The Curse of Death: Genesis 3:19
God created human beings to consist of physical bodies and non-physical souls. Based on Hebrews 4:12 and 1 Thessalonians 5:23, some traditions have maintained that each human being also possesses a spirit in addition to a soul. But there are approximately 200 verses in which one or the other of these terms is used to refer to all the inner, non-physical aspects of our being as a whole. So, most Christian traditions have concluded that the words “soul” and “spirit” both refer to the same underlying reality, and that human beings consist of only two main parts: body and soul.
Before our fall into sin, our bodies and our souls were unaffected by sin and its corrupting powers. But when Adam and Eve fell into sin, sin corrupted not only their souls, but also their bodies. And this corruption of their bodies ultimately resulted in their physical death. Consider God’s curse on Adam in Genesis 3:19:
By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to the dust you will return (Genesis 3:19).
When Adam and Eve sinned against God, he cursed them both. And part of his curse was that they would be mortal. They would eventually die and return to dust. And because all human beings descend from Adam and Eve, we are all born with similar corruption. As Paul wrote in Romans 5:12:
Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned (Romans 5:12).
Sin affected Adam and Eve in both spiritual and physical ways. And because we are their natural descendants, we bear the same curse. Our souls come into the world in a state that the Bible describes as spiritual death. We are under God’s judgment, and have lost all ability to please him. We read about this in passage like Romans 5:12-19, and 8:1-8.
And just like Adam and Eve, our bodies are also corrupted by sin. This corruption results in physical hardship, sickness, and eventually death. Paul talked about this in Romans 6:12-19, and 7:4-25. Sin corrupts all that we are — our entire being, body and soul. But the wonderful promise of God is that salvation in Christ redeems both our souls and our bodies.
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