Death in scripture is always connected with separation:
- Physical death – the body separate from Spirit (Jam. 2:26). For the believer who dies, scripture says they are “fallen asleep through Jesus” or “put to sleep by Jesus” (1 Thess. 4:14). Physical death is a temporary state of the body without the soul and spirit. Hades (the intermediate state) is the same state looked at from the other side; the soul and spirit without the body.
- National death – the nation of Israel is in a state of death from which they need to be awakened (Ezek. 37; Hosea 6:2). Lazarus in John 11 is picture of Israel’s national death and resurrection.
- Spiritual death – man in the world separated from God, and completely unresponsive to Him; “dead in sins and offenses” (Eph. 2:1). Apart from the sovereign action of God in new birth, man will remain in a state of spiritual death.
- Sin death – separation from the sphere of sin; “we have died to sin” (Rom 6:2; 6:10). We have been freed from the old sphere where sin was our master. This is key to understanding deliverance.
- Judicial death – our old identity in Adam forever removed from God’s sight; we are “dead with Christ” (Col. 2:20; 3:3).
- Conscience death – a life of misery lived in complete opposition to the voice of conscience; “sin revived, and I died” (Rom. 7:9).
- Moral death – a breech in communion between the soul and God due to a low state; “if ye live according to flesh, ye are about to die” (Rom. 8:13; 1 Tim. 5:6).
- Apostate death – when a person gives up the light they have professed, called “twice dead” (Jude 12). This is connected with apostasy.
- Eternal death – eternal separation from God in the Lake of Fire, called “the second death” (Rev. 20).
“Fallen Asleep”. Sleep is often used to describe the death of a believer, although it is never used to describe the death of an unbeliever. The original word is ekoimethesan; “a sleep that is induced by another”. In 1 Thess. 4 we learn who it is that has induced the sleep… the Lord Jesus. What a precious thought! Death is not an accident. Jesus puts His saints to sleep, and He will wake them up with His own voice (John 5:28-29)! Scripture does not teach “soul-sleep”, that a person is unconscious in the intermediate state. Both the rich man and Lazarus were conscious in the intermediate state (Luke 16:19-31). Those who teach “soul-sleep” leverage scriptures like Ecc. 9:5 (“for the dead know nothing”) which speaks of the ignorance of the dead. That really speaks of ignorance as to things on earth; that which is “under the sun”. No! Unbelievers who have died are conscious in their suffering, and believers who have died are “present with the Lord”.
Death Annulled. Death will be annulled at the great white throne (Rev. 20:11) when the wicked dead are raised, judged, and disposed of. In this manner, “death and hades” will be “cast into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:14). Then in the eternal state, there will be “no more death” (Rev. 21:4). Death, which is the “last enemy” will be annulled. The Lord Jesus Himself will do this; He alone holds “the keys of death and of hades” (Rev. 1:17). We read in 2 Tim. 1:10 that “our Saviour Jesus Christ… has annulled death”. This means that, even now, death’s power has been defeated. This happened in the resurrection of Christ; “whom God has raised up, having loosed the pains of death” (Acts 2:24). The pains (or, “pangs”) of death are gone… the believer has been delivered from “the fear of death” (Heb. 2:15). In the New Testament, death has been defeated, but turned around and detained as a servant, to do the bidding of God to call God’s servants home. However, death has not yet been completely done away with. That will not take place until the great white throne. To summarize; death’s pains were “loosed” at the resurrection of Christ (Acts 2:24), death will be “swallowed” at the last trump (1 Cor. 15:54), and death will be finally “cast” into the lake of fire at the great white throne (Rev. 20:14).