Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.
No one sets out to be a spiritually dead Christian. However, many Christians end up that way. Christians don't become spiritually dead all of a sudden. It is a process that happens over time.
Learn the early signs of becoming spiritually dead and do something about the situation before it is too late.
A Spiritual Dead Christian: Definition
First of all, let's define a spiritually dead Christian and explain what it means to be one. Even though the expression is not found in the Bible, the concept is there. Spiritual death is different from physical death. In other words, a person can be spiritually dead while still being physically alive here on earth.
- Physical death is the separation of the soul from the body when a person dies.
- Spiritual death is the separation of the soul from God while people are still alive.
Sin Causes Spiritual Death
We are all born spiritually dead. After Adam and Eve sinned, the death sentence was pronounced on them and passed down to all other human beings. Therefore, all people are born with a sinful nature with the propensity to sin. In other words, we inherited our sinful nature from Adam.
Causes of Spiritual Death
- Not spending time with God
- Not practicing spiritual disciplines
- Not focusing on God and the things of God
- Living in sin
Just as the things in the above list will cause spiritual death, doing the opposite can reverse it. When a person sins, he is alienated from God's presence because a holy God cannot look on sin. Spiritual death can be reversed by genuine repentance and by living a righteous life.
Spiritual Death Can Be Reversed
In Genesis 2:17, God tells Adam that in the day he eats of the forbidden fruit he will “surely die.” Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, but they did not die physically. However, they did die spiritually as soon as they sinned. They became separated from God. They could no longer have fellowship with Him. They were no longer in a personal relationship with God.
That separation from God is seen in Genesis 3:8 when Adam and Eve heard the voice of the Lord and “hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God.”
Another example is in the New Testament when Paul describes spiritually death as “being alienated from the life of God” in Ephesians 4:18.
When someone dies physically, the action cannot be reversed. On the other hand, spiritual death can be reversed when a person does the following things:
- Repent for sins: According to 1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
- Develop a habit of spending time with God on a regular basis. That way you will not have to introduce yourself to God every time you need to talk to Him.
- Practice spiritual disciplines, such as regular Bible reading, praying to God, praising God, and meditation on God and God's word.
- Focus on God. In other words, do nothing without seeking God and consulting with God first, according to Matthew 6:33. Make God part of everything you do.
- Live a righteous life as much as possible by being faithful to God and kind to all people.
What God Thinks About Spiritual Death
If you want to know what God thinks about spiritual death, read what Jesus spoke to the church of Sardis. Jesus said, "I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead" (Revelation 3:1).
First, Jesus acknowledged that the church had a reputation for doing good works, but the truth of the matter was that the people were doing work as if they were zombies. They were going through the motion, but there was no spirit in what they were doing. They were relying on the false praises of those who commended them for their work, but Jesus saw beneath the surface and condemned them for being spiritually dead.
Sardis no longer depended on the Holy Spirit to guide them in leading the church. They were more than likely running the church like they wanted to instead of focusing on what God wanted. Surely, their outward appearance seemed to be full of life. Actually, the church was spiritually dead.
Jesus just didn't warn the church about what they were doing wrong. He also told the church how to get out of the serious condition the church was in. Jesus assured them that the only remedy for spiritual death was true repentance. Jesus said:
"Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you" (Revelation 3:2-3).
After Jesus told the church about repentance and warned them what would happen if they didn't repent, He acknowledged that everyone in the church was not spiritually dead. Jesus also had something to say about them.
"Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches" (Revelation 3:4-6).
There are many churches today that are just like the Sardis church. Like Sardis, some churches have a reputation for doing good work, but their members are spiritually dead.
Some of the people keep busy by doing the work of God, but they don't take time to have a personal relationship with God. They are separated from God, alienated, and isolated from Him.