The Second Death
The Second Death And The Overcomer
(This is taken from the article Freedom In Christ and the Bible study Holding Fast To The Lord.)
(This is taken from the Bible study Holding Fast To The Lord.)
Jude 1:11-13 – See the note below.
11 Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.
12 These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted;
13 wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever.
The Balaam’s of our day are hidden reefs that shipwreck many believer’s faith in Christ. Jude says that, besides having no fear of God, being self-absorbed, dry in spirit, and carried here and there by varying winds (of doctrine), that they are “doubly [twice] dead, uprooted.” An unbeliever cannot be twice dead. Neither can they be uprooted unless they were first rooted in Christ, “the Root of David” (Rev. 5:5).
The Bible declares that before a person turns to the Lord they are dead in their sins and trespasses (Ephesians 2:1, 5; Colossians 2:13). Jude, on the other hand, is referring to someone who came alive in Christ and then fell away from Him, becoming dead again. Their last state of being “doubly dead” is worse than if they had never turned to Christ (2 Peter 2:20-22).
(The rest of this is from the article Freedom In Christ.)
The Second Death
In one of the letters written to the seven churches in Revelation, Jesus warned the church in Smyrna of what they were about to go through. He said to them;
“Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.”
After warning them of their coming persecution, Jesus then says that if they overcome by being faithful, even when faced with death, that they “will not be hurt at all by the second death.” There are two questions that come to mind here; “What is the second death?” and “What is an overcomer?” Since the Bible is in and of itself its best commentary, let’s look at some Scripture passages.
In Revelation, chapter twenty, John says that he saw an angel come down from heaven who threw Satan into the abyss and bound him for a thousand years. He then saw thrones where judgment was taking place. He also saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and the word of God. Because they had not worshipped the beast or received his mark, they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years (Revelation 20:1-4).
John then writes;
“The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.”
There is an old saying; “Born once, die twice. Born twice, die once.” To die on earth in Christ, having been born again, is to partake of the first resurrection. For these saints the second death has no power. But we still have not read exactly what the second death is.
John says that when the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison and will once again deceive the nations. He will gather them together to go fight against the saints. It’s described as a very short campaign. Fire comes down from heaven and devours them. It is at this point that the devil is thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and false prophet are also (Revelation 20:7-10).
John then saw God on a great white throne where the dead were being judged. Books were being opened, including the book of life, and they were being judged from the things which were written in them, “according to their works” (Revelation 20:11-13). He then declares;
“Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”
And there it is; “the second death is the lake of fire.” Possibly to reinforce what it is, John repeats the identity of the second death as well as the “overcomer” who not will partake of it a few verses later;
“He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
May the fear of the Lord overwhelm our hearts in order to move us quickly under His wings of protection while His invitation to draw near through repentance is still offered.
The Overcomer; Potential versus Being
One of the definitions for potential is, “having or showing the capacity to become or develop into something in the future.” According to the Collins English Dictionary;
“If you say that someone or something has potential, you mean that they have the necessary abilities or qualities to become successful or useful in the future… If you say that someone or something has potential for doing a particular thing, you mean that it is possible they may do it.”
Having the potential to become something does not mean that you automatically develop into that something. You can have the potential to become many things in life, but never develop into that which was possible. For example, a man or woman could have been born with incredible athletic or musical abilities but that does not mean that they will excel in either. If they lack the qualities necessary to be successful in their area of possibility they will most likely never become what they could have been.
Peter tells us that God’s Divine power has given us everything we need (i.e. the potential) in regards to life and godliness through the “true knowledge”, or truth of Christ that, when applied, causes us to become partakers of the Divine nature. A follower of Christ has been given the potential, or the right to become the sons of God [see John 1:12 in the Bible study Freedom In Christ] which is the right of access to the power of the Holy Spirit. This privilege, this potential in Christ is a right that can be denied, though, through rebellion and disobedience.
Peter then gives us a list of qualities that, when becoming ours in increasing measure, will keep us from being ineffective and unfruitful in the knowledge of Christ. These qualities are the potential that we have to be an overcomer in Christ, thereby qualifying us to receive the crown of life.
Peter continues, saying;
“For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent [“to hasten, to exert oneself”] to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.”
(2 Peter 1:9-11/NASU)
Potential alone, which are the promises alone, are not enough to have the entrance into eternal life in Christ “abundantly supplied” to you and I (see the Bible study Noah; A Sign Of The End for more on entering in). It is only through our diligence in putting these qualities into practice, working together with the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 6:1), that we will never stumble, and fall away from Christ.
Not only will we never stumble but it is the only way that we will be qualified to reign and rule with Christ in the coming age. Jesus said to the church in Thyatira;
“To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations— ‘He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery’— just as I have received authority from my Father.”
The key to receiving the authority of Christ over the nations is in becoming an overcomer who does His will, “to the end.” In the same manner, the key to Jesus’ authority while on earth was His submission to the Father’s will.
In His message written to the church in Sardis, the Lord warned them to wake up and strengthen the things that were about to die. They had not yet completed their works (see my book Works And Salvation). The Lord then told them to remember what they had received and to repent or they would not know at what time He would come to them. Many today within the church are in the same state of spiritual blindness. There were some who were considered to be worthy because they had not “soiled their clothes,” symbolizing their walk of purity with the Lord. They had not stained their garment of salvation.
Jesus then declared to them;
“He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
This is an extremely serious statement that many have, unfortunately, erased from their book of truth. By not persevering in Christ, doing His will to the end so as to become an overcomer, they had caused some heavenly ink written in their name to disappear (see Chapter Twenty Two, Disappearing Ink, in my book The Resurrected Bride).
May we be encouraged to keep the faith, persevering in obedience to Christ so as not to shrink back in shame at His return which, I believe, is very close (see the Bible study The Word Of My Perseverance). Knowing the time is late, even the midnight hour, the Lord would encourage all of us to remain near Him, saying;
“Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown. He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on 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. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Acting Wickedly Toward The Covenant
We read earlier in Revelation 2:10-11 that “He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.” The Greek for “hurt” is adikeo (ad-ee-keh'-o) which means “to hurt, damage, harm.” It’s also defined as “to act unjustly or wickedly, to sin; to wrong someone, to act wickedly toward him.” Interestingly, in the book of Daniel which goes hand-in-hand with Revelation in regards to prophesying about the last day events, he mentions certain people who “act wickedly toward the covenant” (Daniel 11:32/NASU).
In a very detailed account revealed to Daniel regarding future conflicts on earth, he is told of a continuous struggle that lasts for a period of years between a certain king of the North and a king of the South. At one point these two kings whose hearts, he says, are bent on evil will sit down together at a table and lie to each other. This sounds very similar to all of our modern day peace agreements which are always broken. They will never bring peace on earth because only Jesus Christ can and will eventually do that.
Daniel is then told the following scenario that will take place between these two kings;
“Then he [the king of the North] will return to his land with much plunder; but his heart will be set against the holy covenant, and he will take action and then return to his own land. At the appointed time he will return and come into the South, but this last time it will not turn out the way it did before. For ships of Kittim will come against him; therefore he will be disheartened and will return and become enraged at the holy covenant and take action; so he will come back and show regard [“respect, favor”] for those who forsake the holy covenant. Forces from him will arise, desecrate the sanctuary fortress, and do away with the regular sacrifice. And they will set up the abomination of desolation. By smooth words [“flattery, fine promises”] he will turn to godlessness those who act wickedly toward the covenant, but the people who know their God will display strength [“to fasten upon, to be strong, to be firm, to be courageous, to conquer”] and take action.”
The Hebrew for “forsake” is `azab (aw-zab'). It is defined as “to leave, to loose, to forsake, to let go, to depart from, to apostatize.” Those who “forsake the holy covenant” are those who through negligence in their Christian walks have loosed themselves from Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. (See the notes for Jeremiah 17:4 and Romans 1:28 in the Bible study Binding And Loosing regarding letting go and loosing.) That which through rebellion and disobedience has been loosed on earth is then loosed in heaven. The great falling away from the faith right before the return of Christ that Paul prophesied of will be by those who “forsake the holy covenant” in Christ.
The smooth words (flattery) of this king that he will use to “turn to godlessness those who act wickedly toward the covenant” are the same man-pleasing, demonic methodology of the “ear-tickling” preachers Paul referred to in his letter to Timothy;
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled [“desirous of hearing something pleasant”], they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.”
(2 Timothy 4:3-4/NASU)
In his letter to the Romans, Paul would once again warn the church of these smooth-talking deceivers that would surely show up in their midst, just as they have today in the church;
“I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.”
This is nothing new among God’s people. His indictment of the Israelites in Isaiah who were rebellious against Him included their desire for smooth words;
“For this is a rebellious people, false sons, sons who refuse to listen to the instruction of the Lord; Who say to the seers, ‘You must not see visions’; and to the prophets, ‘You must not prophesy to us what is right, speak to us pleasant words [“smoothness, flattery”], prophesy illusions.’”
The Hebrew for “act wickedly” in Daniel, chapter eleven, is rasha‘ which means “to be wicked, act wickedly.” According to Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words;
“This verb is derived from the noun rasa‘. There is a similar root in Ethiopic and Arabic, with the respective meanings “to forget” and “to be loose.” This verb appears in 2 Chronicles 6:37: “Yet if they bethink themselves in the land whither they are carried captive, and turn and pray unto thee in the land of their captivity, saying, We have sinned, we have done amiss, and have dealt wickedly.”
This is the second definition within the Hebrew words in this passage in Daniel that refers to being loosed. From this we can see that those who can be swayed with smooth words, in particular during the great falling away from Christ at the end of this age, will be those who have acted wickedly toward their covenant with Christ. They have “hurt” their relationship with Christ by turning away from Him and will therefore be “hurt” by the second death. False doctrines have led them to falsely believe, in presumption, that they are secure even when walking in rebellion against Christ. Covenant breaking is still a serious offence.
In contrast, “the people who know their God will display strength [“to fasten upon, to be strong, to be firm, to be courageous, to conquer”] and take action.” They are the conquerors, the overcomers in Christ who will do great and mighty acts in the last days. The King James Version says; “but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.” These are the “doers” of God’s word who will “take action” in the end and do great exploits.
To know God is “to perceive, to know by experience, to confess, to acknowledge.” As we learned earlier through Romans 1:28, those who suppressed the truth in unrighteousness, who knew God but did not honor Him as God in their life and had exchanged His glory and truth for a lie, were then given over to a depraved mind to do that which was sinful in God’s eyes. Paul said this took place because “they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God,” or “to acknowledge God any longer.” Remember, to acknowledge in this passage is “to have, to hold fast, keep, own, possess.” To be given over is “to be given into the hands, or power, of another.” Because they did not think it worthwhile to keep God in their lives through a diligent walk of obedience to His commands, they, like those in Daniel, chose to “act wickedly toward the covenant” thereby loosing themselves from their inheritance in Him (Jeremiah 17:4). By letting go of Christ and not repenting they were given into the power and control of Satan.
By their actions they have denied Jesus Christ from being their Lord (Titus 1:16). Because they did not confess Him before mankind through an exchanged life that they were given access to, revealing themselves as an overcomer, they were overcome by the spirit of antichrist (1 John 4:1-3).
The Power Of God And The Abilities Of Man
In the parable of the talents, Jesus spoke to His disciples about a man who was about to go on a long journey. He said;
“For it [the Kingdom of Heaven] is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey.”
This man, referred to as the master, had entrusted what he owned to his slaves. Jesus said he gave to each of them according to their own ability. When he returned, they would be required to give an account of what they had been given to take care of. There are a couple of words to define in this passage that stood out to me.
The first word is the Greek for “entrusted” which is paradidomi (par-ad-id'-o-mee). According to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, it’s defined as “to give over into (one's) power or use; to deliver to one something to keep, use, take care of, manage.” The second Greek word is dunamis (doo'-nam-is) which is interpreted as “ability.” It just happens to be taken from dunamai (doo'-nam-ahee) which is the Greek interpreted in Acts 20:32 as “can”, or “is able” (see the section The Word Of God’s Grace in the article Freedom In Christ). Dunamis is described as “force, strength, ability, power.” Through these words, I believe that Jesus is saying He has entrusted to each one of His servants abilities that, when combined with His available power, empower us to fulfill our God-given purpose and call. It’s not by human might or power but by His Spirit that we are able to do His will and become a “good and faithful servant.”
Within the rest of the parable Jesus shows us that it is these abilities given to us by Him that every Christian will give an account of. We will not be held accountable for what others have been given, but only for our usage of the abilities that we have received from Him.
The Bible tells us the first two servants took what they had received and gained more. Their master then said to them, “Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” (Matthew 25:19-23)
The third servant, Jesus said, dug a hole and hid his master’s talents in it. When it was his turn to explain what he had done with His master’s possessions entrusted to him the response was not in the least bit favorable. Jesus said;
“Then the man who had received the one talent came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’ His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw that worthless [“useless, unprofitable, good for nothing”] servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’”
Obviously, Jesus is referring to Himself in this parable. While He has been gone, He has entrusted His servants with His possessions. This parable should cause all Christ followers to take a serious look at our lives to determine what kind of servant we are.
To obediently work together with the Holy Spirit who gives us the strength to do what we have been called to do is to also be granted great authority in the age to come, and to enter into “the joy of your Master.” The writer of Hebrews refers to this joy, saying;
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
Jesus, who in this parable is referring to His followers, said the wicked, lazy servant who did nothing with that which he was entrusted with had it taken away from him and given to the one with many talents. As if this wasn’t enough, the “worthless slave” was then cast out into the outer darkness, “where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” This same place of terrible suffering is described multiple times by Jesus (Matthew 8:12; 13:42, 50; 22:13). One of them is similar to the passage we have been looking at.
The disciples had asked Jesus about His return and the end of the age. During His discussion with them He again spoke of the faithful and wise servant and the wicked servant. Because the servant was faithful in giving food at the “proper time” to those with whom he had been given charge of, Jesus said;
“I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions.”
The wicked servant who was not so attentive to his Christian walk, Jesus said, was not so fortunate;
“But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
We dare not miss what Jesus warned His disciples of in these two passages. In the first one He clearly states that if His servants do nothing with what He has given them, that even what they have will be taken away and they will be cast out from His presence into a horrific place. The second is even more alarming. Jesus said that not only will the wicked servant be assigned a place with the hypocrites where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, but that they will be cut in pieces! This should place the fear of the Lord to keep our wandering hearts in check.
Where is the doctrine of eternal security in this!? All that doctrine of demons has done in the Body of Christ is to produce a whole lot of unprepared servants of Jesus who, with a false sense of security, will shrink back in shame at His coming.
Interestingly enough, according to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, one of the definitions for the Greek word we interpret in English as “wicked” in Matthew, chapter 25 where Jesus describes the lazy servant of Jesus is “hurtful.” This is another description of those in the Body of Christ who have “acted wickedly toward the covenant” and will be hurt by the second death.