In his publication entitled “The Devil and Satan: What does the Bible Say”, Duncan Heaster writes the following:

“We are told that “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). Sin leads to death. Why do we die? Because we sin. If it is not our fault that we sin, if it is the devil’s fault, well then, he should be punished. This being, whoever he is who is out there making us sin, he should be got hold of and punished and we should be left alone. But no, we sin and therefore we, individually, die.”

 The claim is, then, that the reason why we die is because we are punished for  committed sin.  And Duncan Heaster is not alone in this: the Sale Christadelphian website contains the following:

“Sin is the act of disobeying God and breaking one of His commandments. It creates a barrier between us and God. The Bible teaches that death is the punishment for sin and therefore because everybody sins, everyone dies.

 “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23

See also: Rom 6:23, Eze 18:4, Eph 2:12”

Again, answering the question “Does God Punish us for Sinning”, the “This is your Bible” website states:

“Not doing what God has told us to do is defined in the Bible as sin. Everyone who sins is punished by death.

Ezekiel 18:4 Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also  the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.

Romans 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

 Individuals do not receive ‘extra’ punishment for their sin. This is manifestly clear in that many sinners live full and relatively happy lives. The situation is argued through in the book of Job.

 Death is the punishment for all and every sin. We do not die immediately upon sinning because God in his mercy gives us time to repent.

Romans 2:4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?”

 And finally, this is the teaching of the CBM:

 “Questions and their Answers:  Why did Dorcas die?  Why do we die?  Because we all sin, that is, we all disobey God.” (Persian/English course on Acts)

 “Adam’s death was no different from ours. We all sin, so we all die” (Lesson 22 of 40 Lesson course)

 “It is because of sin that we die. If our sins are completely forgiven then, just like Jesus, we cannot stay dead” (Lesson 23 of 40 lesson course)

 “So we see that Adam sinned, and, because he was a sinner, he died. We also sin and die” (Lesson 2 of 22 lesson course)


 This position contrasts with, and contradicts that held by our earlier brethren.  Consider and compare these words of Robert Roberts:

 “The position of men was that they were under condemnation to die because of sin, and that not their own sin, in the first instance, but ancestral sin at the beginning.  The forgiveness of personal offences is the prominent feature of the apostolic proclamation, because personal offences are the greater barrier.  Nevertheless, men are mortal because of sin, quite independently of their own transgressions” (The Law of Moses, p. 173).

 According to Brother Roberts therefore, the reason why we die is “independent” to our personal acts of committed sin, and not because of them.  It is rather because we inherit a condemnation from Adam.

 Again, the Christadelphian Statement of Faith describes the same situation:

“Adam broke this law, and was adjudged unworthy of immortality, and sentenced to return to the ground from whence he was taken—a sentence which defiled and became a physical law of his being, and was transmitted to all his posterity” (The BASF Clause 5).

The question is then, are Brother Roberts, and the BASF wrong, or are the modern expositors wrong?  The issue is important, for unless we understand the nature of the problem—i.e. the nature and reason for death—we will not be able to understand the solution of salvation in Christ.

What we might call the new idea, as expressed above, gives rise to serious questions which demand an answer:

  • Why do babies, who have done no good or evil (Rom. 9:11) sometimes die, even in the womb? They have done no sin, yet they die.
  • Why do those who are not under the Law of God die? (Rom. 4:15, 5:13)? People are not judged for disobeying a law that they knew nothing about.  So it is written: “the law worketh wrath, but where no law is, there is no transgression” (Rom. 4:15).  How can they die as a punishment for committed transgression and sin, if they have “no transgression” and no imputed sin?
  • Why do those who sins are forgiven die like the rest of mankind? For the faithful, their sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake: they are cast behind Yahweh’s back, as it were, to be mentioned no more: “I, even I am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins” (Isa. 43:25, also Jer. 31:34).  How can the holy ones of Yahweh be punished for their sins, when those sins have been forgiven and forgotten?


The simple answer from Scripture, is that we are mortal, having a dying nature which we inherit from Adam.  So we read:

“Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body” (Rom. 6:12).

“… he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you” (Rom. 8:11).

“ … we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’s sake, that the life also of Jesus might be manifest in our mortal flesh”  (1 Cor. 4:11).

We die then, because we have a “mortal body,” consisting of “mortal flesh”.  That is why babies die: they are mortal.  It is also why those whose sin is not imputed die: they are mortal descendants of Adam.

We considered this topic in this magazine nearly a year ago. As we considered then, and as we see in the websites quoted above, there are three passages commonly used by those who advocate that we die because of committed sin:

“The soul that sinneth it shall die” (Ezek. 18:4, 20).

This, it is contended, proves that death is a punishment for acts of sin.  However, as with all passages of Scripture, the context is key.  The context also speaks of the righteous: “he is just, he shall surely live, saith the Lord Yahweh” (vs 9).  So then, sinners die, but the just shall surely live.  But in actual fact, the just also die.  No matter how righteous a man is, he will certainly die—unless the Lord returns before that event.  How are we to understand this passage?

It is self-evident that this is not describing the natural process of growing old and dying—both the just, and the unjust still grow old and die no matter what kind of lives they live.  It matters not how contrite a man is, or how repentant he is, he still has the law of sin and death as part of his physical make up, and dying he will surely die – unless he is living at the time of Messiah’s return (1 Thes. 4:17).  As I say, this passage is not speaking of growing old and dying naturally, but of a judicial sentence issued upon the basis of a wicked man’s lack of repentance.  For the enlightened this is something that will be determined at the Judgment Seat of Christ, and not before. For Israel under the law capital punishment or premature death when God’s wrath was poured out upon them applied.

There is an interesting passage in connection with the incident of Korah’s rebellion, which is helpful in this context.  The words of Moses are:

“If these men die the common death of all men, or if they be visited after the visitation of all men; then Yahweh hath not sent me.  But if Yahweh maketh a new thing, and the earth open her mouth, and swallow them up, with all that appertain unto them, and they go down quick into the pit: then ye shall understand that these men have provoked Yahweh” (Num. 16:29-30).

Here there is a distinction made between “the common death of all men”, and  a punishment for committed sin.

            “The wages of sin is death …” (Rom. 6:23).

Again, the context is key.  The full verse reads: “The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”.  When will the gift of “eternal life” be granted?  Upon acceptance at the judgment seat of Christ, and not before.  Similarly, death will be the lot of those who serve sin, and who will be rejected at that time  – and not before.

A parallel idea occurs in Galatians chapter 6:

“… whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.  For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting …” (Gal. 6:7-8).

The one who works by way of sowing to the flesh, shall earn the wages of death— but those who sow to the Spirit will be given life everlasting, again, all to be determined at the judgment seat of Christ.

            “Death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Rom. 5:12).

Yet again, context is key.  The full verse reads:

“wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned”

The context of this verse is demonstrating that we inherit death from Adam: it “passed upon all men”, for all men share his “mortal flesh”.  There is an alternative rendering for the expression “for that all have sinned,” which is “in whom all have sinned”.  All men (and women) are constitutionally “in Adam” (1 Cor. 15:22), they are part of his extended family by descent from him.  Brother Thomas explains the situation by referring to Hebrews chapter 7, where it is written concerning Levi:

“And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, paid tithes in Abraham.  For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him” (Heb. 7:10).

In a similar fashion, we were in the loins of Adam when he sinned, and so we physically inherit the consequences of his sin—as it is written: “for as in Adam all die”.  We naturally die because we are “in Adam”, not as a punishment for a specific committed sin.  However, at the judgment seat, for those who are counted as being responsible, they will be rewarded with life or punished with death according to how they have sown—to the spirit, or to the flesh.


It is sometimes thought by the undiscerning, that all of the above is superfluous: being that our ultimate end will be determined by whether we are unrepentant sinners, or the forgiven righteous.  Does it really matter?  After all, it is sin that is not repented of that will ultimately result in being rejected at the Judgment Seat: so why take issue with those who claim that we die because of committed acts of sin?  One of the reasons is that we need to understand the difference between growing old and dying, and the judicial sentence executed when Messiah comes again.

We die because of our fallen state, and the fallen state is mortality with all its ill’s, personified by the Devil (Heb. 2:14).  This essential Truth (Clause 5 BASF) is not understood by those who imagine that we die because we sin. This false idea means they do not understand what the Bible devil is or how it was destroyed.  Again, Brother Roberts wrote on this:

“…the great and simple fact that Christ was “made in all points like” ourselves, as to flesh nature, that through death and resurrection he might do that which no other man could do, “destroy him (or that) having the power of death, that is, the devil”—(Heb. 2:14). This truth had been extricated from the obscuration of many ages, and delivered from the intellectual embarrassments which had beset the question of atonement for generations. And the brethren had done rightly in resisting those who, with whatever motive, would drag us back to the old difficulties and the old obscurations.”

The Christadelphian, 1896 33 pg 219. (Voyage to Australia speaking against “Clean Flesh Heresy of Cornish)

According to the Master, “… ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (Jno. 8:22).  We cannot be made free by the Truth, if we do not know what that Truth actually is!  Again, the Gospel that Philip preached was “the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ”, which had to be believed before baptism (Acts 8:12).

To summarise, the major points that are not understood, being distorted by proponents of the above theory are:

  1. The fall of man, and his subsequent change of nature
  2. Sin in the flesh/mortality
  3. What the diabolos is

We cannot believe in the Name of Jesus Christ without knowing what it was that he came to do (i.e. to destroy the diabolos (Heb. 2:14) and bring life and immortality to light (2 Tim. 1:10)).  We must therefore eschew the theories of men, and embrace the Truth as it is in Christ Jesus.

Christopher Maddocks