The widespread teaching of the immortality of the soul claims that when a person dies, their soul immediately goes to heaven or hell. In other words, the body dies, but the soul does not. The soul is immortal, they say. But is this really true? Do we have an immortal soul?
The creation of mankind
Let’s review the creation of the first ever human being, to see what we are made of.
“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Genesis 2:7
When God finished forming Adam on the sixth day, Adam was not yet alive. But then God breathed the breath of life into his nostrils and he became a living soul.
Notice what the text says and what it does not say. Does it say that Adam received a soul? No. What does it say? He became a living soul.
The life that we have consists out of what God has given us. This is what it looks like in simple Bible math: a body + the breath of life = a living soul.
A wooden box illustration
Think about holding a wooden box. You decide to take it apart and you pile up the wood on one side and collect the nails on the other side. You still have all the materials that made up the box, but where is the box? It’s gone.
Likewise, the creation account tells us that the soul came into being by the combination of the other two elements. We do not have a soul, but we are a soul. And when the two elements that make up the soul are separated, the soul ceases to exist.
The soul that sins dies
“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.” Ezekiel 18:4
This verse in Ezekiel echoes God’s word from way back in the garden of Eden. Sin leads to death (Romans 6:23).
When a person dies, the body decomposes and turns back to dust. Also, the breath of life returns to God who gave it. It is the process of creation in reverse. Study that more here.
Doesn’t the spirit go to God?
“Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” Ecclesiastes 12:7
Based on this verse, some people argue that the spirit is the soul that at death goes to God. Let’s look a bit closer at this verse.
Back to heaven
Notice first that the verse says that the spirit returns to God. For something to be able to return, it first must have been there. This would mean that the soul would need to come from heaven, then it would inhabit the body here on earth, and then at death it goes back to heaven.
This would start an endless list of issues. Just to name two, the Genesis verse that we just read told us that man became a living soul here on earth, when he was created. Not in heaven. Also, in the blog post about contacting the dead, we found that dead people are not in heaven, but in the grave.
So the word ‘spirit’ here does not mean soul. What then does it mean?”
The word ‘spirit’ in this verse comes from the Hebrew root-word ‘ruach’ (7307.). Many other verses (for example Genesis 6:17, Job 27:3) use the same word, and guess what it means? Breath of life.
This verse too confirms the fact that at death the two components that make up the living soul return to where they came from. The body returns to dust, and the breath of life returns to God. And thereby, the soul simply ceases to exist.
You shall (not) surely die
After the creation of man, God instructed them to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He did this to protect them from the consequences that would naturally follow.
“But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Genesis 2:17
The consequence of eating from the tree, God said, was death. In another blog post we get into why this was the case, but for this discussion it is enough to know the result.
The immortality lie
Some time after God gave them this warning, Satan saw his opportunity to present his philosophy. Notice what Satan, through the serpent, said to man.
“And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:” Genesis 3:4
There is just one word different, compared to the words of God, ‘not’. But the consequences of this little word are immense. The first lie ever told to mankind, was that man does not really die. In other words, that we are immortal.
This lie claims that we are equal to God, of whom the Bible says that He alone has immortality (1 Timothy 6:16). And that was the point of Satan’s lie, to have mankind believe that they can be like God themselves (Genesis 3:5).
Today, this ancient lie is in some form taught in almost all religions, and even in most Christian churches. But the Bible is clear, man does not have an immortal soul.
Live God’s Word Today -application
Accepting the false teaching of the immortality of the soul opens the door to believe many more errors. Hopefully this Bible study has helped you to see that when we die, our soul ceases to exist, it does not go to heaven. Are you willing to accept this Bible truth?