Problems with 'spiritual death' concept
The term 'spiritual death' creates considerable confusion. Usually it doesn't mean to the listener – especially a doubter or unbeliever – what it means to the speaker. It's a kind of insider code talk.
Here are some problems with the term:
- OXYMORON. It doesn't make sense to redefine 'death' to mean 'life.' The concept of death and the concept of life forever in hell are mutually exclusive.
- LIFE PRECEDES DEATH. It doesn't make sense to say that a person can have spiritual death without first having spiritual life.
- COMPREHENSION. God warned Adam that, if he eats the forbidden fruit, he 'will surely die.' Adam could not have comprehended anything other than the ordinary death he observed outside of the Garden. There is no need to give death a different meaning.
- DEATH IS NOT PUNISHMENT. Birth, aging, and death is the natural order of all life, operating even before sin, a necessity to prevent suffocation from overcrowding and to make room for new life and improvement. Even stars and planets die, unrelated to decisions about good and evil. There is no need to give death a spiritual twist and say that it is punishment for sin. The punishment for sin is time in hell and denial of eternal life.
- PEOPLE WHO NEVER HEARD. There were many millions of people who lived before Adam sinned (see population chart). On what basis would they have eternal life in heaven? Or on what basis would they burn forever in hell? They simply didn't know anything about what God was doing, and God had not yet given any revelation or command. Who can say with scriptural certainty that those people, and others who have never heard, don't just die (end of existence)? Romans 5:13 says that 'sin is not charged to anyone's account where there is no law.' See Bible study here on Romans 5
Death means 'death'
We should use words only in the way they are sensible and generally understood by others. People understand the word 'death' to mean end of existence, not the beginning of a new kind of everlasting life.
See Bible study here on death and hell.
See Bible study here on death and original sin.