At the time of this writing, it has been two weeks since my mother’s heart attacks, and ten days since we removed life support. Yet, amazingly, her 90-year-old body continues to function, albeit in a very limited capacity. She always was one to have the last word, and she continues to defy the medical profession’s predictions. Although death will have the last word, the battle rages on.
The Great Creator, Who is Life, has built into all living creatures the desire to live. From the drowning man who gasps for air, to the most minute plant that springs up from a crack in the rock, every living thing wants to keep living. Except, inexplicably, in the spiritual realm.
Why do we die? As always, the Bible has the answer: “For every living soul belongs to me, the father as well as the son—both alike belong to me. The soul who sins is the one who will die” (Ezekiel 18:4). But one might say, “I’m not a sinner, or at least not that bad.” God replies, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). The penalty for sin is death, plain and simple, and no one is exempt.
We are a society that shuns death. We quickly clean up and bury our dead, and hide behind a stoic mask. While other cultures weep and wail and let it all out, we quietly whisper, “If there’s anything I can do, let me know.” We value youth and vigor and indestructibility and life lived with gusto. There is nothing wrong with that, as long as we keep a balance.
At the same time, we have become a culture of death, with bloody video games, movies, TV shows, and rock songs. We actually have to take to task abortion on demand and Jack Kevorkian. Goth and Satanism have reared their ugly heads in a resurgence of the occult and magic. Road rage has matured into road kill.
However, the one subject that is still taboo is spiritual death. The “S” word (sin) has become more offensive than the “N” word. Those who speak of sin and an angry God are castigated as unloving, intolerant, and hateful. To say that sinners will be punished with everlasting death is to sign your social death warrant.
Spiritual death is separation from God. When we sin, we incur God’s displeasure, much as a child who rebels against a parent dishonors that parent and causes a rift in the relationship. Isaiah reminds us: “[Y]our iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear” (59:2). If this relationship is not restored, the rift lasts for eternity: “They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power” (2 Thessalonians 1:9). This is not a death we want to sweep under the carpet as if it will never happen.
Facing my Mom’s death has been difficult, but not as difficult as deciding to remove life support. Yet we knew it was the best choice given the circumstances.
When it comes to spiritual death, the choice is perfectly clear: “This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19). “For he says, ‘In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.’ I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). God desires us to choose life.
Although we struggle to survive physically, our tendency is to do everything we can to avoid choosing spiritual life. We won’t admit that we’re sinners; we think we’re better than “that other guy;” we deny the Scriptures, denigrate the Savior, and make every excuse possible to avoid the remedy to our plight. God, whom we often portray as a mean-spirited, unfair bully, proves that He is just the opposite when he pleads: “Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, O house of Israel?” (Ezekiel 18:31). Later, the same prophet shows God’s heart’s desire: “Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?” (33:11). His wish for Israel extends to all men today (2 Peter 3:9).
Once physical death visits, it is too late to be immunized against spiritual death. “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many” (Hebrews 9:27, 28, NKJV).
You have the sure cure secure in Christ. Why will you die?
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