Life is a constant struggle against both spiritual and physical death and its meaning for our lives. Spiritual death has to do with our loss of the image and likeness of God and our union with Him. Physical death has to do with hunger, thirst, cold, heat, disease, the aging process, and anything that leads to and or culminates in death.
We always have the need of food, drink, and adequate housing to maintain our life. Because of this there tends to be competition for these things, which tends to lead to greed, covetousness, backstabbing, doing anything necessary to succeed, etc. Our desire for an abundance of possessions can exist to shield us from the reality that death strips us from everything, and our greed and covetousness can be a compensation for the fear that our short life is not as good as is our neighbor’s.
There is also the fear that because of death, life is or may be, meaningless. This can lead to depression, suicide etc. It can also be the cause of much of our pride, since we are always trying to puff ourselves up in a vain attempt to escape what we perceive to be the meaninglessness of life. Pride can also come from spiritual death. We have a nagging notion that we are not what we should be (gods by grace) and so we compensate by pretending to be more than we currently are in our fallen state. This can also be the root cause of our self-destructive tendencies. Since we intuitively know that we are not what we should be, and that we are heading back to the dust of the earth, we think that self-destruction is what we deserve so we decide not to fight against it, and consequently work to destroy ourselves.
Much of our sinful pleasures are an attempt to dull ourselves to that nagging voice that says death is coming, it will all be over soon, and then what will be the meaning of all that we have done. Consequently we try and get as much pleasure as we can before it is all over. Sinful pleasures can also stem from spiritual death as we try to compensate for the lack of the joy that deification and union with God bring.
Much of our constant busyness and entertainments are designed to keep our minds off of death, the meaninglessness of life, the fear going back to non-existence, and the loss of all that we hold dear.
Our lack of union with God and our failure to see Him and his work in all things also makes life seem meaningless. If every particular thing is just a thing in and of itself, then it has no meaning other than what it is. (A tree is just a tree.) If each individual thing has no meaning, then all of the individual things taken together will have no meaning. Only if God is seen in all things can life have meaning.
Our constant judging, putting down of, and trying to rule over others stems from a vain attempt to compensate for low self esteem brought on by our fall from union with God and the constant pull of bodily death. Judging and/or ruling over others enables us to hide from ourselves the fact that we are not ruling over ourselves. The self-pride that judging others engenders also helps us to view ourselves as gods without God. This is the same mistake Adam made which brought death upon us in the first place.
In the end, in a myriad of different ways, man’s life is in bondage to both spiritual and physical death. Western Christianity tends to miss this completely as they focus on sin without much thought for death that is its cause. Eastern Christianity hits the nail squarely on the head as it says that Jesus came to destroy death in all of its forms and thereby destroys sin.