The Life and Death of the Spirit and the Struggle of Life and Death in the Body:
Deuteronomy 30:19 “…I have set before you life and death…: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.”
Proverbs 8:36 “…All they that hate Me love death.”
Proverbs 19:8 “He who gets wisdom loves his own soul,…”
Surely you have heard it said—doubtless many a disputant has taken up the invalid argument—that Adam and Eve did not die in the day they ate of the forbidden fruit, despite God indeed having forewarned our primogenitors that they would most assuredly die ‘in [that] day’; the disgraced couple going so far,—(controvertingly it would seem),—as to live an inexplicably preternatural extension of life thereafter. Was God, therefore, incorrect and unfamiliar with such commonplace notions as life and death whose basic operations strike us, the reader, with an unfascinating degree of obviousness? Of course not. Did God not say His ways are as foolishness to man’s carnal, which is to say unrenewed, mind?—1 Corinthians 2:14. Did He not succinctly explain that if anyone would wish to be wise let him first become a fool that he may become wise; meaning, let that man review those things, particularly such things as are widely regarded as simple and common, which he has only thought he knew, but had only long been acquainted with as to result in his possessing a false sense of understanding them?—1 Corinthians 3:18. Has God not invited us to reason with Him?—Isaiah 1:18. After all, one would not think it remotely strange for one man to tell another that upon his quaffing a lethal dose of poison he likewise will die, which active form of the word, death, always recognizes the process by which the fullness of that morbid condition will eventuate; physical death not being, in this case either, immediately consummated; nor would you find it peculiar for the doctor tending to that subsequently suffering patient to speak of the man as dying, as having, in other words, begun to die, even though a turn-around may still be induced.
Nevertheless, were we to be asked ‘when’ one died, which is the question we most often meet with as pertains to this unhappy topic, depending, of course, on its propinquity to the event, we might find ourselves naturally and not insensibly inclined to offer the hour, down likely to the very minute—the specific time, as it were,—in which the individual finally succumbed to death, should we understand this to be the question put forth by our interlocutor. In light of such considerations, one might have fair reason to deduce it largely a result of this colloquial treatment, contingent of course upon our lack of understanding, but quite proper to our carnal dilemmas with death, as we must deal with them in this business called Life,—it might appear largely the result of the informality of our vernacular that we so often find ourselves inclined to mistakenly acknowledge the fatality as altogether having only arrived the moment it gains unsettling ascendancy over one’s life force as to visibly wrestle with that animating spirit in its grisly endeavor to overtake and subdue it, a popular idea which we see personified in those hooded depictions of the angel of death. And yet, while harboring such a viewpoint of man’s natural, earthly end, many have not found it disagreeable to simultaneously entertain the consideration, whenever raised, that we all die from the very moment we are born, dying, therefore, (and very strangely so) through growth, bloom, and development. Which is it, then? Can both be true? Like all systems, tabernacles, or fortresses, (which our human body is akin to), such as untimely fall to an overthrow from within, as opposed to from without, which latter attack is always achieved with a clear show of immediate threat, the typically lone agent of death, belonging to the former scenario, enters in always insidiously, inconspicuously as it might have capacity to achieve, although never without some small symptom synonymous with its more hideous intent; much as we would expect the case of the aforementioned phial of ingested poison, though it be of quite a small and dauntless quantity, whose noxious smell and awful taste, while yet a bearable unpleasantry, is but a foretaste of the more unbearable agony which those subtle traits of it portend.
Naturally the Christian would—or rather should—be informed that Adam and Eve’s death was foremost a spiritual death, God having instantly withdrawn His Holy Spirit from their physical vessels, the moment they essentially rejected that life-giving Spirit in disobedience, seeking impractically to attain unto godhood themselves, and somehow become, as we are left to presume, (paradoxical though it be), in the attainment of such success, thenceforth their own life source; ultimately the two achieving as much as you’d imagine a flower would upon having its roots clipped, and finding itself subsequently elevated from the base earth and loftily planted among the lovely overgrowth of some young girl’s glossy strands, forthwith appearing, by the stately confidence its stature still retains, as though to think itself better to be nourished by the vibrant energies of that child's overactive imagination; needless to say, this flower being fated, in spite of the best preservations, gradually to wilt and to wither until entirely devoid of life.
Nevertheless, setting briefly aside such spiritual insights, were we to carefully and thoroughly examine the opposing terms in question, and their reality in this world, we would readily discover that life and death are states of being, are conditions, with not the latter being merely an unfortunate and fairly brief, negating occurrence; but comparative, although entirely opposite conditions competing for sway over one’s existence. In addition to the Word of God, our very language and reason suggests this: for example, statements such as “The flower is alive” or “The flower is dead” both recognize the existence, or the being, of the subject whose condition is afterwards propounded. We see that without the existence—videlicet, without the being—of the flower, whose avatar is at once evoked by our former acquaintance with some member belonging to the genus, to the species, or to the type, there can be no consideration of the subject’s state or even the subject at all; to put it another way, were the flower, or rather the subject, discussed to have no existence, then one could not begin to contemplate the condition of the flower, the condition of that which was devoid of being, as the very contemplation of a thing calls into existence the thing considered, is based upon that object’s having an existence if only in the mind; in a word, if there is nothing, then there is nothing to consider. This would lend immense support, if only immense wonder, to the notion of God retaining the sole ability to create something from nothing, as many a man may not have considered his own mimicking ability to merely ostensibly achieve this on but a mental, immaterial scale: “What is impossible with man is possible with God”—Luke 18:27; Matthew 19:26.
Nevertheless, if life and death are conditions under which anything of being must continue, then it follows reasonably that we should explore the characteristics comprising these two conditions, (their natures that is), and ask ourselves, just what is life and death comprised of?—just what exactly constitutes these states of being respectively? What we consequently discover as qualities belonging to or promoting life, every one of which are utterly interdependent as to essentially be the same, springing like a fount from one vitalizing source, and having difference, such as each figurative spraying droplet might, only in their degree of expression, are those of love or warmth, joy, happiness, laughter, growth, satisfaction, animation, acceptance, pleasure, probity, and peace, while aspects of that condition’s dismal counterpart are just the inverse—hate or coldness, sadness, crying, debilitation, hunger or thirst, quiescence, rejection, pain, and prevarication, with the resulting outcome of these opposing conditions, when translated onto the physical stage of that wondrous stadium we call ‘Life’, being war; a course of reasoning that donates support to the Biblical declaration of man being spiritually dead, and that upon his being made alive by the power of the Holy Spirit, Who is purported to be the source of all life, he is only thence spiritually endowed with those qualities we’ve observed as constituting that blissfully accordant state of being; furthermore, eternal death, as is the illuminated experience of one being consigned to the indefatigable torments of Hell, follows in correspondence with these cogitations.
Only with the case of nonentity may being or existence be finally removed or annulled; and as such, there consequently is then, would pursuantly be, as it were, nothing to discuss, no subject to consider or call reference to; whatever had been would have then been erased, to be appreciable only where it survives in remembrance. We comprehend this point more clearly when regarding that same flower mentioned earlier: should it be withered, desiccated, and shriveled up before us, merely a functionless remnant of its once definitive form, we should declare it dead; if supple and intact, functioning such as to completely fulfill its categorical definition, then the opposite; should it be reduced to such scattered elements as to retain absolutely no vestige, absolutely no trace of itself, then we should proclaim the flower no more—a statement which reads like a mathematical equation of cancellation, communicating sufficiently to one’s mind the annulment of the subject’s existence; thus, we reasonably assert that that which has no being, has no condition.
Our confusion in this matter, with regard to man, results (setting aside those surreptitious sects which profit from the spread of confusion) as much from the many professing believers’ ignorance of the complete reasonableness of the one, grand, ancient Belief which, pursuantly, they must to some degree shamefully espouse, as from the atheist’s overzealous and thus impetuous refusal to acknowledge the possibility of there being a spiritual or eternal essence to the individual—that elusive, incomprehensible personality so intricately enmeshed in the physical anatomy of the animal structure as to be regarded hereon this material plain as inseparable, as being indivisibly one in the same. We discover the person—we mean, of course, to imply the soul—belonging to the body to disappear in totality after corporeal death, as if having been removed, and judge—truly postulate, as it were—that the individual, because no trace of that personal or spiritual facet may further be discerned among us, has in truth been obliterated, is in fact no more; ergo, strictly the work of some biological phenomenon. Were we to shake off our pride and limit our reasoning to what we can actually know and understand, we would in turn discover all evident considerations to fully support the possible actuality of a spiritual component, that, while the body—(which we might be prone to regard as inseparable from the person)—that, while, just as the previously considered flower, it continues in a condition of death until it may no longer be discernable and therefore definable as a body, in which case, only, we would then have nothing left to evoke consideration of the eliminated form, invariably regarding what could once be seen and known (the body, that is, as apart from any spiritual essence) as no more,—we find that these same considerations cannot apply to the notion of the soul, as we have no definitive proof, meaning observably here in reality, overtly supporting or refuting its existence; God’s Word—(the controversial counterpart’s sole respectable, historical testament)—likewise upholds this notion of reasoning as can be seen intimated in the rhetorical query propounded in 1st Corinthians 2:11.
A wonderful metaphor which we may find given to us here in life, might be that of an occupied or, conversely, a vacated house: when indwelt by mankind, whether modestly or to the point of being serried, such a structure has often been unscrupulously said to be ‘full of life’, despite the acknowledged life being very much apart, very much separate as to be quintessentially different, from the actual abode or tabernacle wherein it has been momentarily stationed; contrastingly, should that domicile be observed during a state or period of desuetude, or extended abeyance, when the occupant has either been removed or has removed his presence, we should experience no qualms in regarding the house as utterly ‘dead’ and ‘lifeless’.
A similar, and perhaps the more fitting of a metaphor, we find in that of a car. We see that the automobile’s individual parts, much like the organs and features constituting the human frame, (both of these analogous systems being likewise composed of smaller, collated constituents)—we see that these, when sufficiently gathered, arranged and assembled, bring into being, bring into existence, the notion designated by the now familiar sound. It is then that this recognized formation—a thing, having being, as it were—might be described as ‘alive’ when operated by some human, (expressly for which creature the locomotive has been designed, much like the body for the soul, and who in turn serves it for a personality, in acting upon the transport’s navigational facets which constitute its material mind)—we say again, the vehicle may be regarded as ‘alive’ when endowed with a man in conjunction with it metabolizing the gasoline that fuels its otherwise stationary bulk; thus, in light of these considerations, the conveyance may subsequently be regarded as ‘dead’ upon having ejected the man from its chamber, who serves it for a soul—(the physical man, capacitated, of course, with the faculty for sight himself, among other capabilities corresponding to the automated conveyance in a lesser or greater degree, nevertheless made to rely in the dark world, as the spiritual soul has been made to in the physical world, on the vision of its counterpart—in this case the mechanical headlights). But returning to the point at hand, we may likewise regard the vehicle as ‘dead’ if having been battered or damaged beyond performance, namely beyond the owner’s utility, or having exhausted the liquid which is to it energy and sustenance, or, better yet, having so thoroughly polluted the circulating oil which is to it the life blood, and, as a result, having so irreparably damaged the organ-like mechanisms within.
Once in this state of death, if long remaining unrevived, we may witness the deconstructive qualities of that lugubrious condition as it acts upon the identified machinery under its sway, observing the particular formation, which is indeed the being, becoming gradually corroded, becoming slowly dismantled into parts which are finally disseminated, a process annulling the being and therefore any and all conditions to which it might have been subjugated. Definition—one or more distinguishing characteristics—is synonymous with being; thus, the remaining collation of parts consequently before us, though once belonging to the car that is no longer appreciable, may only be awarded the definition it most nearly approximates; for as its existence is a product of perception, being conceived first and foremost in the mind of God, its aggregated constituents must successfully appeal to that mental faculty in order to attain actuality: identification at once being born of identity. And so we see death to have dominion over the car only so long as the car endures. As it is, on this material plain of constantly shifting and recycled components, death presents itself as the wasting away of useful amalgamations; yet that is exactly what it is in totality, in essence: a waste, a thief, an utter vanity, a lasting indolence, stealing function and purpose—those virtues which are verily aspects of life—from those formations organized to obey the order of one’s specific designs.
Thus the soul, being that indwelling and animating force, neither material nor composite as to be dismantled, once completely surrendered to death, must suffer the effects eternally, as death, reliant upon a host for subsistence, may never, as is Biblically purported, in the spiritual realm, annihilate itself through the extirpation of its victim as we see it so designed to do on earth. And just as the unconscious, integrated device, well cared for while satisfying its owner, upon no longer fulfilling its purpose, upon no longer ‘doing any good’, is with impunity heaped upon the junk pile through eliciting its maker’s displeasure, there disintegrating under the biological effect of death, so the sentient, rebellious soul, defying its reason for being, acting out against its otherwise inherent worth, finds itself cast similarly into hell, only there, by reason of its cognizance, being able to appreciate its condemned state, feeling the excruciating torment of total rejection and complete worthlessness, burning proportionately, as it were, in its own bitterness and resentment as to be utterly engulfed in a conflagration perpetually unrelieved by the soul’s inability to indulge further violations as it possessed the force to do in Life when preying upon the God-given and God-reflecting pleasures abounding within that meticulously balanced ecosystem, that animated testament to what an existence may be like when lived in accordance either with godliness or sinfulness, with the principles of life or death; these unfortunate person’s outward environs being rendered alike to the destructive proclivities of their vain souls, purely futile in all respects as to be therefore incapable even of the termination which, through consulting the biological format, should seem its natural end, a relentless and inescapable death incessantly fueled by its impenitent victims, and at all times inducing what is to them a tormenting realization of that Omnipotence and Sovereignty belonging solely to the Lord, their Maker, Whose Power they vehemently envy.
At all events, however, short of producing any tangible proof as to the existence of things spiritual, what we nevertheless do have, by the framework of what has thus far been reasoned, is indirect support of that very real Authoritative Work which testifies to the existence of the soul, namely the Bible; as it should seem that the long and laborious path of reason appears—(if such a conclusion may be thus far drawn from as yet so early an intellectual embarkment)—to have turned away in its course from the impetuously trekked, downhill, dark, and stiflingly narrow assertions of secular understanding, (which by its self-drawn conclusions would speak to the utter inanity of the existence of anything truly Spiritual or remotely Godly), and toward rather the steady, lofty, enlightening, and refreshingly open proclamations of the Good Book, which, acknowledging even the secularly observed truth (often used, ironically enough, to discount Christianity) of mankind’s irresistible and insidious tendency to commit himself, the more remarkably the more magnanimous his enterprise, to some form of onerous duplicity for the relatively easy and immediate profit virtually guaranteed him by its use—we see that the Good Book, in acknowledging this fact—(mankind’s innate duplicity)—, and separating its origin from any practical skepticism of this sort, if still it cannot be said truthfully, then nevertheless equally as the most judicious and unparalleled maneuver, ascribes all revelation not merely to one sovereign entity but one just as inviolate as He is sovereign—a trait, after all, only sensible for such an entity as the Creator of all things to inflexibly possess, as such a Being must, of course, be the standard of perfection.
Much confusion also derives from the perpetuated misapprehension that this experience which we call ‘Life’ is and can ever only be fundamentally and inextricably comprised of life and death—an idea which the separate, individual terms themselves pellucidly confute, (the whole case being, when lowered to this basic level of consideration, as rudimentary as it can be made)—and that the two concepts, unlike light and dark, truth and a lie, God and Satan, may instead be treated as hardly divisible forces not utterly at enmity with one another, not starkly black and white, but rather necessary components to the paradox of an accidental although intricate pattern of inconceivably improbable reoccurrences persisting in perfect symbiosis and splendor within a boundless expanse for all eternity but for no particular cause; which evolutionary theory, when concisely laid out in full, aptly amounts to nonsense, and, as such, remains incomprehensible to the human brain. Admittedly, our unwillingness to separate life from death is due in large part to this largely laboriously tedious experience wherein we witness the struggling containment of them both—this hospice, as it were, for the body, which is simultaneously, as believer’s reasonably hold—(strange as this pairing may sound to the incogitant)—which is simultaneously a hospital for the soul, where spiritual treatment may for but a time be researched, received or rejected: our painful reality, in a word, so wistfully and yet still so properly referred to as ‘Life’, as herein this linear plain of existence waning life may yet be seen to feebly cling, although, as the Word of God apprises us, not without hope of full convalescence.
Yet, having an explanation in the Bible more sufficient than anything we may independently discover as to how forces so at odds with one another could have been thrown to do combat in this biological arena, we nevertheless shy away from this perfectly sufficient perspective—insomuch doing, therefore, regardless of what we cite as our reason, what we would nevertheless deem for our individual selves, (each being, doubtless, a paradigm for the greater body of mankind), a very natural response, an action, which, yet again, the Bible fails not to account for within the body of reasoning we have thus far put forth, informing man that, with God being life, with Him having given life, and with the opposite of Him being death, as that is the opposite of life, and thus the opposite of all that God is willing to confer upon His creatures, all He is eager to bestow upon his handiwork, that having chosen our own insensible will in fallen Adam rather than His sensible one, in pursuit of what no doubt superficially appealed to life but had nevertheless been forewarned to treacherously harbor death, being invested, as His Word purports us to be, with the freedom of the will, which is to say, with a will unbound to His perfect own, that we, opposing Him according to our natural inclinations, sin-born beings as we are, and being unable to create any other way, must, as a matter of course, if obdurately rejecting His mercy in Christ, receive all that is opposite of what He is willing to bequeath, all that is opposite of His favor, namely the experience of His wrath, of death truly, as there would inevitably be and appear to our perceptions one mode of escape from His law, and thus a manner of utterly defying it (sagacious creations as we are) should He have instead determined to utterly obliterate the unredeemed majority whom should be permitted to continue unrepentantly in their profligate way.
What we find from our conclusions here, as we may see from all considerations on the topic of ‘God’ versus ‘no God’, is that, as with this latest circumspection having yielded an impression which inexorably appeals, if not to our free, reactive minds, then at least to our determinately inborn sense of justice—(that powerful, human yearning which no other system of doctrine could ever hope to satisfy),—as all things must be brought into account, there being no escape for any offender from such a Judge as He who is privy to all the secrets of all men—we find that the notions adherent to the existence of the God described in the Bible, eluding us in many ways mentally, (as so profound a concept rightly should!), even offending us in many ways emotionally—albeit, only those emotions leaching upon such pursuits as would verily promise us shame and discredit, (attributes of death, as it were),—that these concepts nevertheless fulfill the entirety of our beings where we would look futilely elsewhere for fulfillment, where we, when falling victim to the world's malevolence, to it's frustrating disorder, no less indeed to our own savage impulses, to such works as are truly but our own maturative contributions of evil, returning upon our heads in full and pitiless swing: when falling victim, principally, as we have, to the one great lie that is the sin and ruin of this world—that these concepts nevertheless fulfill the entirety of our beings whenever, in short, we should find ourselves in need of recompense and reparation, in need of those qualities, crucial and indispensable to the prosperity of our common nature, indeed to the very life of it, temed love, encouragement, hope, and purpose.