50. A person with a totally-hardened heart is Dead, even if they are breathing.

For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. {1 Thessalonians 5:9-10}

If God is the only Source of Life in the universe, then whether or not we are alive is a matter of whether or not we’re connected to Him, the Source. If we’re connected to Him, we’re alive. If we’re not connected to Him, we’re not alive.

What this means is that true life — capital-L Life — is not about whether we’re breathing or not. It’s about whether we’re connected to God or not. And, as we explored in the previous section, the only thing that can separate us from God is if we stubbornly persist in rebellion to the point that our hardened heart becomes incapable of participating in a relationship with Him. At that point, maintaining a connection to Life is no longer possible. Thus, a person with a totally-hardened heart is Dead, even if they are still breathing.

Satan is the perfect example of this. He is still “breathing,” or whatever it is that angels do. Yet the Bible says to beware of him because he has come down to the earth with great fury, knowing that his time is short. After Jesus demonstrated the truth about Death on the cross, Satan could see that his rebellion was going to end in Death. He is no longer capable of maintaining a connection to the only Source of Life in the universe; thus, when the time comes, he and all those who have also separated themselves from God will die. Until then, since his existence has been prolonged because of the ongoing war in God’s universe, he is using the time he has left to wreak as much havoc as possible on God’s creation.

There is a flip-side to this truth. If a person with a totally-hardened heart is dead, even if they are breathing, then that also means that a person who is not separated from God in their hearts is alive, even if they are not currently breathing! Jesus may have referred to the first death as a sleep, and that it is, but it doesn’t mean that all those who are sleeping are not still alive.

As John put it in his first epistle, “Whoever has the Son has life. Whoever doesn’t have the Son doesn’t have life.” It is just as simple as that. True life is not about whether you’re breathing or not. If a person is connected to God, he has capital-L Life. If a person is separated from God, he is capital-D Dead. The ability to talk and walk around and do deeds good or bad cannot tell us who is in which category!

If you want to dig deeper—
Deuteronomy 30:19-20
Ecclesiastes 5:15-16
Ecclesiastes 8:8
Ezekiel 18:21
Matthew 22:31-32
Luke 23:43
John 3:36
John 5:24
Acts 17:25-28
Romans 8:6, 13
Romans 14:8-9
Ephesians 4:18
2 Peter 2:4-9
1 John 5:12