Spiritual vitality: the energy and drive with which Christians live their lives.
Each person we see during a normal day of life are living their lives with some source of spiritual vitality. It may be pride, self-reliance, loyalty (to their families, employers, etc.), a love of money (greed), or some combination of these.
All of us, if we are honest, must admit that even as followers of Christ we cannot live out a day without drawing from some source of spiritual vitality other than Christ. We are imperfect, and even as born-again believers it is inevitable that we will draw spiritual vitality from inadequate sources each day.
“Abide in Me”
In John 15, Jesus uses the analogy of a vine and its branches. He says that just as branches get their life and vitality from the vine they are connected to, so believers get their spiritual vitality from Him, and only from Him. He is the only adequate source of vitality for Christians, because as He says in verse 5, we can do nothing without abiding in Him.
Progressive sanctification is a well-known and accepted idea. As we grow as believers, as we mortify the flesh and kill sin more and more in our bodies, we become more like Christ in practical holiness. We do not achieve perfection in this life, because we will never be free from our sinful human nature while we are in this mortal body of flesh. But, as we crucify sin every day in our lives, we do sin less.
Shouldn’t our spiritual vitality also be increasing in degrees as we grow in maturity? As we grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ (2 Pet. 3:18), shouldn’t it take more frequent and intense attacks from Satan, our flesh, and the world, to make us stumble and sin? This is just an idea that I have been considering lately.
If our vitality increases as we grow in holiness, we should also find that we are being attacked more fiercely, and more often. Satan’s forces are active, and they are trying to inhibit the progress of God’s advancing kingdom. How better to do this than to inhibit believers, who are God’s agents of kingdom advancement?
We should be pursuing spiritual growth, just as the apostle Peter exhorts us in his 2nd epistle:
5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with
virtue, and virtue with knowledge,
6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness,
7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.
8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from
being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind,
having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.
10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling2 Peter 1:5-10 ESV
and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.
The natural consequence of a diligent pursuit of Christ is an increase in spiritual vitality. As we abide in Him, and are connected to Him as the Vine, we will see His vitality overflow into the world around us. Let’s be people who pursue Christ wholeheartedly, so a watching world sees Christ in us, the hope of glory (Col. 1:27).