What Is Spiritual Life and Why Is it Important?

Spiritual life quite simply is the life lived in and with God. Just as physical life begins when our physical heart starts beating, our spiritual life begins when our spiritual heart starts beating. More specifically, spiritual life begins when we are “born again.”

Kristi Walker
This is my body verse in the Bible

We all know what physical life is and how to sustain it. When physical life begins is debated by many these days, but Christians believe that, according to the Bible, biological or physical life begins at conception (Psalm 139:13-16). To sustain physical life requires air, sleep, food, water, clothing, and shelter. Deprive yourself of any of these things (especially air) and you will begin to lose your physical life or quality of life.

Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever” (John 6:53-58).

What Is Spiritual Life?

But what is spiritual life and what sustains it? Spiritual life quite simply is the life lived in and with God. Just as physical life begins when our physical heart starts beating, our spiritual life begins when our spiritual heart starts beating. More specifically, spiritual life begins when we are “born again.”

John chapter three relates a conversation that Jesus once had with a religious leader named Nicodemus. Nicodemus was alive physically, of course, but even though he was a leader in the religious community, he was not yet truly alive spiritually (meaning that religious does not equal spiritual). This story provides us with the key to understanding how to possess spiritual life. Take a moment to read over their conversation:

Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit” (John 3:1-8). 

Basically, what Jesus told Nicodemus is that someone only born of flesh possesses merely physical life; but there is a different type of life — the eternal life that God Himself possesses! To possess this spiritual life requires being born again — the second time of the Spirit of God. This may sound super complex but John 3:16 breaks it down and makes it simple enough that even a child can understand and accept it.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

In John chapter six, Jesus was conversing with another group of religious people and He explained to them what is required to sustain this spiritual life. Unless you eat and drink physical food and water, you will no longer have physical life. Likewise, unless you, spiritually speaking, eat and drink the flesh and blood of the Son of Man, Jesus, you will have no spiritual life.

Jesus’ point was an analogy that has spiritual, rather than literal, significance . . . belief in His sacrificial death on the cross [is] necessary for eternal [or spiritual] life. The eating of His flesh and drinking of His blood metaphorically symbolize the need for accepting Jesus’ cross work (John MacArthur Study Bible).

C.S. Lewis, in his book Beyond Personality (later merged with The Case for Christianity and Christian Behaviour to form the classic Mere Christianity), differentiates biological life, which he refers to as Bios, and spiritual life, which he calls Zoe. He defines Zoe as “The Spiritual life which is in God from all eternity, and which made the whole natural universe.” He uses the metaphor of humans possessing only Bios, as statues:

A man who changed from having Bios to having Zoe would have gone through as big a change as a statue which changed from being a carved stone to being a real man. And that is just precisely what Christianity is about. This world is a great sculptor’s shop. We are the statues and there is a rumour going round the shop that some of us are some day going to come to life (C.S. Lewis, Beyond Personality).

The whole offer which Christianity makes is this: that we can, if we let God have His way, come to share in the life of Christ. If we do, we shall then be sharing a life which was begotten, not made, which always has existed and always will exist (Lewis).

How Is it Most Important?

But no one said it better than Jesus Himself: Whoever believes in HIM will have eternal life! To come to truly believe in Him is to be “born again,” to move from merely physical life to spiritual life! This is crucial to understand: One does not add spiritual life to physical life; rather it’s a trade.

You must trade in your earthly nature or physical life for the spiritual life offered by God through Christ. It’s not an update or an upgrade to life 1.0; it’s a whole new way of life lived in the Spirit of God.

Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

Spiritual life is made possible only through faith in Jesus Christ and it changes everything. What sustains this spiritual life is Christ Himself. We must learn to rely on Him for everything. He calls Himself the Bread of Life.

In the Lord’s Prayer, we are taught to ask Him for our “daily bread” or sustenance. This is indeed a mystery, and yet the Bible gives us everything we need to understand it and to live it out.

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness (2 Peter 1:3).

To possess spiritual life, believe in Jesus! The answer is in Him alone.

Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/timwildsmith

Kristi Walker has been a missionary in Berlin, Germany for over 15 years working with an international church as the Director of Student Ministries. She is the author of two books - Disappointment: A Subtle Path Away from Christ and Convinced. Applying Biblical Principles to Life’s Choices.


Originally published August 24, 2020.