In the manifestation of divine justice God said to Adam: “Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat; ... for in the day that thou eatest thereof, dying thou shalt die”. (Genesis 2:17, margin) This sentence was pronounced against man, the being, the soul. If there could be any doubt about this, it is definitely settled by another statement in the Bible which reads: “The soul that sinneth it shall die”. (Ezekiel 18:4) “What man is he that liveth, and shall not see death? shall he deliver his soul from the hand of the grave?”—Psalm 89:48.
The thought of immortal souls originated with Satan the devil. He approached mother Eve and said: ’If you eat of this tree, you shall not surely die’. Jesus denounced this statement as the first lie ever told, and Satan as the father of lies. (John 8:44) Satan has been trying to blind the people to the truth concerning God’s great plan in order to keep them away from God and from the blessings they would receive by obeying him. The Apostle says of him that he is “the god [mighty one] of this world”, meaning the present evil social order; and that he has blinded the minds of men to the truth, lest the glorious gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ should shine into their hearts. (2 Corinthians 4:4) From the day of Eden until now Satan has been blinding the minds of men to the truth by getting into their minds a false conception of Jehovah’s arrangement; and the basis for this blindness is chiefly the lie first told: “Ye shall not surely die”. All false doctrines are based upon this first lie.
If man possessed an immortal soul it could not be put to death. Hence we see that God would be unable to enforce his judgment against a sinner, and justice would fail. The Scriptures, however, plainly tell us that the quality of immortality belongs originally only to Jehovah, “who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see”. (1 Timothy 6:16) Immortality will be given as a great reward to faithful Christians and to none other of the human race. Such Christians who live and continue faithful until death are promised the divine nature, immortality, the crown of life. (2 Peter 1:4; 1 Peter 1:3,4; Romans 2:7; Revelation 2:10) We may be sure that a man does not seek that which he already possesses; and the apostle Paul plainly says: “Seek for ... immortality”. And again he says to those who will be faithful Christians: “This mortal must put on immortality”. (1 Corinthians 15:53) If a soul, a man, were already immortal, he could not subsequently put on immortality. No one of the human race will ever be made immortal except the faithful Christians. God has a different reward for others who are obedient to him.
Another of Satan’s deceptions by which he has blinded the people is the teaching that the dead are still conscious after death. This is not supported by the Bible, however. Those who die are never again conscious unless they are resurrected by the Lord. The resurrection of the dead we will discuss later on. If the soul were immortal it would be conscious somewhere. Let us observe the Scriptures which show that the dead are not conscious.