23. “Spiritual Life” and “Spiritual Death”.
When God created man "according to the likeness", He warned him that he must not eat the fruits of a specific tree. He said: "On the day that you shall eat from it, you will certainly die." [Genesis 2:17]
And yet, Adam lived for very many years after he had eaten the fruit of that tree. [Genesis 5:5]
So, what happened? Did God lie to him? Or was He perhaps referring to another kind of death, and not the familiar biological death? In Genesis 2:7, it says in reference to the creation of man: "And He blew into his (Adam's) nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul".
Why does it say "a living soul"? Is there such a thing as a "dead soul"? If there is, then when is a soul dead?
The holy Fathers teach us that the above passage does not signify that God gave life to a dead body, but that He gave Adam the Holy Spirit, Who animated Adam spiritually.
Thus, when Adam ate of the forbidden fruit, he essentially lost the Holy Spirit that animated him and had now become "spiritually dead" - a "dead soul".
And that is where we find the meaning of the Christian Baptism, which renders man a living soul once again - the way Adam was, prior to his fall. This is also apparent in the following passage:"... And we, being dead on account of our trespasses, have been co-revived with Christ... and He co-resurrected and co-seated us in the heavens, in Christ Jesus..." [Ephesians 2:5,6]
However, the Apostle Paul obviously said those words while alive and not physically dead, therefore he was not referring to a physical resurrection, but a spiritual one.
With the Christian Baptism, the Holy Spirit is rejoined with man, who becomes resurrected Spiritually and who, by cleansing his heart, regains "the image of" - which gives him the potential to reach "the likeness of"."Do not lie to each other; discard the old self and its acts, and don the new self, which is renewed unto an awareness of the image of the One Who created him..." [Colossians 3:9-10]
"Resurrect" means to "stand up once again". When the human body dies, by the Grace of God it can be raised up and made to stand once again - it can be resurrected. In the same manner, the (spiritually) dead human spirit - by receiving the Holy Spirit through Baptism (Acts 2:38) - "stands up once again", in the former majestic manner that Adam possessed before losing the Holy Spirit (Genesis 2:17).
Resurrection, therefore, is of the spirit, and it is also of the body.
Given the above, we can observe that in the Holy Bible, the word "resurrection" frequently has the inference of "rebirth" or "birth above", as we can see in the following passages:"...or are you not aware that whoever of us is baptized in Christ Jesus, is baptized unto His death? We have therefore been buried with Him through Baptism unto death, so that , just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so shall we walk in a newness of life. For, if we have become fused with the image of His death, so have we also to His resurrection. Knowing this, that our old self was co-crucified so that the body of sin might be abolished, to never more labour in sin for us.... and if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him..." [Romans 6:3-8]
"...having been buried with Him in Baptism, in Whom you have also been co-resurrected through the faith in the energy of God Who raised Him from the dead. And while we were dead in our trespasses and the prepuce of our flesh, He co-revived us together with Him, granting (forgiving) us all trespasses." [Colossians 2:13-18]
With Holy Baptism therefore, man is resurrected Spiritually. This can be seen in the following verse also:
"Then Peter said unto them: 'Repent, and be baptized, each one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit". [Acts 2:38]
"....for if you are co-resurrected with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at God's right hand side. Set your mind on the things above, not those that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is concealed along with Christ, in God." [Colossians 3:1-3]
It is apparent in the above passages that with the Christian Baptism, the old, sinful self dies and in its place, the new self is resurrected, according to the following verse also:
"...that you put away the old self according to the previous mention, who becomes deteriorated according to the desire of deceit, and your mind be renewed by the spirit...." [Ephesians 4:22,23]
For the "new self" to begin to be animated, the old self must first be put to death. That is the way to commence a course of renewal and sanctification. It is a new, Christian life, which begins with the Christian Baptism in water and in the Holy Spirit, as Christ had told Nicodemus. With water and the Holy Spirit, a Christian's spirit is born again - it is resurrected - and just as "the body without the spirit is dead" (James 2:26), so is the human spirit dead, without its rebirth by the Holy Spirit, and is in need of resurrection (Ephesians 2:5,6).
We have thus returned to the point from where we began:
For man to be able to climb to the heights of perfection and reach the "complete knowledge" of the "likeness", it is necessary firstly (after cleansing of the heart) for God to resurrect man's spirit, granting him once again the Holy Spirit, the way Adam possessed it. So, He sent forth the "promise of the Holy Spirit" on the day of the Pentecost, by spiritually resurrecting the members of Christ's Body and leading them to the perfection that Adam failed to attain originally, even though he was on the path towards the "likeness".
That which Adam lost when he sinned and had rendered him Spiritually Dead, man can now acquire through Holy Baptism. It is the "gift of the Holy Spirit", for the "rebirth" that the Lord Jesus Christ spoke of to Nicodemus, in John 3:3-8:
"...Jesus answered and said to him.... 'Unless one is born above, he cannot see the kingdom of God'. Nicodemus said to Him, 'How can a man be born who is old? Can he enter his mother's womb a second time and be born?' Jesus answered....'Unless one is born out of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel at what I said to you, that you must be born above. The Spirit breathes wherever He wants and you hear His voice, but you do not know from where He comes and where He goes; thus is everyone who is born of the Spirit."
"Spiritual Death" therefore is when someone loses the Holy Spirit, and "Spiritual Resurrection" is when he re-acquires it.
Article published in English on: 21-7-2010.
Last update: 15-10-2010.