This is a thought process that could be totally wrong. I believe there are elements of truth here, but I think I might be over-complicating this also. I would LOVE feedback on this as I go through revise, edit, pray and contemplate it.
The picture of Christianity is often tainted by one question. Would a God who calls himself good (Mark 10:18), love (1 John 4:8), and righteous, (Psalm 11:7), truly send people to hell. To a place that is evil, of burning, of hate, etc. Likewise, how can a God who created the world and called it good (Genesis 1:31) allow evil to happen in it. How can he allow so much death?
Well I want to discuss a few realizations I have had recently about this.
First of all, we must remember that God also calls himself Savior (1 John 4:14, 1 Timothy 2:3-4). So How could God be our Savior if we had nothing to be saved from? Though that doesn’t really answer the question. In fact, this might just make you more upset, thinking, “why would God say he is our savior, when he is just saving us from himself. His creation, his evil that he allows in the world.”
This is why we must go back to the beginning, we must look at the whole story. We must start at creation.
Point 1: Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
This is critical. God created the heavens and the earth, in the beginning. This is followed by him calling it good (Genesis 1:31). So, at this point either God is lying because it is not good, but there is evil in it, or he is being honest, because God did not create evil in the world.
Point 2: Genesis 1:27 “God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.
God creates man in His image. We are created looking like God, being similar to him. This is crucial, for as we look further (once humans have eaten from the tree of knowledge of good and evil) we see God state this: “Look, the human beings have become like us, knowing both good and evil. What if they reach out, take fruit from the tree of life, and eat it? Then they will live forever!” (Genesis 3:22).
What does this tell us? What does this baffling statement and the preceding verses convey?
It tells us that God created man to be like Him, and it was His love (since he is love) that choose to create us this way, and that in our likeness to Him we had the ability to choose for ourselves to do right or wrong. What is my point? My point is that God chose to make humans like Him because of love. He also gave us choice to obey Him, or to disobey him. (SPOILER ALERT) We chose to disobey him and eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This basic choice could be quite metaphorical (is that the right word?). See eating of a specific tree isn’t really evil, but it is the conscious choice to believe that we should disobey God, that we knew more than God, that we would become like God and taking action on that which is the sin.
What is Sin? Well in 1 John 5:17 we read: “All wrongdoing is sin…” Therefore disobeying God, which was wrongdoing, was sin. Thus sin was simply us doing wrong. And wrong was decided by God, since God CREATED the world. Therefore what he said was wrong (eating from the tree) was sin. Is this repetitive?
What really happened that day though? What did God tell us would happen if we ate of that tree?
Genesis 2:17 “but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
Now. I want you to throw all your human knowledge into the air for a moment, and act as if you don’t understand what you understand. For if you don’t throw that off, I assume that when I say the word “die” that you picture someone probably with eyes shut, possibly with mortal wounds, or very old. You probably then picture graves, and either heaven or hell, or maybe the vast eternal void of nothingness. You might even picture nothing since you haven’t come to a conclusion of what death is.
Anyway, I want you to forget all that and consider something new.
I propose that when God said “you will certainly die”. What he is saying is “you will certainly be separated from me.”
Ok, ok, I hear the skeptics now. Yes, he does separate Adam and Eve from him immediately, but then they also “die” later. They die physically, therefore, God is simply saying that they will die a physical death and not live forever.
Yes, I wrestled with this too for a bit, then I realized something. What does God say he is? “Life” (John 14:6)
I AM, THE WAY, THE TRUTH and THE LIFE (John 14:6)
Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. (John 17:3)
Therefore, if LIFE and ETERNAL LIFE are GOD, then DEATH can only be the absence of God.
So where does this leave us?
1: God Creates us
2: We choose to disobey and sin
3: We therefore are separated from God (death)
4: We now know the difference of good and evil.
5: We begin causing evil, since we know what it is. Thus Cain kills Abel.
6: Death has entered the world, thus death happens. Death in and of itself is simply separation from God (life).
7: God spends the rest of the Bible, and the rest of history, and even up to now, trying to SAVE humanity. He is trying to reconcile us to Him. He is trying to give us LIFE. He is trying to be with us!
Let us go back and dwell on 6. Let us look at death. So if death is separation from God, then “physical death” really is not evil. Physical death is simply something that happens in the grand scheme of things. Physical death is not the end, but we continue on past that. In other words, physical death is a moot point if we know that we are separate from God before physical death, and after physical death. Does that make sense?
Let’s look at this from the opposite side. If God is life, and has conquered death, then we know that we can be with Him, both NOW, and AFTER physical death.
Look at 1 Corinthians 15:55-57
” O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power . But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Sin (wrongdoing) results in death (separation from God), and that separation from God happens because God said if we eat from the tree, or if we murder, or if we steal, that we will be sinning and doing wrong and thus we will die (be separate from him). God created the law (the rules) and we can’t argue with them. If he is Good and Righteous and Life and most importantly, CREATED US, then we cannot argue with HIS laws because clearly he knows best for us, or He is a complete liar, and is not Good or Righteous or Life. Look at it this way again, if God is LIFE (which I assume we all want) and God promises us LIFE and we chose SIN (which leads to death, the absence of God, the absence of Life) then we therefore are choosing to say that we know better than God, and WANT DEATH.
Does that make sense? If death is the absence of life and God is life…. then when we choose sin which leads to death, we are choosing to not be with God. If God says that his rules are what we have to follow in order to attain life (to be with Him), then obviously choosing to disobey those rules will result in us NOT being with Him. This is as simple as it gets.
The INCREDIBLE part of this all though is this. That God sent His son JESUS CHRIST to save us from our sins (wrongdoings, breaking the law) so that we can have LIFE. John 10: 10 says “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
If JESUS came to CONQUER DEATH and DIED Himself but was MORE POWERFUL THAN IT, I would think that we might want to listen.
Jesus says we can be with Him. Jesus says He is God. Jesus says he is Life.
If you want to be with life, you want to be with God, then you must accept that Sin is disobeying him.
You must accept that death (being separated from God) happened when we chose to disobey (sin against) Him and that only HE can reconcile that.
You must accept that physical death is NOT the END. You must accept that physical death is NOT EVIL, for our soul cannot be killed by earthly means. Earthquakes, Murder, Car Wrecks, Hunger, Drowning, Shootings, etc. all are PHYSICAL DEATH which is NOT TO BE FEARED. In and of itself PHYSICAL DEATH IS NOT EVIL.
The action of a human to kill another is evil because God tells us not to do that. BUT, we cannot therefore label all physical death as evil, since truly physical death is simply physical, not spiritual. FEAR THE SPIRITUAL DEATH!
Matthew 10:28 says “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
Furthermore Genesis 35:18 says “And as her soul was departing (for she was dying), she called his name Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin.” See the Bible is clear. At physical death our souls continue on. What happens after physical death though is again up to choice.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 says:
“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.“
The ending there is so fantastic. I don’t care about the clouds part. That brings to mind those dumb baby cherub in the clouds pictures which is NOT what heaven will be like. The part I love is this “so we will always be with the Lord.” WOW!
One last thing.
At the beginning God created man, from the dust. This is our PHYSICAL body. It wasn’t until he breathed life into us that we became living.
“Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” Genesis 2:7
Therefore, physical death, is not truly death. It is simply the fact that we cannot comprehend the difference between physical death and spiritual death that we label physical death as evil. Thus if physical death is not evil, God is not allowing evil when the world has catastrophes, this is simply us losing our physical bodies. It’s the spirit that really matters.
Regardless of all that. If God created us to be with Him, and sinning meant we could not be with Him (Isaiah 59:2) and that we would surely die if we sinned. Then isn’t EVERYTHING evil simply because of us? We did sin, we did cause death, therefore it is not God’s fault that death is happening, for death is simply the absence of Him (life).
Isaiah 59:2 “It’s your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, he has turned away and will not listen anymore.”