We’re body and spirit, but only one’s alive!

     Paul had a unique definition of “life.” Life, for instance, was not what he was experiencing in his physical body. His body was merely a vessel for his sinful nature, and his sinful nature only “bore fruit for death (Romans 7:5).” To Paul, a body controlled by its sinful nature “is dead because of sin,” Romans 8:10, and talking of his own body he cried out in Romans 7:24, “Who will rescue me from this body of death?” In Paul’s experience, there was no life to be found in his body. Instead, it was hell-bent on killing him. 

     “But,” he added in 8:10, “if Christ is in you…your spirit is alive.” The body may be dead but there’s this other part of us called “spirit,” and that’s the bit where life is. We’re body and spirit, but only the spirit part of us is truly alive. And then it’s only alive if Christ is in us.

     For a human being to come to life, therefore, or experience life for the first time, he needs to have Christ living his life in him. “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ (8:9),” and that’s important because “there is no condemnation for those who are in (or belong to) Christ (verse 1),” and that’s important because condemnation means death. But there’s no death if there’s no condemnation, and there’s no condemnation if we belong to Christ and he’s living in us. “Life,” then, to Paul, is the Spirit of Christ bringing the “spirit” part of us to life by living God’s life in us. Life for a human, therefore, is defined as God-life in us, and until we have God-life in us, we’re not alive. 

      Or, put another way in verse 11 – “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.” That’s a startling verse because our bodies don’t automatically come with “life” when we’re born. We have to be “given life” at some later date, at whatever time the Spirit lives Christ’s life in us. There is no life in our mortal bodies otherwise.

     And what is the evidence that the Spirit has given us life? It is our desire and ability to obey God and please him, verse 10 – “your spirit is alive because of righteousness.” What righteousness? We want to “put to death the misdeeds of the body (verse 13).” That’s the Spirit at work in us, and that’s our proof we’re truly alive.

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Eternal life is…

In John 17:3 Jesus said, “Now this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God.” That’s quite a statement. I remember the “Love is…” buttons, well here Jesus is saying “Eternal life is…” – but who would have thought that “eternal life is….knowing God?”

But if anyone knew that for a fact, Jesus did, because “No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven – the Son of man (John 3:13).” Jesus knew God firsthand, and knowing God as he did he simply had to tell us that “life is God.” There’s nothing more that life could be about than God. God was it. God’s always been it. There’s no life without him.

I’ve just done a Memorial Service for a lady who believed that, too. Her favourite expression was: “I don’t want to make it without him.” That’s exactly what Jesus was saying. There’s no life in life without God. He is the life in life. Compare a day with God in it to a day without him. Well, she couldn’t stand the thought of making it through a day without him. Without him it was just another day, going through the motions of keeping oneself alive physically, doing one’s chores and duties, and collapsing in front of the TV when tired out. And it all becomes a rather pointless, numbing existence after a while, like the droning tick of a grandfather clock. Another tick, another day. And for what purpose?

Perhaps that’s what this life is for, then, to discover the difference that God makes to a day. And I think I’m beginning to experience what that’s like, as I realize he’s interested and involved in every part of my life, and in every second of what I’m doing. He’s the ultimate Dad, who loves being with his children, loves watching them, loves joining in with them, loves hearing their ideas, loves helping them out when they can’t get something to work, loves helping them find things they’ve lost, loves to feed their creativity, develop their skills, open up new dimensions and give them new thoughts.

And it’s knowing his Dad’s this way that makes a child’s life come alive. A day is so much better with Dad. Life is Dad. And we’ve got such a Dad for eternity, too!