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The Blue Letter Bible

Don Stewart :: Can We Lengthen or Shorten Our Life by Our Own Behavior?

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Don Stewart
Although the Bible says that life and death are ultimately in the hands of God, our behavior can affect the length of our lives here on earth.

Principles For A Long Life

Scripture gives principles that can allow us to live a long life. However God does not guarantee that someone will live long if they follow these principles. Other factors can come in to play. The Bible does say.

The fear of the LORD prolongs life, but the years of the wicked will be short (Proverbs 10:27).

Moses wrote.

Keep His decrees and commands, which I am giving you today, so that it may go well with you and your children after you and that you may live long in the land the LORD your God gives you for all time (Deuteronomy 4:40).

The New Testament echoes this truth.

Honor your father and mother - this is the first commandment with a promise: "so that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth" (Ephesians 6:2,3)


In the Old Testament, we are told that King Saul's life was taken early by the Lord.

Saul died because he was unfaithful to the LORD; he did not keep the word of the LORD and even consulted a medium for guidance, and did not inquire of the LORD. So the LORD put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David son of Jesse (1 Chronicles 10:13,14).

Here is a specific example of a person dying because of his unfaithfulness to the Lord.

Premature Death

Sinful conduct can actually shorten the lives of believers. The Bible speaks of certain people dying prematurely because of some sin in their life. Scripture speaks of a sin unto death.

If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that he should pray about that (1 John 5:16).

Believers can sin to the place where it leads to physical death.


The Apostle Paul said some of the believers in Corinth died prematurely because of abuses at the Lord's Supper.

For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgment against themselves. For this reason many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world (1 Corinthians 11:29-32).

Ananias And Sapphira

Two believers, Ananias and Sapphira died prematurely because they lied to God about the price of some land that they sold (Acts 5:1-11). The Bible says that fear fell upon believers after this event.

Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events (Acts 5:11).

Judged To Physical Death, Not Eternal

It must be emphasized that these believers experience physical death, not eternal separation from God. Their physical death did not cost them their eternal soul. Paul wrote about one such person who was being judged.

When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord (1 Corinthians 5:4,5).

This man's sinful nature, or life, was to be destroyed, but his spirit would be saved at the time of the Lord's judgment. This is the consistent teaching of Scripture - the believer is secure in Christ.


The Bible makes it clear that God is in control of everything. There are certain principles given in Scripture that, when applied, may lead to a longer life. The Bible does give examples of people who died prematurely for not obeying God's commandments. These believers lost their lives, not their eternal souls.
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