Please give in the Gospel Advocate your understanding of the condition of Adam before his fall. In other words, was he immortal before he violated his Maker? Did he lose both temporal and spiritual life? If so, did not the Savior die, not only a temporal, but a spiritual, death, to consummate the at-one-ment for the human family? I have my ideas of this question, resulting from a careful study of the Bible. A brother and myself, differing to some extent about it, agreed to refer to you for the sum of your investigations, thinking you might assist us and perhaps others occupying similar positions. My position is, in short, that he was subject to mortality even in Eden, but the fruit of the tree of life could, and did, perpetuate his life, counteracting his tendency to mortality. What say you?
These questions are so near the border line of speculations that have a tendency to draw men’s minds from the more practical requirements of religion, that we answer them cautiously. Some things, we think, are revealed about the death of Adam. These we try to answer. The death that Adam died clearly was that he became mortal.
Mortality is death. Death is suffering, decay, corruption. What we call “death” is the final result of a state of death that we are undergoing here. The biblical use of the term immortality is not eternal existence merely, but the opposite of mortality — freedom from suffering, decay, corruption. This corruptible must put on incorruption; this mortal, immortality; so death (our present state) will be swallowed up in victory. Man was without corruption, or mortality, before he sinned. Whether he was kept so by eating the fruit of the tree of life or whether it was inherent in him, we have no means of determining. The cutting off from the tree of life corresponded in time with his becoming mortal, or entering into the state of death. It is probably a legitimate inference that the continuance to partake of the tree of life would have perpetuated existence. Man became physically a dying being. He sinned. To sin is to separate from God, is to unite with the devil. This is to breathe the atmosphere of death, is to drink in the life of the evil one. His life becomes our life. The life of the evil one is a living death. Deliverance from the service of the evil one is life, is union with God. Whether it required the spiritual death of Christ, or how far he suffered or died spiritually or in his divine nature, we have no means of determining; so anything we might say would be unprofitable speculation in things not revealed. We only know he did not die as a spiritual being, in the sense of sinning against God, and being united to the evil one. How a being can spiritually die without separation from God and union with the evil one, we know not. Christ’s death opened the way for our escape from union with the evil one for a reunion with God. The devil is the ruler of this world. Its atmosphere is impregnated with a spirit of rebellion against God. We imbibe the spirit of rebellion. Christ died to deliver men from this evil influence. He calls him into his church, in which a different atmosphere prevails, so man may breathe a different spirit. Finally this church will repossess this world. The atmosphere will be purged of the spirit of sin, with which it is surcharged, and men will cease to breathe the rebellious spirit and will be less in love with sin.