Understanding the five phases of your spiritual life is critical to your success. Remember the key questions we focus on here at DTLC? Who are you? Whose are you? Why are you here? Recognizing the five phases you go through in life – from a spiritual perspective – will make all the difference.
Every Person Included
Every single person is in one of these five phases of their spiritual life. Recall from our study in Romans 5 that we are all born in a state of “original grace.” From conception to the age of accountability, we are covered by the grace of God.
Every child ever born was and is born in grace. Even though they may still be susceptible to defects, disease, or even physical death, every child is promised a redemptive resurrection. That means a new body and life eternal with God.
At the age of accountability, when a person comprehends that law comes from God, each person becomes accountable. Therefore, personal law breaking becomes personal sin. From this point forward we live subject to sin and its power, as slaves. Our spirit dies and our body is under the power of sin. Paul calls this “living under law” and “in the flesh” (Rom. 6:14; 7:5). We are now guilty and powerless to sin. But the “much more” of the cross ( Rom. 5:15-19) covers even our personal sin.
When we hear the gospel – the full gospel, including the law and our guilt under it – and accept it as true, we place our faith in the saving work of Jesus. We are converted through faith in baptism and God’s grace is applied. Our “old” spirit is resurrected to new life (Rom. 6:4). Our penalty is paid and our spirit is “born again.” But this new life affects only the spirit.
The Struggle Phase
The problem is that our new spirit must continue to reside in a corrupted physical body. A body that is controlled by sin and if allowed, has the power to overcome our “new nature.” The struggle is real but it is also necessary.
It can be summed up in three words: power, struggle, and victory. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38; Romans 8:9, 11) gives us power to overcome the power of sin still dwelling in our bodies. Living the Christian life is about recognizing this struggle, embracing it, and learning to overpower it. This is why Paul can “rejoice in our tribulations” (Rom. 5:3-5).
The last of these five phases is our total victory, when we shed these bodies in physical death. We will have some victories in this life and the goal is to have as many as possible. But regardless of how many, so long as we continue to “fight the good fight of faith” we are assured of total victory. We will be glorified. We will one day rid ourselves of these sinful bodies and replace them with redeemed and glorified ones. This is our hope – this is His promise.
Understanding these five phases is key to your success in life. It’s also critical to understanding what Paul is talking about – and what he is not talking about – in this next major section of Romans.