About the author


Jason Harris

Jason loves to communicate God's word both in the local church and at conferences and retreats. Jason has been involved with Worship Music since 1996 and InFocus since 2005. Jason has degrees in theology, music, accounting, and research and is currently a PhD candidate and lecturer in the College of Business, Law, and Governance at James Cook University, Cairns. Jason is also a pastor at CrossPoint Church. You can contact Jason at


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    Thanks Jason another great post in this series.

    I’ve had lots of discussions with people about regeneration over the years. I think an unsaved person’s spirit isn’t dead in the sense that it’s “inactive” like a dead body, because it seems to me that an unsaved person can have a very active spiritual life with evil spirits! An unbeliever’s spirit is ‘dead to God’ but not dead of itself. What do you think?

    I’ve also heard it said that we get a ‘new’ spirit at regeneration. I don’t believe this, but what do you think?

  2. avatar

    Jason Harris

    Thanks for the comment PJ. It’s an interesting question and helpful to clarify exactly what regeneration is.

    The picture of birth in John 3 implies that the spiritual life has not yet begun for the unregenerate person…

    Paul’s handling in 1 Corinthians and Romans addresses imputation of Adam’s “death” to us, so in whatever sense Adam “surely died” at the fall, I would think that is the sense in which we are dead.

    Ephesians 2 just sort of sums this up as “dead in sin.”

    So I guess my understanding at this time would be that this deadness is not something inherent in the human body/soul/[spirit] (this raises questions about the dichotomous vs. trichotomous being of man…), but is rather about one’s spiritual life in relation to God.

    In other words, all people are in the image of God, and therefore, all people have an immaterial part (i.e. soul, spirit, etc.) which is sensitive to the spiritual realm. But all people are also under the curse and are therefore insensitive to the Spirit of God and his word and his truth. Adam’s sin resulted in a tainting of our mind, heart, will, etc. so that we do not see, value, love, or know God. This is what I think Scripture means when it says we are “dead in sin.” In that sense, I suppose this deadness is a metaphor for human depravity at its root.

    As you’ll understand from the length and inclarity of this comment, you’ve pushed me to think more deeply about this than I have before. Thanks.

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    A tripartite view of man necessitates that he is born with a spiritually dead spirit, not with the absence of spirit.

    Yet, I think using evil spirit’s interaction with the unsaved to prove that is not a strong argument, since Satan can only make a twisted copy of the spiritual connection that God and man were meant to have, and so the two kinds of spiritual interactions are totally different. For example demon possesion is a mockery of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

    So, whether regeneration means the replacing of the dead spirit with a living spirit in man, or a quickening of the dead spirit is debateable.

  4. avatar

    Jason Harris

    I think there is weakness in assuming that spiritual deadness is necessarily parallel to a particular part of man’s being (i.e. his spirit). I think this holds even if one holds to a tripartite view of man.

    Spiritual deadness refers, I think, rather to the whole person’s deadness to that which is of God’s Spirit. The text does not say “your spirit was dead” but “you were dead.” Not “your spirit must be born again” but “you must be born again.”

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    I was unclear Jason, I was referring to what you wrote in the 3rd paragraph, “There is a living body, but spiritually, there is nothing there.” I (mis?)understood you to mean that spiritual death is the absence of spirit in man in the unregenerate state.
    The tripartite view of man seems more biblical to me, especially as it is explicitly stated in 1 Thess 5:23. Therefore man must have some kind of spirit at birth. 1 Cor 2:11 mentions this spirit, “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.”

    So regeneration must be the quickening or replacement of the dead spirit that we are born with. While the spirit is not mentioned in the verses you quoted, it is understood that born again does not refer to the body of man, or the soul of man, but the spirit of man, as separate from the other parts, which are perfectly alive in the unregenerate.

    Good discussion, it is helping me think about these things more clearly.

  6. avatar

    Jason Harris

    Ah, thanks for clarifying Steve.

    I see how my comment “nothing there” is vague. To clarify, I did not intend to convey that there was no spirit there, but rather that there was no spiritual life there.

    By “no spiritual life,” I do not suggest that man is insensible to spiritual things altogether, but rather that he is unable to see spiritual things rightly. I believe most religious people are unregenerate, and thus while very aware of spiritual things, they cannot see the simple truth amongst it all. “Seeing, they do not see and hearing, they do not hear.”

    My understanding of man is that he has two parts, the material and the immaterial (including mind, soul, spirit, will, heart, etc.). This is another discussion for another time I suppose. But I would agree that it is the immaterial part of man which is deadened to the truth.

    So to sum up my understanding at this stage, there are three states…
    1) Man is born spiritually dead.
    2) At regeneration, he becomes alive to spiritual truth and begins the process of learning it and obeying it.
    3) At glorification, that work is complete and the life that began at regeneration is complete (including the redemption of his body). The curse is reversed.

    There’s clearly much to be thought through here. Thanks for challenging my thinking.

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