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Original Sin Myth #6: 

God's warning that Adam and Eve would surely die if they disobeyed His commandment was an empty threat given that their only punishment was being cast out of the Garden of Eden.


The Biblical Concepts of Life and Death

When a follower asked Jesus if he could go home to bury his deceased father, Jesus said, "Leave the dead to bury their own dead."2(Luke 9:60)RS|KJ|NI From these words of Jesus, it is clear that the Bible contains two different concepts of life and death. The first concept of life and death concerns physical life. Here, "death" means the end of physical life, as was the case of the disciple's deceased father who was to be buried. "Life" in that sense means the state in which the physical self maintains its physiological functions.

The second concept of life and death concerns those living people who had gathered to bury the deceased man, those whom Jesus called "the dead." Why did Jesus refer to people whose bodies were alive and active as the dead? He meant that since they had not accepted Jesus, they were far removed from the love of God and were dwelling in the realm of Satan's dominion. This second concept of death does not refer to the expiration of physical life. It means leaving the bosom of God's love and falling under the dominion of Satan. The corresponding concept of life refers to the state of living in accordance with God's Will, within the dominion of God's infinite love. Therefore, even if a person's physical self is alive, if he dwells apart from God's dominion and is in servitude to Satan, he is dead as judged by the original standard of value. A similar conclusion can be drawn from the Lord's words of judgment upon the faithless people of the church in Sardis: "You have the name of being alive, and you are dead."3(Rev. 3:1)RS|KJ|NI

On the other hand, even though a person's physical life may have expired, he remains alive in the true sense if his spirit abides in the Kingdom of Heaven in heaven, a realm in the spirit world where God governs through love. When Jesus said, "he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,"4(John 11:25)RS|KJ|NI he meant that those who believe in him and live within the realm of God's dominion have life. Even after their physical bodies have returned to the soil, their spirits enjoy life in God's dominion. Jesus also said, "whoever lives and believes in me shall never die."5(John 11:26)RS|KJ|NI In saying that believers will never die, he meant that those who believe in Jesus during their earthly life will obtain eternal life not in this world, but in spirit, within the bosom of God's love. They will be alive, both in this life and the next. Jesus' words assure us that death, in the sense of the end of physical life, has no effect on our eternal life.

Jesus said, "Whoever seeks to gain his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it."6(Luke 17:33)RS|KJ|NI Those who transgress the Will of God in order to preserve the well-being of their flesh, though their bodies are alive, are dead. On the other hand, those who sacrifice their bodies for the sake of God's Will are alive, even though their bodies are buried and decayed. They live forever as spirits in the love of God.

1.2 The Death Caused by the Human Fall

We have learned that there are two different biblical concepts of death. Which of the two refers to the death brought about by the Fall of the first human ancestors?

God created human beings to grow old and return to dust; physical death was allotted to human beings regardless of whether or not they fell. Adam died at the biblical age of 930 years, and his flesh returned to dust; but this was not the death caused by the Fall. According to the Principle of Creation, the flesh is the clothing of the spirit. Just as one discards worn-out clothes, the flesh is to be discarded when it has grown old and weak. Only the unclothed spirit self then enters the spirit world and lives there eternally. Nothing material can live forever. Human beings are no exception; our bodies cannot live eternally. If human beings were to live on earth forever in the flesh, why did God create the spirit world as our final destination? The spirit world was not created after the Fall as a place for fallen spirits to abide. Rather, it is part of the original creation, created as the place where individuals who fulfill the purpose of creation will enjoy eternal life as spirits after their life on earth has come to an end.

Most people are attached to their earthly life. They regret its passing because, due to the Fall, they are ignorant of the fact that after they discard their clothes of flesh, they are meant to live forever in the beautiful and eternal spirit world. The transition from physical life to life in the spirit world may be compared to the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly. If the caterpillar had self-awareness, it might feel the same attachment to its limited existence climbing about the leaves of a plant as people do to their earthly life. It, too, would probably be reluctant to end its existence as a caterpillar, unaware that it is destined to enter a new phase of life as a butterfly, when it will enjoy fragrant flowers and sweet nectar to its heart's content.

The relationship between earthly existence and the life of a spirit is akin to the relationship of caterpillar and butterfly. Moreover, if there had been no Fall, earthly people would be able to relate with spirits just as naturally as they relate among themselves. They would know that death is not the final departure from their loved ones on earth. If people knew what a beautiful and happy world they will enter after they attain perfection on earth and die a natural death, they would look forward eagerly to the day they enter that world.

Since the Fall did not cause death in the sense of the expiration of physical life, we can surmise that what it brought was the other type of death. Let us examine this further. God told Adam and Eve that on the day they ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil they would surely die.7(Gen. 2:17)RS|KJ|NI Since God so warned them, it must be that when Adam and Eve ate of the fruit, they did in fact die. Yet Adam and Eve after the Fall continued their earthly life and bore children, who multiplied to form today's corrupt human society. We can conclude that the death caused by the Fall does not mean the end of physical life, but rather the descent from the good dominion of God into the evil dominion of Satan.

Let us draw additional support from the Bible. It is written, "We know that we have passed out of death into life because we love the brethren. He who does not love remains in death."8(I John 3:14)RS|KJ|NI Love here means the love of God. A person who does not love his neighbors with God's love is dead, even though he remains active and alive on earth. This is also the sense of the verses "The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life"9(Rom. 6:23)RS|KJ|NI and "To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the spirit is life and peace."10(Rom. 8:6)RS|KJ|NI

Had Adam not fallen but attained the tree of life, all his descendants could also have attained the tree of life. They would have built the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. But Adam fell, and God blocked his path to the tree with a flaming sword. Ever since, despite the best efforts of fallen people to restore the ideal of creation, the tree of life has remained an unattainable dream. Burdened by the original sin, fallen people cannot complete the ideal of creation and become trees of life by their own efforts alone. For this ideal to be achieved, a man who has completed the ideal of creation must come to the earth as a tree of life. All of humanity must then be engrafted with him(Rom. 11:17)RS|KJ|NI and become one with him. Jesus was the man who came as this tree of life. The tree of life for which the faithful people of the Old Testament Age longed8(Prov. 13:12)RS|KJ|NI was none other than Jesus.

Ever since God blocked Adam's path to the tree of life by guarding it with the flaming sword, the tree could not be approached without first clearing the path. On the day of Pentecost, tongues of fire descended upon the saints, and they were filled with the Holy Spirit.9(Acts 2:3-4)RS|KJ|NIThis event marked the clearing of the path and the moving aside of the flaming sword, which appeared as the tongues of fire preceding the rush of the Holy Spirit. It opened the way for all humanity to approach Jesus, the tree of life, and be engrafted with him.



Excerpt from:

Exposition of the Divine Principle

The Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity

4 West 43rd Street, New York, NY 10036

Copyright H.S.A.-U.W.C., 1996

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