Understanding this life requires ever keeping in mind that you are at the same time living in two different worlds if you are in Christ. There is the natural world that you can see, feel, taste, smell and hear. Then there is a Spiritual world that our natural senses can’t discern.
The natural world is made up of material, and so you might hear it referred to as a naturalistic/materialistic world. Take a moment to notice what you can see right now, what you are hearing, tasting, and smelling. You are noticing sensory inputs into an infinitely complicated machine which is your body. With this body you experience the beauty of things like blue skies, birds, dogs and sunsets. You can also experience unpleasant things like pain, sadness, fear or anger. If this material world was all that there is then these experiences would be nothing more than your “machine” processing data by way of chemical reactions in your head. But don’t ever buy into the notion that you are merely machines. You are much much more!
The spiritual world that exists around us is wholly unlike the natural world. Not being material it is not experienced with our senses like the natural world, but it is discerned spiritually. The Bible has much to say about this world and indeed without accepting that the spiritual world exists the Bible will never make much sense to you.
Of course there are some who do not believe that there is such a thing as a spiritual world. The Bible refers to this type of man as a “natural man”. God, speaking through Paul, says in 1 Cor 2:14 that: “…the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
This idea that there are two worlds is interwoven throughout the Old and New Testament, but we see it in the New Testament especially. Nicodemus encountered this when Jesus told him that he must be born again. He asked Jesus how anyone could possibly climb back into his mother’s womb and be born a second time? (John 3) And again, Jesus once told a group of people that they must eat his flesh and drink his blood. Of course those people abandoned Him because they did not understand that he was speaking about a spiritual reality. (John 6) The Bible also contrasts these two worlds in Romans 8 when we are told that there are those who are according to the flesh, and those who are according to the spirit. And following closely behind these principles the passage continues with: “… and the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God for it does not subject itself to the will of God for it can not do so.”
In Ephesians 2 Paul points out that before the Spirit of Christ enters a person that person follows the “prince of the power of the air”, and that this same spirit is at work in this world and also in what he calls the “sons of disobedience”. As those who are in Christ, we watch this prince at work with dismay, and sometimes with fear when we see evil thoughts, evil laws and evil deeds from natural men who have set themselves against God’s lordship in their lives. Jesus knew these things would happen, and that we would experience fear when we saw them. That’s why he commanded us many times not to fear such things when we see them but instead to fear God, which is the beginning of understanding.
I pray that you would walk and think in the spirit and that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.