It is said that sin has many tools, but a lie is a handle that fits them all. This could be no truer than the first lie ever told. And it was the greatest lie ever told, as well. For it was that first lie that led to the entrance of sin and death into the world. All persons whether male or female, young or old, rich or poor, famous or obscure, healthy or unhealthy, good or bad have been cursed ever since.
Genesis 3:4 records this first lie:
Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’” The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. (New American Standard Bible, NASB)
The serpent deceived Eve with a lie as she later admitted: “Then the LORD God said to the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’ And the woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate,'” (Gen. 3:13). In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul confirmed the serpent’s lie to Eve saying that “…Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning…” (2 Corinthians 11:3). The apostle was afraid that if such deception clouded the minds of the Corinthian church that they, too, would be “led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.”
How could people be led astray from the pure and simple truth found in Christ? Paul goes on to comment, “You listen when someone comes and preaches a different Jesus than the One we preached. You believe what you hear about a different spirit and different good news than that which we preached,” (v. 4, New Life Version, NLV).
Apparently, Paul’s worst fears eventually came true according to church history. The serpent’s lie that one does not surely die but some part of a person lives on at death was adopted by church leaders within the next century after the inspired Word was written. As the Good News of Christ and his kingdom spread throughout the pagan world, church leaders began to agree with the pagans that death is not really death but living on in some other form.
As Dr. Alva Huffer explained, “Paganism devised its theories of man’s nature in the darkness of superstition, legends, and mythology; Christendom received its false theories from paganism.” He cites how the pagan writings of the Greek philosopher Plato, who taught the natural immortality of the soul, were integrated into Christendom. (Systematic Theology, p. 149)
Plato taught that death is a continuation of life when the soul is released from the body at death. On the contrary, the Bible teaches that death is the cessation of life and that immortality is conditional—that is, one does not have an immortal soul “for the soul [primarily life; secondarily, person or creature who has life] that sinneth, it shall die,” Ezekiel 18:4, 20. Rather than natural immortality, the Bible teaches that immortality will be received in the future when Christ returns to raise the dead on the condition that they have received Christ in their lives (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18; 1 Cor. 15:52-56; Revelation 20:6).
Dr. Huffer goes on to cite how Plato’s pagan teachings eventually influenced Christendom:
The apostles and their immediate followers were faithful to the Bible truth, conditional immortality. After the death of the apostles, the Church gradually slipped from the light into the darkness, from the truth into error. Men became members of the Church, but continued to believe and teach Plato’s philosophy. The Roman Empire outwardly became Christianized; the Church inwardly became paganized. (Ibid., p. 150)
So, the serpent’s lie that “thou shalt not surely die” has been accepted by the mainstream church. To this day, many have ignored the truth that when God said, “Thou shalt surely die,” he meant it (Gen. 2:16-17; 3:19). Death is death not life. It’s just as he told Hezekiah, “Thou shalt die and not live,” (Isaiah 38:1; 2 Kings 20:1).
It’s difficult for persons to accept the reality of death. Some seem to be comforted to think that their loved one is watching over them as an angel-like creature or a ghost in a blissful state of existence. But how blissful can it feel to watch that mortal loved one or friend go through suffering, grief, or loss? Actually, it’s a blessing to know instead that in death “there is no activity or planning or knowledge or wisdom in the grave” (Ecclesiastes 9:10) for the “dead know nothing,” (v. 5). It’s more comforting to know the very next thing a dead person will know is being raised to life at the resurrection: “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment,” (Hebrews 9:27). David looked forward to being awakened from the unconscious sleep of death at resurrection when he will look upon the face of the Lord: Psalm 17:15; 71:20. Job was looking forward to being raised to life in the resurrection: Job 14:13-14.
The Bible makes it perfectly clear that our comfort is not in the great lie that “thou shalt not surely die,” but “as Christ was raised to life” so, too, will Christ “bring to life” all those who are found in him when he returns:
But Christ has been raised to life! And he makes us certain that others will also be raised to life. Just as we will die because of Adam, we will be raised to life because of Christ. Adam brought death to all of us, and Christ will bring life to all of us. But we must each wait our turn. Christ was the first to be raised to life, and his people will be raised to life when he returns. Then after Christ has destroyed all powers and forces, the end will come, and he will give the kingdom to God the Father. Christ will rule until he puts all his enemies under his power, and the last enemy he destroys will be death. (1 Cor. 15:20-26, Contemporary English Version, CEV)
Notice that it says “Adam brought death to all of us.” And so, death has passed upon all humans for all have sinned regardless of age, sex, creed, or color: Rom. 5:12.
The result of sin is death (Eccl. 3:20; Rom. 6:23). It’s the opponent of life. Death is an enemy (1 Cor. 15:26). It separates us from loved ones. It causes the pain of loneliness, emptiness, grief, and loss. But, in this life, death is only temporary.
The reason why Christ was born is so that we can be saved from this enemy. He was born to die for our sins and be raised to immortality for our hope. When the time comes, he will destroy death once and for all (Isaiah 25:8; 1 Cor. 15:26; Rev. 20:14). Through Christ, the curse of sin and death will be removed. That’s the Good News of which Paul spoke, not the great lie that death is not really death. In fact, the Great Truth is, “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is,” (1 John 3:2).
Here is Sandi Pattti in “We Shall Behold Him”: https://youtu.be/7uW9vsI6pRI
Good News to YOU!