THE PHYSICALLY AND THE SPIRITUALLY DEAD
And another of His disciples said unto Him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.
But Jesus said unto him, “Follow Me; and let the dead bury their dead”! [Matt 8:21,22]
When we read a scripture like this the thought that first comes to our mind is – “how can the dead do ANYTHING, let alone bury their dead’? The question is a perplexing one, because we have all been raised with the thought that death usually means inactivity or annihilation.
“But in Scripture “death” never signifies annihilation, but is a state of SEPARATION”. [A.W. Pink]
At the very beginning of human history the Divine Lawgiver had threatened “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof THOU SHALT SURELY DIE”. [Gen 2;17] He had announced that – “THE WAGES OF SIN IS DEATH”—death spiritual, death judicial, death eternal if pardon was not obtained.
As said before, in Scripture DEATH IS NOT ANNIHILATION BUT SEPARATION. Physical death is the separation of the soul from the body, expulsion from this earth. So spiritual death is the separation of the soul from God, expulsion from His favor.
In that tragic yet hope-inspiring parable of the prodigal son our Lord represented the sinner as being in “THE FAR COUNTRY” a “GREAT WAY OFF” from the Father’s house [Luke 15:13,20], and when he returned in penitence the Father said, “THIS MY SON WAS DEAD (separated from Me) AND IS ALIVE AGAIN (restored to Me); HE WAS LOST AND IS FOUND.”
The prodigal son was “dead” while he was in the far country (Luke 15:24), because he was SEPARATED from his father. “ALIENATED FROM the life of God” (Eph. 4:18) describes the fearful state of one who is unregenerated, so does “she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth” (1 Tim 5:6).
That which is dead spiritually is dead GODWARDS, while alive in sin the spirit, soul and body, each being active against God.
So the SPIRITUALLY DEAD SOUL can and does many things including ‘burying the physically dead’. So when the Master said, “Let the dead bury their dead” He meant let the SPIRITUALLY DEAD BURY THEIR PHYSICALLY DEAD!
EVERY CHILD OF ADAM COMES INTO THE WORLD SPIRITUALLY DEAD!
Scripture affirms that “In Adam ALL die”! [1Cor 15:22] All the children of Adam are born spiritually separated from God. They are dead to the things of the Spirit! Having eyes they cannot see and having ears they cannot hear! They walk, as the Scripture affirms ‘in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart”! [Eph 4:17,18]
The Bible classifies the unregenerate man as the ‘man in the flesh’ – a natural man, and testifies, that “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” [1Cor 2:14]
Thus the spiritually dead man may see the letter of the Word with his physical eyes, but he lacks the ability to behold its glory. He may hear the Word preached with his natural ears, but cannot perceive the excellence and beauty thereof! This is why we constantly read in the Scriptures – ‘he that hath ears to ear let him hear”!
“The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the LORD hath made even both of them”. [Prov 20:12]
This is true both of the physical and the spiritual. If a man is going to see the ‘need for salvation’ or ‘the Kingdom of God’ then he must first be regenerated or ‘born-again’! He must be brought out of ‘spiritual death’ into ‘spiritual life’! Writing to true Christians, the Apostle wrote –“We know that we have PASSED FROM DEATH UNTO LIFE, because we love the brethren”. [1John 3:14]
“Verily, verily, I say unto thee, EXCEPT a man be born again, he CANNOT SEE the kingdom of God. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye MUST be born again”. [John 3:3,4]
The spiritually dead person can no more hear or respond to the gospel anymore than the physically dead!
Now against all this, Arminians either knowingly or unknowingly parrot once again the same old LIE OF THE DEVIL (Gen 3:4), saying to the unsaved masses – “You are not dead! Only sick! Nothing that a little medicine cannot heal, if only you will reach forth and take it”.
Commenting on this A.W. Pink once said –
“When addressing the unsaved, preachers often draw an analogy between God’s sending of the Gospel to the sinner, and a sick man in bed, with some healing medicine on a table by his side: all he needs to do is reach forth his hand and take it.
But in order for this illustration to be in any wise true to the picture which Scripture gives us of the fallen and depraved sinner, the sick man in bed must be described as one who is blind (Ephesians 4:18) so that he cannot see the medicine, his hand paralyzed (Romans 5:6) so that he is unable to reach forth for it, and his heart not only devoid of all confidence in the medicine but filled with hatred against the physician himself (John 15:18). O what superficial views of man’s desperate plight are now entertained! Christ came here not to help those who were willing to help themselves, but to do for His people what they were incapable of doing for themselves:”
Along the same lines, it is sad to see untaught men portray Christ as standing at the ‘door’ of every man’s heart knocking patiently to be let in. But even if there is such a ‘door’ to the heart which must be opened, the Scripture leaves us with no doubt as to WHO it is that opens this ‘door’!
Luke records – “And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: WHOSE HEART THE LORD OPENED, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul”. [Acts 16:14]
As we always say, the Christian contributes to his ‘New-birth’ as much as he does to his ‘Natural-birth’!
Salvation is of the LORD all the way – and even the faith, repentance and obedience which man renders are all gifts of God; and God ordained salvation in this manner that no flesh should glory in His presence . . . for as it is written –
‘He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord”! [1Cor 1:26-31]