The Punishment for Sin: Death in Three Forms

She sat at the kitchen table in her grandparents’ house, her eyebrows scrunched together in the deepest fear of a seven-year-old girl. Grandma had been telling her about hell and now little Manda begged Jesus not to let her go there.

Fast forward eight years.

She is sitting in a pew, listening to the pastor speak about the punishment for sin. He is about halfway into the sermon but much to Manda’s surprise, he hasn’t even mentioned hell, yet. Instead, he is going on about separation from God. Is she missing something?

Sin comes only at a heavy price: three types of death. Can you pay?

Indeed, hell is part of the punishment for sin, but it is only a part of it. There are, in fact, three types of death:

#1. Physical death (we’re born, we live, we die)

“By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”

-Genesis 3:19

This is what we typically think of when we hear “death”. The heart stops beating, the lungs stop breathing, the body decays. Some die young, some die old. We all die. Death was first introduced in chapter 3 of Genesis (quoted above) when God cursed mankind for the sin of Adam and Eve.

Because we sin, we die a physical death.

#2. Spiritual death (AKA separation from God)

As for you, you were dead in your trangressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.

-Ephesians 2:1-2

This is what Manda’s pastor was talking about. It’s mankind’s biggest problem. It’s enormous! Everyone is born spiritually dead, meaning that we’re unable to be near God because we’re defiled by our own sin nature. It’s a very dark place. People here, we don’t realize what a terrible thing it is to be apart from God and don’t see their need to be saved.

Because we sin, we are born spiritually dead.

#3. Eternal death (hell… forever)

Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.

-Revelation 20:15

Hell is a place of torment with no hope, no end and no way out. People in hell are alive in the sense that they are conscious and aware, but it is not worth calling “life”. In fact, the person in hell would die if he/she could, but physical death is not possible.

Because we sin, and if we remain in our sins, we experience eternal death.

To take away:

This is a very heavy topic, but my goal is not for you to leave depressed. I hope instead that you will think about how serious of an offense sin is to God.

If you are a child of God: rejoice; this is what He has saved you from! You are free!

If you are not a Child of God: consider that your sins come at a heavy price. Are you willing to pay it?

Next week’s blog post, will be a follow-up to this one. What can we do about this 3-death punishment? In the meantime:


  • What sin is and why it is so serious: read this post

Now let’s talk

Tell me…

  • What’s so terrible about sin that it warrants such serious consequences?
  • Which type of death scares you the most? Why?
  • How can you escape these deaths?



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