Death Before Sin?


Many people, including many Christians believe that death must have existed before sin. They reason that Adam and Eve must have eaten fruits and vegetables and so those plants died. Or, they reason, they walked in the garden and must have stepped on insects and killed some of them. If nothing else, they reason, microbes and the like are present in air and water and many of those would die when the air was breathed or the water was drank. And all of these things certainly did happen before sin entered the world. But there are problems with this reasoning. The first is simply that the Bible contradicts these assertions.

*†† (Rom 5:12 NIV)Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned--

*†† (Rom 5:17-19 NIV)For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. {18} Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. {19} For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

*†† (Gen 2:16-17 NIV)And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; {17} but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die."

*†† (Gen 3:17-19 NIV)To Adam he said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, 'You must not eat of it,' "Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. {18} It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. {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 dust you will return."

Death was the result of sin. So then, what about all those things first mentioned, the plants, the insects, the microbes, didnít they die? The Bible answer is no, they did not die, because the Bible definition of living does not include those classifications of things! True, we usually consider plants, insects, and microbes as living things. But the Bible clearly does not! Letís consider some scriptures that illustrate the point.

*†† (Gen 6:19-20 NIV)You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. {20} Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive.

*†† (Gen 8:21 NIV)The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: "Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.

*†† (Gen 9:15-16 NIV)I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. {16} Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth."

Were microbes living creatures? Were insects living creatures? Were trees living creatures? Letís see what living creatures are actually defined as.

*†† (Gen 1:20-23 NIV)And God said, "Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky." {21} So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. {22} God blessed them and said, "Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth." {23} And there was evening, and there was morning--the fifth day.

So day five is when the first living things were created. These were living things of the air and the water. Letís continue.

*†† (Gen 1:24-28 NIV)And God said, "Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind." And it was so. {25} God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. {26} Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." {27} So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. {28} God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."

Then, on day six, all of the other living things were created: But what about the plants?

*†† (Gen 1:11-13 NIV)Then God said, "Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds." And it was so. {12} The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. {13} And there was evening, and there was morning--the third day.

You can see that nothing living was created on the third day. All the living things were created on days five and six! Letís dig deeper. Letís see what the identifying traits of living things are.

*†† (Gen 2:7 KJV)And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

*†† (Eccl 12:7 KJV)Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.

Animals are similar in construction men but quite different in that man was made in the image of God but animals are not!We have significant capabilities that no animal can claim. But both the man and the animal consist of dust and spirit.

*†† (Eccl 3:21 NIV)Who knows if the spirit of man rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?"

Neither the dust nor the life giving breath, or spirit, belong to us eternally. We are not by nature immortal. Immortality is something that can be attained, but only through Jesus. There is another important aspect about living creatures.

*†† (Lev 17:11-14 NIV)For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one's life. {12} Therefore I say to the Israelites, "None of you may eat blood, nor may an alien living among you eat blood." {13} "'Any Israelite or any alien living among you who hunts any animal or bird that may be eaten must drain out the blood and cover it with earth, {14} because the life of every creature is its blood. That is why I have said to the Israelites, "You must not eat the blood of any creature, because the life of every creature is its blood; anyone who eats it must be cut off."

So we see the spirit and the blood work together. Perhaps that is why we read,

*†† (1 John 1:7 NIV)But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

*†† (Heb 9:22 NIV)In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

In conclusion we see that the Bible is absolutely correct in saying that there was no death prior to sin. Man-made definitions do not trump the word of God. It seems very sad that people look for error in the Bible rather than finding the true understanding of a matter.

*†† (2 Tim 4:3-4 NIV)For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. {4} They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

I will finish with this admonition.

*†† (Eccl 12:13-14 NIV)Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. {14} For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.