“But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives.”
Timothy 5:6. There are stages of death and this is the first one when the body is still functioning, but the soul is dead in sin. The good news is that there’s hope for this person to come to repentance and spiritual life through obedience to the Gospel.
If a “living dead” person moves to the second stage of death by dying physically, he’s doubly dead, and there’s no hope. Jude speaks of people who are “doubly dead” or “twice dead” who are physically alive but they are so far gone that their eternal destruction is set and they are not going to be saved.
A person who is “dead while living” still has hope to be made spiritually alive by being saved and “made alive” to walk in the newness of the Christian life.
Judgment is coming when Jesus judges the “living and the dead”, 1 Peter 4:5; 2 Timothy 4:1. Who are the people in these two groups: living and dead?
The “living and the dead” are the two groups of people who are either physically alive or are physically dead when Jesus returns. But each of these is made of two sub-groups.
Jesus is going to judge the living. Among the “living” there are 2 sub groups: spiritually dead and the spiritually alive. While in this state of “living” the soul is in state of flux, able to pass over from spiritually dead to alive and able also to cross over from spiritually alive to spiritually dead. A child is alive spiritually until reaching an age of accountability when the first sin makes him or her spiritually dead while living. Also, a born again person, and Peter talks about this, can turn back to the world so that his “last state is worst than the first” becoming spiritually dead. “For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them.” 2 Peter 2:21. As long as a person is physically “living”, but spiritually dead, he can come to life again. This is why the Gospel is preached. Peter says, “for this reason the Gospel was preached also to those who are dead” to be made alive in the spirit. And as long as a person is physically alive, he or she can go back from alive in Christ to being spiritually dead again, one of the living zombies.
Peter and Paul also say Jesus is also going to judge the dead. Among the “dead” there are two sub groups: the spiritually alive (was a Christian when physically alive) and there are spiritually dead people (never followed Christ). The condition for the “dead” is set since after physical death a person either goes to paradise (like the repentant thief) or a person goes to the “pits of darkness reserved for judgment (like the rich man who was in torment and wanted only a dip of water). “It is appointed for man to die once, and then comes the judgment” Hebrews 9:27.
Get a picture of the four conditions. Imagine the following four groups:  the dead dead (a hopeless condition, Jude’s “doubly dead” and possibly Hebrews “impossible to renew to repentance” might include these who’s condition is so bad there’s no salvation left for them),  the living living (Christians who are alive),  the living dead (like non-christian zombies),  and the dead living (Christians in paradise). Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4 speaks of only two of these four. Paul says when Christ returns, “the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive” which only refers to two of the four groups, the  “living living” and the  “dead” living; he’s speaking of the dead Christians and the living Christians: both are saved through the coming judgment on that day In the context of 1 Thessalonians 4, the Apostle doesn’t address the other two groups. They also will be judged that day, Mt. 25:31. The great judgment of all souls will happen on the same day commencing when Jesus Christ returns. So everyone in any of the four groups listed above will stand there on that judgment day. 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9 shows that the groups  and , the living Christians and non-Christians are judged on that same day. And John 5:28 shows that the groups  and , the dead who were never saved and those who died in the Lord, are both going to be judged on that same judgment day. Getting the picture?
Some people deny the obvious truth and say that a person made spiritually alive cannot ever again lose his salvation by becoming spiritually dead. Peter disagrees and says the following, “If indeed they have escaped the corruption of the world through their knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, only to be entangled and overcome by it again, their final condition is worse than it was at first.” 2 Peter 2:20. Peter is clearly talking about more than a potential escape, or of an offer to escape, for he says these persons did “escape” the corruption of the world through the knowledge of Jesus but they were lost again because they became entangled in and overcome by the world: the last state becomes worst that the first. Here, both the last and the first are spiritually dead conditions. These may very well relate to Jude’s “doubly dead” I referred to earlier, the  group, whose condition is beyond salvaging. The Hebrews writer speaks of a similar group of people who were enlightened and made a partaker of the Holy Spirit. He says because they fell away, “It is impossible to renew them again to repentance.” They are still physically alive, but are spiritually dead and will be spiritually eternally separated from God in hell. The possibility of this happening should make every Christian to in faith draw closer to God.
When God made a person alive (see Colossians 2:12; 3:1) and then the person turns back to the world and falls away, it can be argued that both in this life and in the after life, the judgment of God is harsher. The living zombie-like person isn’t likely to have anything to do with God and the darkness will be even greater and painful. I hope that if you read this and think you conclude you are dead while living, that you will repent. Maybe God will grant you repentance to know and follow the truth, 2 Tim. 2:25.
Everyone gets a chance to be saved and have eternal life. A difficult passage in Peter says that Jesus was put to death in the flesh but was made alive in/by the spirit and “by whom” or “in which” “he also went and preached to the spirits [now] in prison.” It’s implied that these spirits who were preached to are now in the prison because they perished in the flood without repenting. The difficult part of this passage is determining how Jesus preached the Gospel to them. The answer is either Jesus went down into the pit of darkness and preached to the “dead dead” who didn’t repent in this life or else Jesus preached to them while they were alive through His servant Noah. The second option is likely. In 2 Peter 2:5 we see Noah wasn’t only building the ark, but he was preaching. And most of the world rejected his message. But doesn’t Peter say that Jesus died in the flesh, and THEN He went and preached to the souls in prison? No, there’s no reference to timing of Jesus going to preach to them. The emphasis is “the state” of being “in the spirit” that Jesus went and preached. So did Jesus in the spirit preach and speak through Old Testament figures? Yes He did. Peter also indicates this, saying, “the prophets….search what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.” 1 Peter 1:10-11. Peter shows us that the spirit of Christ spoke through the Old Testament prophets who prophesied of Him. Well it makes sense that the spirit of Christ preached the Gospel to “those who are [now] in prison”. When He preached to them through Noah, they were the “living dead” whom God was granting they could repent and be saved. Now these dead are doubly dead, without hope because they passed through this life without repentance which set their fate for an eternity away from the presence of the Lord.
God is patient for people who are spiritually dead to obey the Gospel and come to life in Christ. Peter writes, “when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark”. Why was God being patient? Because Peter also writes, “God is patient, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” 2 Pet 3:9. Peter and Paul and John make it clear that when God’s patience runs out, at the flood of the earth, or at the fiery judgment that is in the future, there are no more chances for repentance and salvation. If you believe in Jesus Christ but have been stubborn to obey Him, this is your chance to repent and pass from death to into life in Christ. Believe and obey the Gospel. Turn away from your sinful life and put on Christ Jesus in baptism.
It is as if zombies are real. These dead souls are the living dead; being dead while they live. So recognize from this lesson the sense of urgency. Hear the words of Ananias to Saul, “And now why do you delay? Arise and be baptized and wash away thy sins, calling on His name.” Acts 22:16. Until you have obeyed this Gospel, you are dead while you are living.