There are only four verses in the Bible that directly mention “the second death,” all of which are in the Book of Revelation. None of these verses, however, plainly spells out what this mysterious phrase means, and few people seem to even notice its presence; it’s rarely mentioned or spoken of. We need revelation and understanding from the Lord to receive what He is telling us about His Victory over death.
No one knows what the second death is, and those who think they know most often make unfounded assumptions that lead to faulty conclusions. The religious consensus is that the second death is eternal separation from God. One website puts it this way:
“The Bible, God’s Word, clearly proclaims that there is a ‘second death.’ The first death is the physical death, when a man’s soul and spirit are separated from his body. The second death is a physical and spiritual death, suffering in the Lake of Fire for all eternity. We see this clear distinction in Matthew 10:28, ‘And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell’” (http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/Believer’s%20Corner/Doctrines/second_death.htm)
This explanation begs some questions. If the first death separates a man from his body, how is the second death also physical, seeing the body has been removed? Another question would be, “What then does the second death separate one from?” The writer says it’s a spiritual death. What does that mean? Isn’t everyone already spiritually dead apart from God?
The thing to be reckoned with, the Lord says (Matthew 10:28), isn’t physical death, but is rather destruction of body and soul in Gehenna (which refers to a place of fire/burning, one of three Greek words in the Gospels translated as “hell”). When something is destroyed by fire it’s lost. Therefore, the destruction God speaks of is an end, not an endless state. God’s purpose has never been “eternal” suffering without end. (The True, Scriptural Meanings of “Forever,” “Everlasting,”)
No one can take for granted knowing what the words in the Bible mean and how they’re to be interpreted. We must not go by our own understanding, but by God’s:
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor your ways My ways, says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9 MKJV).
So before we talk about the second death, may the Lord establish what the first death is, according to His Word. The first death came when Eve was deceived and Adam followed her contrary to God’s commandment:
“And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die’” (Genesis 2:16-17).
The first death began when Adam disobeyed and ate from the forbidden tree. Thereafter he was afraid and hid from God. Adam became separated from God, the Spirit of Life. He and his wife were removed from the Garden.
So the first death wasn’t physical – it was spiritual, a state we’ve inherited from Adam:
“Therefore, even as through one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed on all men inasmuch as all sinned” (Romans 5:12).
Jesus spoke of this state of death when calling His disciples to follow Him:
“But Jesus said to him, Follow Me, and let the dead bury their dead” (Matthew 8:22).
Those who follow Jesus are alive to God and can never die again, if they continue in faith:
“For He is not God of the dead, but of the living. For all live to Him” (Luke 20:38).
“Jesus said to her, I am the Resurrection and the Life! He who believes in Me, though he die [physically], yet he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26 MKJV)
Paul spoke of the first death, and how all who believe are delivered from it:
“And He has made you alive, who were once dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1).
(4) But God, Who is rich in mercy, for His great love with which He loved us
(5) (even when we were dead in sins) has made us alive together with Christ (by grace you are saved),
(6) and has raised us up together and made us sit together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus,
(7) so that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
“Who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His Own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before times eternal, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, Who abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the Good News” (2 Timothy 1:9-10 WEB).
“And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses” (Colossians 2:13).
Our sins forgiven, the first death is made obsolete by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and reverence of God.
“The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death” (Proverbs 14:27).
If we fear the One from Whom we receive life, the LORD God Who oversees all, we will not be subject to fear of death and evil.
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Psalms 23:4).
The fear of God is the Fear of Life, the Worthy Fear, the Fear that Delivers: “For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7 MKJV).
Fear of anything or anyone else brings death, for any other fear is idolatry, which is sin. The wages of sin is death, which is manifest in torment, in hell – a state of darkness (ignorance and foolishness), desolation (fruitlessness), and despair (absence of hope).
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear has torment. He who fears has not been perfected in love” (1 John 4:18 MKJV).
So what is the second death, and how does it relate to the “hell” of common nominal Christian doctrine, which is equated to the Lake of Fire? As mentioned, besides “Gehenna” (the place of fire), two other words are translated as “hell” in the Gospels. The most common one, “Hades,” is an “unseen” place, because its inhabitants are in darkness. It is Hades that is cast into the Lake of Fire, along with death. This is called “the second death.”
“And death and hell were cast into the Lake of Fire. This is the second death” (Revelation 20:14 KJV).
What happens in this second death? What does fire do? It breaks down and releases the elements of whatever it consumes. Fire destroys, but not all is lost forever. God’s fire puts an end to sin, to waywardness, to rebellion, and establishes His harmonious rule over all things, which is Life.
“Then is the end, when He [Christ] delivers the Kingdom to God, even the Father; when He makes to cease all rule and all authority and power. For it is right for Him to reign until He has put all the enemies under His feet. The last enemy made to cease is death” (1 Corinthians 15:24-26).
Through the Lake of Fire, God puts away the ultimate enemies of mankind – death and hell (the place of separation and darkness, the absence of love and light). Therefore, how can death be “eternal” when Christ brings it to an end by the second death? God Himself is the end – His Reign consumes and transforms all things:
“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the First and the Last” (Revelation 22:13).
“Then the dust shall return to the earth as it was, and the spirit shall return to God Who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7).
“For our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29).
“And He sitting on the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And He said to me, Write, for these words are true and faithful” (Revelation 21:5 MKJV).
God fills all realms, including hell, performing the complete work He paid for and accomplished in Christ.
“Where can I go to get away from Your Spirit? Where can I run to get away from You? If I go up to Heaven, You are there. If I make my bed in hell, You are there” (Psalms 139:7-8 GW).
All will be consumed and renewed through Christ. Those who don’t know and confess Him as the End of Everything haven’t come to their end through His consuming fire. They haven’t overcome and transcended the second death. However, there remains a complete victory over death and hell for everyone, each in his own order.
“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order…” (1 Corinthians 15:22-23 MKJV).
The fire of God removes every impurity and cleanses the polluted soul:
“John answered all, saying, I indeed baptize you with water, but He Who is mightier than I comes, the thong of Whose sandals I am not worthy to loose. He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire, Whose fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor and will gather the wheat into His storehouse. But He will burn the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Luke 3:16-17 MKJV).
“If anyone’s work shall be burned up, he shall suffer loss. But he shall be saved, yet so as by fire” (1 Corinthians 3:15 MKJV).
“But who may abide the day of His coming? And who shall stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness” (Malachi 3:2-3 KJV).
The fires come for all – none can forestall or escape:
“For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt” (Mark 9:49 MKJV).
“Behold, He comes with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, and those who pierced Him will see Him, and all the kindreds of the earth will wail because of Him. Even so, Amen” (Revelation 1:7 MKJV).
“From new moon to new moon, and from Sabbath to Sabbath, all flesh shall come to worship before Me, declares the LORD. And they shall go out and look on the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against Me. For their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh” (Isaiah 66:23-24 ESV).
We first find the specific term, the second death, in Revelation 2, when the Lord exhorts the seven churches (assemblies) in Asia to persevere in faith and overcome:
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies. He who overcomes won’t be harmed by the second death” (Revelation 2:11 WEB).
John is writing to believers, not the world in general. Those who have been delivered from the first death by the Lord Jesus Christ must continue in His faith and overcome:
“I write to you, fathers, because you have known Him Who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, little children, because you have known the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you have known Him Who is from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the Word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one” (1 John 2:13-14).
This overcoming requires going through the fires, a painful ordeal, but God’s promise is that by faith, nothing will permanently hurt us:
“And God will wipe away all tears from their eyes. And there will be no more death, nor mourning, nor crying out, nor will there be any more pain; for the first things passed away” (Revelation 21:4).
Once you start walking in the faith of Christ, you must go all the way forsaking yourself by death of the cross. Then you will be permanently established in Him and have Eternal Life. Then nothing can be taken away from you and there is no more loss or pain.
“Him who overcomes I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will go out no more. And I will write upon him the Name of My God, and the Name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of Heaven from My God, and My New Name” (Revelation 3:12 MKJV).
The second Scripture using the term, the “second death”:
Revelation 20:4-6 EMTV
(4) And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them, and the souls of those who had been beheaded on account of the testimony of Jesus, and on account of the Word of God, and those who had not worshipped the beast or his image, and they did not receive the mark on their forehead or on their hand. And they came to life and reigned with Christ for the thousand years.
(5) But the rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
(6) Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection. Over these the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him for a thousand years.
The second death’s power is nullified when our lives are yielded to God, our souls having endured and completely overcome death by the resurrection life of Jesus Christ. His Resurrection Power is greater than the Lake of Fire, which cannot kill the one who walks by faith.
And when the fires of God have completed their work in the soul committed to Him, Jesus Christ is manifested on earth through His Body, which reigns with Him and brings His judgment and life to others. The Resurrection never dies nor sleeps (Psalm 121:3 – “He Who keeps you will not slumber”). God is ever present.
The third Scripture:
Revelation 20:11-15 MKJV
(11) And I saw a great white throne, and Him sitting on it, from Whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And a place was not found for them.
(12) And I saw the dead, the small and the great, stand before God. And books were opened, and another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
(13) And the sea gave up the dead in it. And death and hell delivered up the dead in them [note that death and hell could not hold their inhabitants forever]. And each one of them was judged according to their works.
(14) And death and hell were cast into the Lake of Fire. This is the second death.
(15) And if anyone was not found having been written in the Book of Life, he was cast into the Lake of Fire.
Mankind is brought before God’s great white judgment throne when judgment is given to His saints (verse 4) in Christ, the Son.
John 5:22-27 MKJV
(22) For the Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment to the Son,
(23) so that all should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father Who sent Him.
(24) Truly, truly, I say to you, He who hears My Word and believes on Him Who sent Me has everlasting life and shall not come into condemnation, but has passed from death to life.
(25) Truly, truly, I say to you, The hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they who hear shall live.
(26) For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has given to the Son to have life within Himself,
(27) and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man.
“If I [Christ and His Body] had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin” (John 15:22).
Those suffering the first death are judged, being brought to consciousness of their sins by the Word of God and cast into the Lake of Fire (a spiritual, not physical place). This is the second death that deals with the sinner, where death and hell are put away once and for all.
“Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low, and the crooked shall be straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth. And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” (Luke 3:5-6 MKJV).
“And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh…” (Acts 2:17 ESV).
“For everyone will be salted with fire” (Mark 9:49 ESV).
The second death begins on The Day of Judgment, His Coming in the Great and Terrible Day of Vengeance when the unsaved are cast into the Lake of Fire:
“The Son of Man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of His Kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth”
“And these shall go away to punishment age-during [eon – age, specified time span], but the righteous to life age-during” (Matthew 25:46).
“Do not marvel at this, for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have practiced evil to the resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:28-29).
At the resurrection of condemnation, the eyes of those who have practiced evil are opened to their sin and the process of judgment begins. The judgment doesn’t go on “forever” as men interpret the word. Rendered properly, “forever” means “until it is finished.” As long as there is something left to be consumed by the fire, the judgment continues. Once finished, death is vanquished for good, and the Prince of this world, the agent of death, no longer holds sway in any measure whatsoever.
“Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself [the Lord Jesus Christ] likewise partook of the same things, that through death He might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the Devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery” (Hebrews 2:14-15).
The fear of death is about more than losing physical life – it’s the fear of losing our lives in this world, the things we possess or that possess us. It’s about losing ourselves, as we see and think of ourselves. Monasteries, meditation, eastern religions promoting self-actualization and attainment of nirvana, good works, idolatries, perhaps especially vain professions of Christ, association and identification with movements and men of God, as Judas with Jesus and His disciples, for example, are among men’s vain attempts to deal with this fear of death, but Satan offers a more appealing way yet.
What if you could have all the benefits of what Christ accomplished on the cross without having to take up the cross yourself (dying to self)? This is the way of Satan and his “brand of Christianity.” It is the foundation for all of men’s “Christian” religious denominations and attempts to organize Heaven on earth. It is hell – darkness and dead works that lead to nothing but more death and destruction.
Those with faith in the Risen Lord Jesus Christ are called out of the midst of men’s works, also known as spiritual Babylon. The Book of Revelation depicts the journey of faith with spiritual imagery. It speaks of a dragon [Satan] that waits to devour the man-child, the new life of Christ in the one who believes. What does the dragon represent? A physical creature can’t destroy spiritual life. So what is of danger to a walk of faith? The dragon that waits to devour is the works of men:
“Concerning the works of men, by the Words of Your lips, I am kept from the paths of the destroyer” (Psalms 17:4).
And how do these serpentine works of men destroy? This brings us back to Satan’s offer of a way to circumvent the cross that crucifies us to the world, a way which allows us to believe we can be one with God while keeping our lives intact. Peter presented this way to Jesus:
(21) From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go off to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and to be killed, and to be raised the third day.
(22) And taking Him aside, Peter began to rebuke Him, saying, “God be gracious to You, Lord! This shall by no means happen to You!”
(23) But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block unto Me, because you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”
The greatest threat to the believer’s salvation is anything that derails from following the Lord into death to self. Men become religious, not to crucify the flesh, but to save it from crucifixion. Men prefer to maintain their own righteousness and independence. They substitute a form of Godliness that denies the power of true Godliness. If we choose to keep our lives in this world we will surely lose them:
“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:25-26)
This loss of one’s soul is the pain of the second death, which those who believe in Jesus Christ, from which those who yield their lives up to death by the cross are delivered.
“And they have conquered him [the dragon that waited to devour them] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death” (Revelation 12:11 ESV).
“‘O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?’ The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the Law. But thanks be to God Who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:55-57 MKJV).
Those who fall in unbelief will go into the Lake of Fire, through the second death. Faith without HIS works is dead, which is what James is talking about (2:20-26), and the Lord says here:
Matthew 7:21-23 MKJV
(21) Not everyone who says to Me, Lord! Lord! shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in Heaven.
(22) Many will say to Me in that day, Lord! Lord! Did we not prophesy in Your Name, and through Your Name throw out demons, and through Your Name do many wonderful works?
(23) And then I will say to them I never knew you! Depart from Me, those working lawlessness.
And where do they go?
“Every tree that does not bring forth good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Matthew 7:19MKJV).
“Then He also shall say to those on the left hand, Depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41 MKJV).
Revelation 3:16-18 MKJV
(16) So because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.
(17) Because you say, I am rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing, and do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked,
(18) I counsel you to buy from Me gold purified by fire, so that you may be rich; and white clothing, so that you may be clothed, and so that the shame of your nakedness does not appear. And anoint your eyes with eye salve, so that you may see.
It’s not enough to talk. There must be the walk. Faith without works is dead; it is taking the Lord’s Name in vain. Those who do this are not held guiltless. They are held accountable and brought into the judgment of the Lake of Fire, the second death.
“And as it is appointed to men once to die, but after this the judgment, so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many. And to those who look for Him He shall appear the second time without sin to salvation” (Hebrews 9:27-28 MKJV).
The Lord appears when we forsake self by confessing with fruits the Truth, which He is. Embracing and living by His judgment brings life.
“For if you live according to the flesh, you shall die. But if you through the Spirit mortify the deeds of the body, you shall live” (Romans 8:13 MKJV).
The Scriptures liken the way of man’s religion and pious waywardness of unbelief to a seductive harlot, warning us lest we become her victims:
Proverbs 7:24-27 MKJV
(24) And now listen to me, sons, and attend to the words of my mouth.
(25) Do not let your heart turn aside to her ways, do not go astray in her paths.
(26) For she has cast down many wounded; yea, many strong men have been slain by her.
(27) Her house is the way to hell, going down to the rooms of death.
Those following the wisdom of God aren’t slain. They don’t go into the depths of hell, to which those who go after the whore are given over. They will need to be processed in the Lake of Fire, the second death.
1 Corinthians 3:11-15
(11) For any other foundation can no one lay than the one being laid, Who is Jesus Christ.
(12) And if anyone builds on this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble,
(13) each one’s work shall be revealed. For the Day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try each one’s work as to what kind it is.
(14) If anyone’s work which he built remains, he shall receive a reward.
(15) If anyone’s work shall be burned up, he shall suffer loss. But he shall be saved, yet so as by fire.
The fire that destroys evil works saves evil workers.
The Lake of Fire is the Second Death. The Second Death is the Destruction of the First Death. It is death to death, the last enemy.
The fourth Scripture:
Revelation 21:5-8 MKJV
(5) And He sitting on the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And He said to me, Write, for these words are true and faithful.
(6) And He said to me, It is done. I am the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who thirsts I will give of the fountain of the Water of Life freely.
(7) He who overcomes will inherit all things, and I will be his God, and he will be My son.
(8) But the fearful, and the unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, will have their part in the Lake burning with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.
Fire and brimstone [sulphur – purifying agent] purge and purify the soul of slavery to self. Through this burning process, “the second death,” the soul is released to God, Who makes all things new. The man of sin, asserting independence from God beginning with Adam, is done away completely by the Last Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ, in the Lake of Fire:
“I have come to send fire on the earth [man]. And what will I do if it is already kindled?” (Luke 12:49)
That fire is the Word of God, which comes from His mouth:
“Let not anyone deceive you by any means. For that Day shall not come unless there first comes a falling away, and the man of sin shall be revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, setting himself forth, that he is God… whom the Lord shall consume with the breath of His mouth [His Word] and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4,8).
“Is not My Word like fire, declares the LORD, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces” (Jeremiah23:29 ESV).
Nothing can withstand the fire of God.
The Lord, through the flaming sword, guards the Tree of Life that was kept from Adam after he fell:
“And He drove out the man. And He placed cherubs at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the Tree of Life” (Genesis 3:24 MKJV).
But when men are turned to Christ, the way to the Tree of Life is opened and victory is at hand. The carnal man, the first Adam, must go through the flaming sword. He died once by partaking of the Tree of Knowledge, cast out of the garden, and now he must die a second time to re-enter Eden. Then there is no more pain of loss and death – there is only life with God:
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat of the Tree of Life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God…
“He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death…
“The one who overcomes, this one will be clothed in white clothing. And I will not blot out his name out of the Book of Life, but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels…
“Him who overcomes I will make him a pillar in the Temple of My God, and he will go out no more. And I will write upon him the Name of My God, and the Name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of Heaven from My God, and My New Name” (Revelation 2:7,11; 3:5,12).
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV).
Being delivered from sin and the first death isn’t enough – one must overcome to the end, which means vanquishing oneself – the independent sin nature.
“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision has any strength, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation” (Galatians 6:15 MKJV).
The apostle Paul found death plaguing him even after his conversion and baptism in the Spirit that delivered him from the first death:
(22) For I delight in the Law of God after the inward man:
(23) But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
(24) O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
(25) I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
Paul still needed to be delivered from himself, “the body of this death,” the independent man with his own mind and will separate from God. Salvation needed to be worked out and was by walking in the faith of the Son of God, coming through the baptism of fire.
“So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God Who is working in you, both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13).
This working out comes by taking up the cross and dying to self.
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me, and gave Himself for me” (Galatians2:20).
We are dead in our sins when Christ first comes for us and forgives us our debts, giving us the power to no longer sin. It remains for us to be crucified with Him in order to become fully dead to ourselves and the man of sin exerting his will in the place of God. The process is painful – it is the loss of everything, and resisting this loss is the hurt of the second death. Loss without hope is the sting of the second death.
“The sorrows of death hemmed me in, and the pains of hell took hold on me; I found trouble and sorrow” (Psalms 116:3).
The soul frets in unbelief, holding on to the illusion of possessing what it cannot and does not own.
“And I say this, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God, nor does corruption inherit incorruption” (1 Corinthians 15:50 MKJV).
There is no escape from the pain of the second death, except through taking up the cross and dying to self.
If we walk in faith and let go we cannot be hurt. There will be suffering and pain, but there will be no hurt, that is, no loss, failure, or defeat. And if we endure to the end, we can no longer stand to lose. Nothing can be taken from one who has nothing to lose. Then you are free, never to be enslaved again. You possess everything because you are one with God Who possesses all.
“For all things are yours, whether it is Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s” (1 Corinthians 3:21-23).
Once you have gone through the fires and have overcome, you will know in your soul that the end God has determined is good, and therefore all that transpires is good. There are no more tears or death. Made one with God, you are over the Lake of Fire. Love is Fire; the Fire of God is Love.
“And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire. And those who had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God” (Revelation 15:2 MKJV).
“And God will wipe away all tears from their eyes. And there will be no more death, nor mourning, nor crying out, nor will there be any more pain; for the first things passed away. And He sitting on the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And He said to me, Write, for these words are true and faithful” (Revelation 21:4-5).
After overcoming, no matter what happens, you win. You see that you never had anything to fear, because it all brought you to the place of victory and life. How can you lose when you possess unconquerable Life? What can hurt the one in Christ? All is God’s:
Romans 8:35-39 MKJV
(35) Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
(36) As it is written, “For Your sake we are killed all the day long. We are counted as sheep of slaughter.”
(37) But in all these things we more than conquer through Him Who loved us.
(38) For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
(39) nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Nothing can separate you from the love of God when you’re walking in the resurrection life that follows taking up the cross. That doesn’t mean there won’t be suffering, but it will be the victorious variety, up and out of the threatening grave, to the glory of God shared with His Body in Christ.
“Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, you also arm yourselves with the same mind, because he who suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the remaining time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.” (1 Peter 4:1-2 EMTV).
“For all things are for your sake… For this cause we do not faint; but though our outward man perishes, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:15-16).
The apostle Paul struggled within himself, endured to the end, and overcame. He wrote to encourage others to keep going because the Lord would save them as well through perseverance in faith. Only those who do not believe are hurt.
“For indeed we have had Good News preached to us, even as they also did, but the Word they heard didn’t profit them, because it wasn’t mixed with faith by those who heard” (Hebrews 4:2 HNV).
Those who don’t believe will lose, until the second death has served its purpose and brought them to saving faith, destroying those manifestations of death such as loss, defeat, sorrow, unrest, and failure.
“Behold, is it not of the LORD of hosts that the people shall labour in the very fire, and the people shall weary themselves for very vanity? For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:13-14 KJV).
“As the waters cover the sea”? That’s quite inclusive and all-encompassing, isn’t it? Can it get any more complete?
All things indeed are working together for good.
“And He will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering which covers all people, and the veil that is woven over all nations. He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces. And He shall take away from all the earth the rebuke of His people. For the LORD has spoken” (Isaiah 25:7-8).
The pilgrimage to God begins with repentance. Those who go on to receive the baptism in the Spirit are also baptized with fire. The fire of God is necessary to purge men of themselves, the man of sin. Through the Spirit of Christ within, by His Faith and Power, those who believe endure the death of the cross and are raised to life imperishable, freed from the usurper and Prince of this World, Satan.
But if we don’t believe, choosing the ways of man (the destroyer – pain inflicter) to keep our lives in this world, then we will be hurt by the second death, which is still the process of deliverance from death and hell, the Lake of Fire serving to that end. The Lake of Fire does what we cannot – it brings the needed correction to others.
“But the fearful, and the unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, will have their part in the Lake burning with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8 MKJV).
The preaching of the Gospel of Christ is not in vain.
“For to this end the Gospel was preached also to the dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the Spirit” (1 Peter 4:6 MKJV).
Isaiah 55:8-11 MKJV
(8) For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor your ways My ways, says the LORD.
(9) For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.
(10) For as the rain comes down, and the snow from the heavens, and does not return there, but waters the earth, and makes it bring out and bud, and give seed to the sower and bread to the eater;
(11) so shall My Word be, which goes out of My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall certainly do what I sent it to do.
In death, there can be and is a consciousness, such as in sleep – we dream, we process thoughts, we hear from God. In the next world, the dead hear the Voice of the Lord by those in whom He dwells and are raised up from the dead to relate to and fellowship with God. The blood of His Son cleanses away all sin.
God does not leave people in sin forever, or uncompleted in His image. Just as the first death has had its way, so will the second death have its way to completion. After the second death, there is no more death.
Jude 1:5-13 MKJV
(5) But I intend to remind you, you once knowing these things, that the Lord having delivered a people out of the land of Egypt, in the second place destroyed the ones not believing.
(6) And those angels not having kept their first place, but having deserted their dwelling-place, He has kept in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of a great Day;
(7) as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them, in like manner to these, committing fornication, and going away after other flesh, laid down an example before-times, undergoing vengeance of everlasting [age-lasting, aeonian] fire.
(8) Likewise, indeed, also these dreaming ones even defile flesh, and despise rulership, and speak evil of glories [dignities, authorities].
(HNV) (8) Yet in like manner these also in their dreaming defile the flesh, despise authority, and slander celestial beings.
(ISV) (8) In a similar way, these dreamers also defile their flesh, reject the Lord’s authority, and slander His glorious beings.
(KJV) (8) Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.
(9) But Michael, the archangel, when contending with the Devil, he argued about the body of Moses, he dared not bring a judgment of blasphemy, but said, Let the Lord rebuke you!
(10) But what things they do not know, they speak evil of. And what things they understand naturally, like the animals without reason, they are corrupted by these.
(11) Woe to them! For they went the way of Cain, and gave themselves up to the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Korah.
(12) These are sunken rocks in your love feasts, feasting together with you; feeding themselves without fear; waterless clouds being carried about by winds; fruitless autumn trees, having died twice, having been plucked up by the roots;(13) wild waves of the sea foaming up their shames; wandering stars for whom blackness of darkness has been kept forever.
Having died twice. Delivered from the first death, then returning to it as though the Life they tasted was “a thing of nought.”
To be blotted out of the Book of Life is to become twice dead (this is not a reference to the second death); it is to return to the first death. While interceding for Israel, Moses made this request of God:
Exodus 32:31-33 MKJV
(31) And Moses returned to the LORD, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made themselves gods of gold.
(32) And now will You forgive their sin! And if not, I pray You, blot me out of Your book which You have written.
(33) And the LORD said to Moses, Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book.
To be established permanently in the Book of Life, that is, to be One with the Lord, never to part with Him Who IS Life, we must overcome. Only in overcoming will we not be blotted out of the Book of Life according to these words:
“The one who overcomes, this one will be clothed in white clothing. And I will not blot out his name out of the Book of Life, but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels” (Revelation 3:5 MKJV).
Those whose names aren’t in the Book of Life of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, are still in the first death, the death we are all born into by our physical birth. These worship the prince of this world, the power of this realm, this world, and his manifestation in beastly nature:
Revelation 13:1-8 MKJV
(1) And I stood on the sand of the sea, and I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns. And on its horns were ten crowns, and on its heads was the name of blasphemy.
(2) And the beast which I saw was like a leopard, and its feet like those of a bear, and its mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him its power and its seat and great authority.
(3) And I saw one of its heads as having been slain to death, and its deadly wound was healed. And all the earth marveled after the beast.
(4) And they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast. And they worshiped the beast, saying, Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with it?
(5) And a mouth speaking great things was given to it, and blasphemies. And authority was given to it to continue forty-two months.
(6) And it opened its mouth in blasphemy toward God, to blaspheme His Name and His tabernacle, and those dwelling in Heaven.
(7) And it was given to it to war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given to it over every tribe and tongue and nation.
(8) And all dwelling on the earth will worship it, those whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain, from the foundation of the world.
Revelation 17 speaks of the harlot church. It speaks of the dwellers or inhabitants of the earth, those in the flesh whose names are not in the Book of Life, as marveling at the beast that comes to destroy the harlot, the body of the vain worshipers of the Lord Jesus Christ:
Revelation 17:15-18 MKJV
(15) And he says to me, The waters which you saw, where the harlot sits are peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues,
(16) and the ten horns which you saw on the beast, these will hate the harlot and will make her desolate and naked. And they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire.
(17) For God gave into their hearts to do His mind, and to act with one mind, and to give their kingdom to the beast until the Words of God will be fulfilled.
(18) And the woman whom you saw is the great city which has a kingdom over the kings of the earth.
That beast is Islam. Islam, representing a corrupt man posing as the “last messenger” from God, the epitome of the flesh in all its terribleness, personifies the beastly nature of the prince of this world in force. As such, not only does Islam make war with the carnal Christian, whose name isn’t in the Book of Life, contrary to appearances, but also with the Lamb and the spiritual, or real Christian, the saint. However, the Scriptures here declare that the Lamb of God will overcome the beast:
“These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them. For He is Lord of lords and King of kings. And those with Him are the called and elect and faithful ones” (Revelation 17:14 MKJV).
How is it the beast makes war with both true and false Christians? Does Islam care whether one truly loves the Lord or not? No, not at all, but God cares, and He is the One Who puts it in the heart of Islam to destroy all falsehood. Islam has no power to destroy the true saints of God or to do them harm in any way. To be sure, they will feel the heat, but they will survive and come forth as gold. Not a hair on their heads will perish – so says the Lord.
Gold has impurities, yet it isn’t only the impurities that go into the fire. All goes into the furnace but the gold comes forth for the better while the dross is burned off, never to be seen again. This allegory speaks not only of people separated as tares and wheat, or as goats and sheep, it speaks also of that inner purification wherein the “first Christian,” the earthy man of sin, must make way for the second Christian, the spiritual man. Flesh is overcome and spirit takes over to reign forever.
But Jesus Christ is the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and the Omega, He and not the Lake of Fire or death or hell. His Resurrection from the dead ends all debate and conjecture for those who believe, and by the Power of His Resurrection Life, all will one day believe. Is it not written that man cannot count the number of those who believe?
Revelation 7:9-17 MKJV
(9) After these things I looked, and lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, out of all nations and kindreds and people and tongues, stood before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palms in their hands.
(10) And they cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God sitting on the throne, and to the Lamb.
(11) And all the angels stood around the throne, and the elders, and the four living creatures, and they fell before the throne on their faces and worshiped God,
(12) saying, Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever. Amen.
(13) And one of the elders answered, saying to me, Who are these who are arrayed in white robes, and from where do they come?
(14) And I said to him, Sir, you know. And he said to me, These are the ones who came out of the great tribulation and have washed their robes, and have whitened them in the blood of the Lamb [they have come through the fires].(15) Therefore they are before the throne of God, and they serve Him day and night in His temple. And He sitting on the throne will dwell among them.
(16) They will not hunger any more, nor thirst any more, nor will the sun light on them, nor any heat.
(17) For the Lamb Who is in the midst of the throne will feed them and will lead them to the fountains of living waters. And God will wipe away all tears from their eyes.
“He who testifies these things says, Yes, I am coming quickly, Amen. Yes, come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all of you. Amen” (Revelation 22:20-21 MKJV).
Several important questions are raised and answered: What is the purpose of the Lake of Fire? What is the second death? And how does one who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ enter the Kingdom of God?