One question that seems to come up often, in the discussion on the doctrine of original sin, is “Why do people die?” Another offshoot of this question is, “If babies aren’t born sinners, then why do they die?” The implication is that the reason why everyone dies physically, is directly because of their own personal sin. In the case of the infant, they die because Adam’s sin is also “their sin”, i.e. the “doctrine of original sin”. In the case of adults, they die because of their own personal sin, that they continue in until the day they die, i.e. the “doctrine of perpetual sinfulness.”
Both of these “answers” to the question of, why people die are wrong. Both are insufficient answers to the question. If everyone dies because of their own personal sin (whether they actually committed it or they “committed it” in Adam), then we have a GREAT PROBLEM. This one problem should be enough to utterly demolish such unbiblical thinking. Are you ready?
WHY DID JESUS DIE?
Well, what’s your answer? If everyone dies because of their own personal sin, then what does that mean about Jesus? It means that Jesus sinned, right? What does that make Jesus? It makes Jesus into a sinner, right? Is that really the position that you want to take? I hope not.
Let’s examine this question, a little further. Let’s go back to the beginning, right after Adam and Eve sinned. Let’s see what God had to say to them and see if we can get an answer to, “Why do people die?”
Genesis 3:22-24 says, “22 Then the Lord God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever’— 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. 24 So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.”
Why did God ban Adam and Eve from the garden of Eden? Genesis 3:22b says, “And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”. If staying in the garden of Eden would’ve resulted in Adam and Eve eating of the tree of life and living forever, what does getting kicked out of the garden of Eden and therefore being banned from the tree of life mean? It means that they will not “live forever”. It means that they will eventually die.
And since Adam and Eve were kicked out of the garden of Eden, so were all of the people who would come from them – their descendants. Who are their descendants? EVERYONE – you, me, Noah, King David, your mom, your weird uncle, your second cousin (twice removed), your great aunt with the facial hair, Hitler, Osama Bin Laden, Napoleon and yes, even Jesus Christ. We were ALL barred from accessing the garden of Eden and therefore, the tree of life. That means that we will ALL EVENTUALLY die (physically).
1 Corinthians 15:20-23 says, “20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.”
We are ALL “in Adam”, including babies, Christians and Jesus Christ. Babies, Christians and Jesus (along with everyone else) have the potentiality to die, because they are “in Adam”. Adam was banned from the garden of Eden and from the tree of life and so are all his descendants. It really is that simple.
Now, the specific reasons that people actually die, are dependent upon their situations. Some people DO die as a result of their actual sin – drug addicts overdose at times. Sometimes thieves will get shot in the midst of their stealing. Sometimes homosexuals will die from AIDS. Sometimes drunkards will destroy their liver and die from it. Sometimes cigarette smokers die from cancer.
Some people DO die as a result of someone else’s sin (that they are NOT responsible for): Unborn babies are killed everyday by the thousands. Drunk drivers kill other drivers everyday. Muslims are constantly killing Christians. Innocent victims die as a result of drive-by shootings, in neighborhoods all over America. Greed and covetousness lead people to kill others, as well.
BUT, these are SPECIFIC reasons why people die and do not answer the general question of, “Why do people die?” The reason that everyone dies is because of Adam and Eve’s sin. After they sinned, they were kicked out of the garden of Eden and barred from the tree of life. All of their descendants were likewise, barred from the tree of life, because they are “in Adam”. That is why we all have the ability to die and ultimately will die. The only exception to this is those Christians who are alive when Jesus returns.
This video may also be of some help to you: