What does it mean to have spiritual life?

To understand what it means to have spiritual life, one must first understand spiritual death as a result of the fall of humanity. When Adam and Eve made the choice to rebel against God, they broke His one rule for them: "The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, 'You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die'" (Genesis 2:15–17).

We know that Adam and Eve did not physically die that day they ate of the fruit. Instead, they experienced a spiritual death that brought sin into all of humanity and separation from God (Romans 5:12; 6:23). They could no longer be in God's presence because of this spiritual death and were cast out of the garden of Eden (Genesis 3:20–24).

We are all born into this sinful, spiritual death (Colossians 2:13). Being spiritually dead renders us unable to connect with God's Spirit until we are made alive with Christ by faith in His atoning work on the cross, which He proved sufficient through His resurrection (Ephesians 2:1–10; 1 Corinthians 15:3–8). This is the great symbolism of baptism. It shows a death before Christ (under the water like a grave) to life anew in Christ, being reborn (out of the water) (John 3:3).

Once something is alive, it can grow and flourish, which is what God intends for those believe in His name. Spiritual life is living in Christ and growing in Him: "Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving" (Colossians 2:6–7).

Where once we were dead in our sins, God brings true life in Christ so that we are now dead to sin, not controlled by it any longer (Romans 6:11; Ephesians 2:4–6). We must continually be working out our salvation—putting our sin to death, being transformed by the renewal of our minds in God's truth, rejecting the lures of the worldly system characterized by evil, and instead putting on and walking in the ways of God (Colossians 3:5–17; Romans 12:1–2; James 1:16–18; 1 John 2:15–17). Yet ultimately it is God who works in us to transform us (Philippians 2:12–13; Romans 8:28–30).

The joy is that we are now able to live in such a way to please God, not out of rules but out of love for who He is and what He has done for us. This especially includes the way we love those around us and express God's love for them (John 15:12–17; 1 John 4:7–21). Jesus told His disciples just before His death, "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you" (John 15:12).

Spiritual life is abiding in God (John 15:1–11), as well as loving and serving others. Believing in Jesus and His work on the cross gives us new life in Him. The more we submit to the live-giving work of the Holy Spirit, the more we become like Jesus and grow in this spiritual life (John 14:16–17; Galatians 5:25; Ephesians 4:17–32). We can know that we are alive and thriving in Christ because the fruit of the Holy Spirit is evident in our lives. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law" (Galatians 5:22–23).

Pursue Jesus and you will find a vibrant spiritual life (Matthew 7:7–11; Luke 11:9–13; Ephesians 1:3–14; 1 Peter 1:3–9).

Related Truth:

Spiritual death - what is it?

What is the meaning of Romans 6:23, "the wages of sin is death"?

What do Christians mean by saying they are born again?

Is salvation about more than just the afterlife?

How can I have a personal relationship with God?

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