This was one of the first pieces I posted on this blog from Good News for the Living Dead. And it’s still one of my favorites. It’s also the one that gave me the idea for the title. I’ve added to it since it was originally posted, so enjoy.
So the bad news is that after Adam and Eve, sin spread throughout creation, tainting everything it touched, and destroying shalom.
But don’t worry, it gets worse. According to Paul, we’re not just sinful—we’re dead.
Dead is dead. There is no mostly dead, sort of dead, or the “I’ll be better in the morning if you’ll please just hand me my head and that stapler over there” kind of dead. Dead people are just dead. Unless they’re zombies. Or mummies. But I like zombies. They dress better.
Actually, if you think about it, zombies don’t have it all that bad. They can’t die since they’re already dead. They can walk in a slow shuffle as fast as normal humans can run terrified down a dark alley. And, if they get backed into a corner, they can tear off their own arm and beat people with it. How cool is that?
But, of course, in the end, they’re still dead.
They could try to act like living human beings. Put on fresh clothes. Invest in a small makeup company. Figure out some way to keep their rotting flesh from falling into their coffee all the time. With enough work, they might be able to blend in, become part of the community, part of the human family.
Maybe they already have.
Very carefully, look at the person next to you. But don’t let them see you looking. Zombies are sensitive. Are you sure he or she is not a zombie? How could you tell? Maybe they’re just good at acting like a human. Maybe they’re simply waiting for the zombie overlord to give the command for the zombie apocalypse to begin so they can take over the world. (What? It could happen.)
How can you tell the difference between a regular human and a zombie in a suit?
For that matter, I wonder if it’s possible for a zombie to deceive itself. If a zombie spends enough time pretending to be human, can it forget that it’s really dead? (There’s an idea for a blockbuster movie lurking in there somewhere.)
That, of course, raises the question, what if you’re a zombie and you just don’t know it?
It’s easy to say that sin has spread throughout all creation; it’s much harder to admit that I am sinful.
We don’t want to believe this. We desperately long to hold on to the idea that deep down we’re basically good people. Sure, we do some stupid things at times, but that’s not who we really are. Those were just mistakes. We’re not really dead. We’re fine. Has anyone seen my leg?
Sadly, the truth is far different. And, if we were honest with ourselves, we’d see it. Take a moment to reflect. How many times have you wanted something that you knew you shouldn’t? I’m not talking about those times when you’ve actually done something wrong, just those times when you’ve wanted to. Why? Where do those desires come from? What’s wrong with us that we would actually want something that we know is bad and will ultimately harm us and the people around us?
Or what about all those times when you’ve wanted to do one thing, but ended up doing another? No matter how many times you told yourself that you should do the right thing, you simply couldn’t make yourself do it. We’re all like that. What’s wrong with us?
And how long would it take you to come up with a time when your emotions were a mess? Anger, bitterness, loneliness, despair, jealousy, whatever. Is that how things are supposed to be?
And, of course, who can miss all the physical reminders of sin: death, decay, disease, destruction. I woke up the other morning with a sore back, a stiff neck, and an aching shoulder. That has to be a manifestation of sin; I’m not old enough yet to have that many aches and pains.
So even a fairly quick look at our own lives reveals that we’re a mess. And the Bible agrees—our minds are “darkened” (Eph 4:18), our wills are weak (Rom 7:15), our emotions are in chaos (Tit 3:3), our hearts are deceitful and wicked (Jer 17:9), our consciences are corrupt (Tit 1:5), and I could go on. Sin has thoroughly affected every part of our being. There is no “core” of the human person that remains fundamentally good. This doesn’t mean God has stopped loving us, or that humans are no longer capable of doing some impressively good things. The good gifts that God has given us are still ours, and humans can do some amazing things with them. But we cannot escape the fact that according to the Bible sin seeps through every part of us.
That’s what the Bible means when it says that we are “dead” in our sins. We are cut off from God, the very source of life, and thoroughly sinful in every aspect. There is no partially dead. We’re just dead.
Outside of Christ, we’re all zombies.