Death has always been a mystery to man. It was not a part of the creation or part of God's original plan. The Bible tells us that physical death is an enemy of God and man. First Corinthians 15:26 tells us physical death is the last enemy that shall be put under foot.
Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
(Gal. 3:13-14)
The first curse which God said would come upon man for breaking His law is found in Genesis 2:17, where God said to Adam, " the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."

Adam and Eve were permitted to eat fruit of all the trees in the Garden of Eden except the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The curse of spiritual death was to come upon them if they disobeyed God. Genesis 3:22-24 tells us man disobeyed God, was driven from the Garden, and could eat no longer of the tree of life. He became the slave of sin and death.

Before we can understand death, however, we must understand that man is not a physical being. Man is a spirit who possesses a soul and lives in a body (1 Thess. 5:23).

Jesus told Nicodemus, "...Ye must be born again" (John 3:7).

Nicodemus was thinking naturally when he asked, "...How can a man be born when is he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?" (v. 4).

Jesus explained, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (v. 6).

The New Birth is the Rebirth of the Human Spirit
The real man is the spirit. The spirit operates through the soul: the intellect, sensibilities, and will. And the soul operates through the body.

The real you (your spirit) and your soul live in a physical body. When you die physically, your spirit and soul leave the body and go to your eternal home.

In Luke 16, Christ gave us the experience of the rich man and Lazarus:
There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.

And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
(Luke 16:19-24)
Both Lazarus and the rich man were still conscious. There is no such thing as "soul sleep."

Several kinds of death are spoken of in the Bible, but there are three kinds we need to familiarize ourselves with: (1) spiritual death; (2) physical death; (3) eternal death, or the second death, which is being cast into the lake that burns with fire and brimstone.

Spiritual death is that which lays hold of our spirits rather than our bodies. The second death is the ultimate finality of death, or the home of the spiritually dead.

Physical Death in Mankind is a Result of Spiritual Death
In other words, spiritual death came to earth first, then manifested itself in the physical body by destroying it. Physical death is a manifestation of the law, which is at work within. Paul called it "the law of sin and death" (Rom. 8:2).

When God said to Adam, " the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Gen. 2:7), He did not refer to physical death, but to spiritual death. If man never had died spiritually, he would not have died physically.

Spiritual Death Means Separation from God
The moment Adam sinned, he was separated from God. When God came down in the cool of the day, as was His custom, to walk and talk with Adam, He called, "...Adam...Where art thou?"

And Adam said, "...I hid myself" (Gen. 3:9,10). He was separated from God.

When Adam and Eve listened to the devil, he became their spiritual father, and they had the devil's nature in their spirits. This is spiritual death. That nature immediately began to manifest itself in the human family. Eventually, Adam and Eve's firstborn son murdered the second-born.

Man was now united with the devil. He was an outcast, an outlaw, driven from the Garden with no legal ground to approach God.

Man no longer responds to the call of God. He responds only to his new nature; his new master. Man is more than a transgressor; more than a lawbreaker and sinner. Man is spiritually a child of the devil, and he partakes of his father's nature.

Jesus said to the Pharisees, "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it" (John 8:44).

The Pharisees were very religious. They went to the synagogue on the Sabbath. They prayed. They paid their tithes. They fasted. They did a lot of other fine and good things. But they lied about Christ and murdered Him. Jesus said they were children of the devil. They had the characteristics of the devil.

This explains why man cannot be saved by his conduct or good works; he must be born again. If man were not a child of the devil, he could just act right and he'd be all right. But since he's a child of the devil, even if he tries to act right, he's still go to hell when he dies—to the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.

Why? Man cannot stand in the Presence of God as he is, because he has the nature of his father, the devil, in him. Man had to be saved by someone's paying the penalty for his sins and giving him a new nature.

You might take a flop-eared old mule and try to make him into a racehorse, but it won't work. You can file his teeth, polish his hooves, feed him the finest food, run him around the track every day, and house him in the finest stable. On the day of the race, when the gun sounds, all he'll do is lope off down the track because he's a mule. It's just not in him—it's not in his nature—to be a racehorse.

Yet you can take a racehorse, and even with improper care, when the gun sounds, he's gone! It's his nature. He's born and bred for racing. In order for the old mule to become a racehorse, he'd have to be reborn as a racehorse, and that's impossible.

Man, however, who is a spirit living in a body, can be reborn! His nature can be changed! He can become a new creature in Christ Jesus!

It doesn't matter how well educated a man becomes, how many dollars he has, or how religious he is. Mere man cannot stand in the Presence of God, because his nature is wrong.

Man is lost today not because of what he does, but because of what he is. (What he does is the result of what he is.) Man needs life from God, because he is spiritually dead. Thanks be to God, Christ has redeemed us from spiritual death!

"For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself" (John 5:26).

The new Man, Jesus Christ, had no death in Him. He was not born as we are born. He didn't have the spiritual nature of death—the devil—in Him. Yet Hebrews 2:9 says He tasted death for every man. He took upon Himself our sin nature. Hebrews 9:26 says He "...put away sin (not sins) by sacrifice of himself." He took upon Himself our sin nature, the nature of spiritual death, that we might have eternal life.

Jesus said, "The thief (the devil) cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10).

Jesus also said, "...I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life" (John 5:24).

Jesus came to redeem us from spiritual death. Adam was banished from the tree of life through rejecting God's Word. But according to Revelation 2:7, all who now accept and obey the Word of God are brought back to the tree of life.

This New Birth does not take place gradually. It is instantaneous! It is a gift of God received the moment we believe.

Ephesians 2:1 says that you who were dead in trespasses and sins (that's spiritual death) He has quickened—made alive! Verses 8 and 9 tells us how it came about:

"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast" (Eph. 2:8-9).

Not of works. That punctures the balloon of the ego! Man wants to do something to save himself. He wants to have a part in it. But he can't. He simply must admit his helplessness and hopelessness. He must admit he is just what the Bible says—a lost sinner. Then he must come and accept the gift of redemption that Christ bought him.

"For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God" (Rom. 8:14-16).

Have you passed from spiritual death to spiritual life? Is God your Father? Can you look up to heaven and say, "Father God?" Is His Spirit within your spirit bearing witness that you are a child of God? Do you have the Holy Spirit in your spirit crying, "Abba Father?"

You do if you are born again.

If you are not, accept Christ as your Savior today!

Source: Redeemed From Poverty, Sickness, and Spiritual Death
by Kenneth E. Hagin
Excerpt permission granted by Faith Library Publications