by Randy Clark in General

myths about death

Your friend or loved one has died. What happened to them when they died? Where are they now? What’s next for them? Is it possible you have believed one of the many myths about death?

There are many ideas about what happens after death. Some myths are a result of people wanting something to be true even though they have no evidence it is true. Other myths are a result of confusion or traditions passed down from generation to generation. People have a variety of beliefs about life after death as shown here.

I want to address five of them in this post. There are more than five myths about death, but these are some of the most common. My goal is to help bring understanding and clarity to your mind. I base what I believe on the revelation from God found in the Bible. His revelation makes the most sense because His revelation is absolute truth. So here we go:

Myth #1 – Christians turn into angels when they die

This has been a common misunderstanding for a long time. Movies and television shows have been made with this false doctrine as the theme. Writers create storylines about a good person who dies and has to come back to earth and do some good deeds or help someone in particular to earn their angel wings. Sometimes grief-stricken loved ones try to explain an unexpected death by saying, “Heaven needed another angel.”  Songs have even been written with the same false message.

Where did this idea come from? It certainly didn’t come from God. God created angels. God created the angels before He created humans. He doesn’t need any more angels. If He did, He would just create more. He is not lacking for anything.

There is one scripture in the Bible that is sometimes misinterpreted concerning angels and humans. Let me give you the background of the story. Some religious leaders came to Jesus one day and presented Him with this hypothetical situation. 

A woman marries a man and he dies before they have any children. Their custom in that day was for the woman to then marry her deceased husband’s brother and have children with him. But he also died before they had children. The religious leaders wanted to know, if this happened seven times, and she ended up marrying seven brothers who all died, whose wife would she be in Heaven after the resurrection. Here is Jesus’ answer:

Jesus replied, “Your mistake is that you don’t know the Scriptures, and you don’t know the power of God. For when the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage. In this respect they will be like the angels in Heaven. (Matthew 22:29–30)(NLT)

The answer was simple. We don’t have romantic unions in the resurrection. God is everybody’s Father and believers are all brothers and sisters in Heaven. Nobody gets married in Heaven and nobody functions as husband and wife based on their earthly existence.

Jesus said our resurrection life is similar to the angel’s existence in this way. Angels don’t fall in love and get married. Angels in Heaven aren’t husbands or wives. Jesus simply said the woman won’t have a husband in Heaven. He didn’t say believers would turn into angels.

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Myth #2 – People are reincarnated and live another life on earth

This myth is based on a false belief that after we die, we get another chance to live a new life as a different person or even an animal. The next life is supposedly based on how you lived the last life. If you lived well, you would move up into a better life in your next reincarnation. If you lived a bad life, you would come back at a lower level or even as an animal.

This is one of the myths about death because we only get one life on earth. We need to make the best of it, because it’s the only chance we get. And we only get one physical death.

And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment, so also Christ was offered once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:27–28)(NLT)

When we die, we only have two possible destinations for our spirit to go. One is called Hades, a temporary place of torment where unsaved people await the final Great White Throne Judgment. The other is Heaven, a place of joy and peace in the presence of Almighty God.

For a Christian, a person whose faith is in Jesus for salvation, death is a blessing. It is an immediate departure from their physical body to go directly into Heaven, their new home, and into the presence of God.

So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. For we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:6–8)(NLT)

Myth #3 – Good deeds vs. sins determines your final destination

This is probably the most common of the myths about death. Many people believe that a person either earns their way into Heaven or earns their way into Hell. This is the most common because people perceive it as the fairest way to settle the issue.

They imagine it as if Jesus stands at the gates of Heaven with a giant scale. On one side He places all our sins. On the other side He places all our good deeds. If we have one ounce more of good deeds than sins, we slide into Heaven. If not, we are cast into Hell forever. It sounds fair, but it is a myth.

ONE sin is enough to keep any of us out of Heaven forever! One sin produces spiritual death, or separation from God.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)(NLT)

People commonly will stand at the casket of a relative or friend and think, “She lived a good life.” “I’m sure she’s in Heaven now.” ”She earned it!”

Well, none of us can earn our way into Heaven. We can only find eternal salvation by the grace of God. It is a gift. One reason this is one of the myths about death is that a gift can only be received or rejected.

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (Ephesians 2:8–10)(NLT)

We should certainly live a good life and do good deeds. But we do those things BECAUSE we are saved and love God, not to attempt to earn our salvation.

Myth #4 – We go to a temporary holding place to purify our souls

This myth states that some go to a holding place of torment and introspection until they have been totally cleansed of sins which have not been dealt with properly during their life on earth.

To believe this myth you must ignore the reason Jesus died and shed His blood on the cross over 2,000 years ago. God came into this world as a human being so He could pay the penalty for sin for God’s creation. Everybody sins. So everybody is guilty of sin and deserving of spiritual death, a complete and final separation from God.

Jesus’ blood was the holy, sinless blood of God. He shed His blood once to pay for every sin that has or will ever be committed. ONE SACRIFICE took care of it all. Jesus did what we could never do.

So Christ has now become the High Priest over all the good things that have come. He has entered that greater, more perfect Tabernacle in heaven, which was not made by human hands and is not part of this created world. With his own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever. (Hebrews 9:11–12)(NLT)

We can’t pay for our own sin. We can’t cleanse ourselves. Jesus made it possible for us to be totally and completely cleansed of our sins. We do that by putting our complete reliance on Jesus for our salvation instead of our own efforts.

One reason this is one of the myths about death is that some folks are confused by the scripture below. This describes a time when God will reward Christian believers for the good things they have done in their lives. Doing good things doesn’t earn us entrance into Heaven because salvation is a gift as discussed earlier. However, Christians will be rewarded when their actions are judged during this event.

Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames. (1 Corinthians 3:12–15)(NLT)

Worthless deeds will burn up like wood and hay. But things we have done in obedience to God and deeds done to help others and advance God’s kingdom will survive the fire and we will receive a reward. This scripture has nothing to do with a purifying time between death and entrance into Heaven.

Myth #5 – Nobody knows for sure what happens at death

This myth tells you that only God knows whether you go to Heaven or Hell when you die. People who buy into this myth usually fear dying. They fear death because they don’t know if they have been good enough to get into Heaven.

Here is a news flash for those of you who struggle with that belief. NONE OF US are good enough to get into Heaven! (Read Myth #3 again)

Jesus came to earth as a human to die in our place and overcome the power of sin and death. As a result, you can live a life free from the fear of death.

Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying. (Hebrews 2:14–15)(NLT)

Another reason this is one of the myths about death is because the Bible clearly tells you what to do to ensure your entrance into Heaven. Jesus offers everyone the gift of eternal life.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)(NLT)

But you have to receive that gift for it to do you any good. Just acknowledging Jesus exists isn’t enough.  You must choose to put your trust in Him and Him alone for your eternal salvation. And when you do that, you can KNOW that you have eternal life.

I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life. (1 John 5:13)(NLT)

You can read more about what Jesus did for you in my book, ONE WAY!.

Have you ever believed any of these myths about death? Are there myths about other topics you would like me to address in a future post?

FREE PDF of Five Myths About Death

Would you like to keep this information for easy access later?  Download your free PDF right now.

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