None of us can define life. We do not know what it is, what it consists of, but we know that it exists. In many places the Bible tells us that we are a part of the body of Christ, it also tells us that we have the life of Christ. Many illustrations used in the Bible emphasize this point. For example there is the illustration of the vine and the branches.
Do we understand these verses to be describing a real relationship or a figurative one? I take them at face value and I believe that in doing this I am applying a meaning which is perfectly reasonable. The fact that new agers have distorted the truth and made it into a lie does not negate the reality of what is true. New Agers believe that we are all inherently god. According to them we only need to discover that we are. But the truth is that we have been made partakers of the life of God. We are partakers of His life, whatever that is. You and I cannot define this, but the Bible calls it the holy spirit which is a very real, literal thing.
The new birth is not simply a human response to motivation, it is the result of divine life uniting with human life and the Bible teaches that this union is a literal union, as real as the physical union between a man and his wife when they consummate a marriage. I am not saying that it is the same kind of union. One is physical, one is spiritual, but the fact that something is "spiritual" does not mean that it is not real.
We do not know very much about spiritual things, but surely we know enough to know that they are literal - that is, they are real, not figurative. God is spirit, angels are spirits, we have a spiritual side to our nature, are all these things figurative or are they literal? Likewise, the spirit of God in us is a literal thing which unites with our spirit and so we become in a very literal sense a partaker of the actual life of God.
This in no way denies the place of the word of God in the life of the Christian because it is through the word that God makes us know what is real and true. As we learn of these real spiritual things we may believe in them and therefore experience them. Furthermore, since we are only human with only human memories and human attention spans, we need to feed on the word continually and to keep these things always before our minds lest we forget. These realities are experienced by faith, but faith is only exercised consciously , therefore, if we do not remember the truth, then we cannot believe the truth and therefore cannot live the truth.
I do not believe in "automatic" Christianity, but I do believe that Christians are truly partakers of the very life of Christ and are therefore a part of His spiritual body. That is, His life, His spirit has become a part of their existence and they have become a part of His, even if the reality of this experience can only be maintained by faith.
Two aspects of law
There are two aspects to the law, the written law (the letter) and the living law (the spirit, or Christ). The written word is exactly that. It is written. The only thing it can do is instruct. There is no power in what is written, that is why it kills. However the living law works in cooperation with the written word in the sense that when faith is exercised in the written word, when it is believed, then what is written becomes a reality in the life of the believer through the power of that living word (2 Cor. 3:17).
To be governed by the written law is an experience which leads only to frustration. This is what Paul teaches and he is very strong in teaching it. We must make a distinction between the administration of the law and the law itself. A man may be perfectly able to tell me what is good, but if he can only instruct, but not help in obtaining that good, then clearly he is not the right person to deal with people who are weak by nature. So the government of law is not the best even though the law is good. The government of the spirit is far better because the spirit does not only instruct, but enables and empowers.
If we do not believe that the spirit is an actual literal aspect of God or an extension of the life of God, then of course this is something which we cannot accept. But if the spirit is a literal aspect of God which literally unites with my spirit (a literal aspect of my being), then it is easy to understand the difference between the government of the spirit (the New Covenant) and the government of the law (the Old Covenant).
When Christ unites His life with mine, I am not suddenly omniscient. I do not know all things. I still need the word and will need it as long as I live in this world. What changes is my nature. My nature is supernaturally changed. This is not the result of human effort this is an act of God, experienced by faith. But although I have the very nature, the instincts of Christ, I do not have the knowledge of Christ and therefore I am just a babe in Christ. Only as I feed on the word will I become mature in knowing the will of Christ and therefore in better representing Him in the world. This is called, growth in Christ or character development.
We have the nature of Christ, but nature is not equal to identity. We have been made a part of His life because He has given us of His very nature, but we still remain individuals, we have our own identity, even though we have His life. Maybe if we could more perfectly define life and spirit we could be better able to come to grips with what these statements in the Bible mean.