The Non-Immortality of the Soul

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I was listening to a popular Christian music artist a while back, who said, “A baby is not a toy, but an immortal soul.” I was with a church group one evening taking a tour of a live nativity scene, graciously presented by a local protestant church in my community. At the end of the tour our guide made an appeal and told us we would be spending all eternity either in heaven or in hell. Over and over, even in Christian circles, the serpent’s lie, “You will not surely die” has been repeated so many times that many people just accept it as fact. Many are being deceived because they simply do not question the serpent’s lie. In Genesis 3:17 Eve says, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” Why was Even deceived? In Genesis 2:17 God’s Word clearly said if they ate of the forbidden tree they would die. What was there not to understand? All Eve had to do to keep from being deceived was simply believe God’s Word. It wasn’t complicated then or now.

While we hear over and over the serpent’s lie that the soul is immortal what does God’s Word say?

He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality…. 1 Timothy 6:15-16 NKJV

While much of the world today is saying the soul is immortal, God’s Word clearly says, only God currently has immortality. 

in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 1 Corinthians 15:51-54 NKJV

God’s Word says we receive immortality after the resurrection at the second coming. No one has immortality right now. The dead are sleeping in their graves and know nothing. God’s Word says the saved will be given immortality at the second coming. This is why the second coming and resurrection are the blessed hope of the New Testament. In John 14:3, Jesus comforted His disciples, by telling them, “I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” Did you notice that Jesus never comforted them by telling them they would be with Him as soon as they died? He clearly told them He would have to come again in order for them to be together again. The popular theory of the immortality of the soul, and going straight to heaven when you die makes the second coming and resurrection meaningless and unnecessary. Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 15 that without the resurrection there would be no life after death. The popular theory of the immortality of the soul and going straight to heaven when you die, is not in God’s Word, it is a teaching from spiritualism

Spiritualism also teaches that sinners will be tortured throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity. When I was a child a lady once told me that  even if the body is destroyed in hell that the soul will be tormented for all eternity. Again there is no reason to be deceived. What does God’s Word say about the punishment of the wicked? 

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16 NKJV

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 NKJV

Paul is in agreement with Jesus the the believer has eternal life while the sinner perishes and dies. 

The soul who sins shall die. Ezekiel 18:4 NKJV

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in]hell. Matthew 10:28 NKJV

While the lady told me that the soul of the sinner will be tortured throughout all eternity, there was no reason for me to be deceived. God’s Word clearly says the soul of the sinner will be destroyed and die. Again all Eve had to do to keep from being deceived when the serpent said, “You will not surely die” was to believe God’s Word when He said “You will die.” Genesis 2:17. All we have to do today in order to keep from being deceived is to simply believe God’s Word. 

Again God’s Word is not as hard to understand as some make it appear. Paul tells us in 2 Thessalonians 2:10-11 that the reason people are deceived is not because God’s Word is unclear, but rather because people do not love the clear teachings of God’s Truth, and prefer lies instead. 

Many prefer the lie of the immortal soul and going straight to heaven when you die, thinking it sounds good. But does it really? Years ago I was at the funeral of a little girl who was hit and killed by a car. The mother sat on the front pew crying uncontrollably while the pastor spoke about how happy the little girl and Jesus were up in heaven right now. I could not help but think how cruel the preacher made Jesus look to that poor mother. Making the mother to believe that Jesus tore her world apart so He could have fun with her daughter in heaven. The theory of the immortal soul, like every other false doctrine skews our understanding of God’s love. Satan knows we are not saved by doctrine. We are saved by grace alone. So why does Satan bother skewing our understanding of doctrine? So he can skew our understanding of God’s love and grace by which we are saved. By the way that pastor also used an illustration of David dying and going straight to heaven to be with his son who died. Again no reason to be deceived. God’s Word clearly says in Acts 2:29 and Acts 2:34 that David has not gone to heaven yet, but is still resting in his tomb. As always in order to keep from being deceived all we have to do is believe God’s Word whenever the serpent lies and says we surely will not die. 

A while back I was reading the book, To Sleep with the Angels, about a horrific fire in a Catholic school, killing over 90 people. The author of the book challenged the priests who tried to comfort the parents who lost children. The priests told the parents that God needed their children. The parents said, “No! We needed our children!” The priests told the parents that God only takes the very best, thinking that would comfort them, but the parents replied, “What does that make us who are left? Chopped liver?” Some lies may sound smooth on the surface, but in reality they are not comforting nor do they help us understand God’s love. In 1 Thessalonians 4:18, Paul tells us to comfort each other “with these words” about the resurrection described in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17. God’s truth is so much more comforting than the serpent’s lies. God’s Word is Truth and it can be trusted and His Word of Truth is good news indeed that we can believe. 

Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. John 17:17 NKJV

When the serpent lied about the immortality of the disobedient, all Eve had to do was believe God’s Word and she would not have been deceived. All we have to do in order to keep from being deceived is simply believe God’s Word. The serpent’s lies cannot be trusted and are not really good news, even if made to appear so. God’s Word can be trusted and is really good news! 

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.

3: Understanding Human Nature-Sabbath School Lesson Teaching Plan

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Prepared by William Earnhardt, for Sabbath School class on Sabbath, October 15, 2022.

Main Theme: The Bible does not teach the natural immortality of the soul. The soul is mortal until the resurrection, when those who are saved put on immortality. See 1 Timothy 6:15-16, and 1 Corinthians 15:51-54.

Read in Class: Genesis 1:24-27 and Genesis 2:7, 19. Discuss the main idea of these passages.

Study: What are the similarities and differences between how God created animals and humans?

Apply: How close and personal did God get in creating man? In what ways were mankind made in the image of God?

Share: Your friend says that the Bible appears to be sexist in the way it portrays male and female roles. What do you tell your friend?

Read in Class: Ezekiel 18:4 and Matthew 10:28. Discuss the common thread of these texts.

Study: What do these verses teach us about human nature and the soul? Is the soul that sins immortal?

Apply: When threatened with death if we do not obey man over God, how do these passages help you choose who to remain loyal to?

Share: Your friend says she died for a while on the operating table and saw a bright light which she believes meant she went to heaven for a while while she was dead. How do you respond to your friend?

Read in Class: Ecclesiastes 12:5-7. Discuss the main idea of this passage.

Study: What is the spirit that returns to God? See Job 27:3 KJV and Psalm 104:29 KJV.

Apply: We often say that death is just part of life. Why is that so wrong? Death is the opposite of life, the enemy of life. What great hope, then, is found in this verse: “The last enemy that will be destroyed is death” (1 Cor. 15:26, NKJV)?

Share: Your friend is reading Ecclesiastes 12:7 and says, “See, this verse says the body dies and the spirit returns to God who gave it. This says that we have two parts: the body and the spirit. So when we die, our spirit goes to heaven.” How do you respond to your friend?

Read in Class: Read in Class, Ecclesiastes 9:5-6, Job 14:12,19. Discuss the main idea of these passages.

Study: What can we learn from the passages about the condition of those who are dead? See also Death in Light of the Cross.

Apply: Are you afraid to die? Why or why not should we be afraid to die?

Share: Can you think of someone who would be encouraged about this week’s study and the hope we have in the resurrection? How can you share this hope with the this week?