Spiritual death is one of the most difficult Bible truths to understand. It truly boggles the human mind. It is truth that human ears have never heard. To begin to understand we have to go back to the way that God created Adam – technically. I picture this special creation this way. God the Son was the Creator of all things (Col. 1:16). He made everything. He spoke everything into being (Psa. 33:6-9). He made Adam from the dust of the ground. I picture in my mind the Lord Jesus Christ in His preincarnate form working as the divine Potter, beautifully shaping the man – taking care of every detail: his head, torso, arms, and legs, and then the critical part. He bent down over the man and breathed into him the breath of life (Gen. 2:7). It is at this point that God gives another amazing glimpse. The Hebrew words should not have been translated “the breath of life.” That would have been the singular, nephesh chayah. This is the phrase that God used when He created the air-breathing animals (Gen. 1:20). The Hebrew Bible, in a crucial but silent contrast, uses neshima chayyim in reference to Adam. To make an English word plural, you add an “s” or “es.” If you sought to make a Hebrew masculine noun plural, you would add an “im.” For example, one cherub, two cherubim; one seraph, two seraphim, etc.
So, the Lord Jesus breathed into Adam literally breaths of lives – one breath for the soul, connecting Adam to the earth (earthy), and the other breath for the human spirit, connecting Adam to God (heavenly). The Lord Jesus breathed His image into us! This is the major truth that makes human beings different from animals. God equipped people to worship Him. God made man a trichotomy: body, soul, and human spirit. This fact is reflected in Paul’s words to the Thessalonian believers when he prayed that their whole spirit, soul, and body, be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thess. 5:23). The soul and spirit are also divided in the book of Hebrews. The writer says that God’s Word has the ability to separate the soul (earthy) from the spirit (heavenly), “even to the division of the soul and spirit” (Heb. 4:12). Though soul and spirit are often interchanged in the Bible, there is a difference – a critical difference. The point? When Adam sinned, both he and the woman died twice – they died spiritually and they began to die physically. All of God’s created order that was attached to Adam began to die. And this death continued because all seed – human, plant, and animal – became corrupt, stained with death.
At the moment Adam sinned, the Bible says that “all sinned.” How was that possible? Remember, every word in the Bible matters. And every word is placed in just the correct order. There are no mistakes. Death passed upon all because all sinned (Rom. 5:12). There are many who want this part of the passage to say “all have sinned.” But the word “have” is not there. All sinned means that all sinned and died in Adam the very moment that he sinned. Being the original father of the human race, everyone’s DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid, the stuff of physical life) was in him seminally the moment he sinned. Thus, we were all there – in the garden – in Adam’s loins. We were all a part of him. The moment he sinned, everyone who would ever live became sinners too. Amazing! Repetition! All humanity was in Adam’s loins: every family, clan, nation, and tongue that would ever live would come from him. Everyone was in his genes, his DNA, at the very instant he chose to rebel against God. If Adam and Eve were truly our first parents – and they were – then we had to be in them. In a rightly mysterious but in a physical way, we were all involved in Adam’s act.
Adam, Eve, and the serpent were not the only ones present. And this death began to spread! At that moment his seed became corruptible seed, stained with death. In fact, all seed of all creation became stained with death. This is how sin and death passed down through the plant world, the animal world, and through us: plants die, animals die, people die. Death was built into Adam’s corrupt seed. This humanly corrupt seed passed from Adam to Cain, to Abel, to Seth, to Enoch, through Noah, through Shem, through Abraham, etc. This would be the seed that – generation after generation – would produce the rest of us. This corrupt seed continues its journey, generation after generation.
But hold it! This is what makes the virgin birth of Christ shout to us. Jesus missed this stain of the sin and the death seed. He was not born a sinner. He knew no sin! This is why He could die for sin. This truth of people being in the loins of another is not strange to the Bible. The Scripture clearly says that all of God’s high priestly line of Levi was in Abram’s loins (his seed, his DNA) when he met and submitted himself to a strange king/priest named Melchizedek. Abraham submitted himself to Melchizedek, symbolized by the giving of an offering.
Even Levi, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, so to speak, for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him (Heb. 7:10).
The entire Levitical priesthood, though years from being born, were all in the loins of Abraham when he met Melchizedek. Amazing!