the truth of the law) it clashed with the flesh(sin nature operating through the body), which lead to serving the law of sin.
    So now in Christ, that condemnation of death penalty is removed if we seek to serve God not by the works of the Law,(flesh/our own good works) but by the Spirit that now dwells in our spirit part of us, the Spirit that gives Gods life to us, empowering us to overcome our flesh( which contains our sinful desires).
    Vs2 The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus(ie the law or way of Faith) has made us free from trying to use the law of sin and death (embodied in the works of the law)
    Vs3 explains this truth.
    Vs5-8 explains how the righteousness that comes from the Law is fulfilled in us not when using the Flesh(The works of Law)…..but when we are of the Spirit (Faith covenant).
    The carnal mind is the one trying to use the Flesh(works of the law/own rules, own power etc) to please God…. but it cannot , because in reality its not subject to it. Our sinful body which sin in us takes advantage of, does not do what the law requires. (7&8)

    Romans 8
    9 But you are not in the flesh (covenant) but in the Spirit ( Faith), if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you [ New Birth, justified, and set as apart as accepted by God, evidenced by Him giving us His Spirit, that dwells in us, He dwells in our holies of holies, the spirit side of our triune being]. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. 10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

    So though we are still in our dead (because of sin) bodies …..have a death sentence over us bodily (i.e. we will die) .but we still have life because (righteousness is fulfilled) and is working in us because of being in Christ and having His Spirit that DWELLS IN US… So that just as Christ was raised so our mortal (limited) bodies shall also be made alive! Vs11.

    Then we have the exhortation of vs12-and 13.

    My interpretation is open to correction…. but I say all that, to say that I can’t see that we dwell in the spirit part of us…. but that Gods Spirit dwells in us. I say the spirit side of us based on 1cor 3:16
    We are the temple…..the word there means the below:

    used of the temple at Jerusalem, but only of the sacred edifice (or sanctuary) itself, consisting of the Holy place and the Holy of Holies (in classical Greek it is used of the sanctuary or cell of the temple, where the image of the god was placed which is distinguished from the whole enclosure)

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    • Hi Clare, thank you for your comment. The clearest text where Paul refers to our change of base of operation as far as our own human constitution is concerned can be found in Romans 8. Here’s Romans 8:9 in Young’s Literal translation: “And you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God does dwell in you; and if any one has not the Spirit of Christ – this one is not His;”.

      What you are saying makes sense, but that’s a different perspective. You are saying that the Holy Spirit of God came to take up residence with us. That’s accurate pneumatology. I am talking about a different subject, though – i.e., anthropology.

      At a fundamental level, humans are said to be made up of the flesh and the spirit. We were in the flesh, the flesh is mortal, therefore our whole human ensemble (I as a human being, in other words) is mortal as well. I go the way of the flesh. When I trans-locate into the spirit part of my make-up, I am no longer constrained by the mortality of my flesh. One dimension of this is that I will be resurrected on the last day just by the strength of that change, which is mentioned in Romans 8 as well. The other dimension is this: if I develop my spirit in this lifetime and move my center of operation into that part of my being de facto rather than merely de jure – I can then begin to transcend the limitations of this physical world and enjoy a different type of life. In the Biblical terms, that’s living from heaven. “Your kingdom come on earth as it IS in heaven”. The way to make this work is through operating from our spirit.

      That was more or less the point which I was trying to make in this writeup.

      Like

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