Psychology, Religious

Living vs Existing: The Biblical Perspective

Life has been a race that, in some cases takes us to places we have never wanted to visit. While in race, there are two terms that seem synonymous but are different. In order to be victorious, and for the race to take us to our expected destinations we must have a clear meaning of those terms. These terms are not, other than ‘living’ and ‘existing’

What are the differences between living and existing?

A quick look may show you that, living and existing are synonymous with each other but they are not. Using the four hallmarks namely; purpose, engagement, activities, and emotions to differentiate living and existing can prove that living and existing are different although one needs to exist first before starting living.  For purpose of clarity, I put the four hallmarks in the table below.

Living vs. Existing

S/NHallmarksA person who is LivingA person who is Existing
1Purpose Knows the purpose and is committed to pursuing itDoes not have any real purpose. Anything that crosses his mind is okay
2EngagementFully engaged and attacks the days actively and enthusiasticallySlog the days passively and mechanically
3ActivitiesControls life and the things he does.Life just happens and try at best to go according to the motion that life takes him.
4EmotionsFeels passionate, joyful, enthusiastic, interested, happy, contentment, and fulfillment.No feeling of joy and passion at all.

What is living?

Living Biblically is to live according to the teachings of the Bible, including the Ten Commandments. It involves living out the ethical and moral principles of Scripture in all areas of life, from relationships and family to work and leisure. It also includes being obedient to God’s will and serving others with a genuine love for them.

What is Existing?

On the other hand, existing in the Bible typically refers to something that has been created or is in existence, either by God or by humankind. For example, the first verse of the Bible (Genesis 1:1) states, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Here, the word “created” is implying that God brought something into existence that did not previously exist. This is the concept of existing in the Bible.

Living vs. Existing

The Bible teaches that living is not just existing, but actively engaging in life with purpose. Living means actively embracing God’s will and pursuing a life of faith and obedience. The Bible encourages us to “walk in the light,” or in other words, live a life of love and good works (1 John 1:7). We are to strive to live a life of holiness, righteousness, and integrity (1 Peter 1:15). The Bible also tells us to “set our minds on things that are above” (Colossians 3:2). This means that we should focus on loving, serving, and glorifying God and living in a way that honors Him, rather than just going through the motions of life without any real purpose.

What Does the Bible say?

The Bible speaks to the differences between living and existing in several ways. One of the main themes that it conveys is that living is more than just existing. To truly live is to have a purpose in life, to be in a relationship with God, and to use our lives to serve Him and others. In Genesis 2:7, God creates Adam and gave him a purpose: “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”

Our purpose Comes from God

Adam was given a purpose for living: to care for the Garden of Eden and to be in a relationship with God. In Romans 12:1-2, Paul encourages believers to offer their bodies as living sacrifices to God. He writes, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

Self-testing guide: Are you living or existing

With the biblical meaning of living and existing, It may be difficult to exactly say whether you are living or just. The following are biblical guides that can help you to make a personal judgment if you are living or existing.

  • For God’s sake, to live is to accept God’s will: Does your life reflects acceptance of God’s will?
  • God’s will for man is happiness, peace, and love between us, and eating the fruits of the land he gave us. Those who live bear the features of happiness, peace, and love most of the time. Do you bear those features?
  • Those who live are a product of God’s creation. God is our Heavenly Father, and He created us in His image. The word of God in Genesis 1:26-27 says “God created man in his image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them. Do you consider yourself a child of God created in his image?
  • Those who live have direct communication with God the creator. Borrowing the words of President Thomas S. Monson who said: “God our Father has an ear through which he hears our prayers. He has eyes with which he sees our actions. He has a mouth through which he speaks to us. He has a heart for whom he feels compassion and love. He is real. He is alive. We are God’s children, created in His image. We are like him, and he is like us. Are you in communication with God?
  • Those who are living to feel the gift of being children of God in all circumstances and perfection; feel to be divine in nature, origin, and power. They are beloved spiritual sons or daughters of the heavenly Father our Lord. Are you one of those?
  • Those who live feel the exalted status that God has. Prophet Joseph Smith once said that “God wants his children to receive the same kind of exalted status that he is.” Do you feel the exalted status that God has?
  • Those who live have a purpose. The main purpose as children of God is to attain eternity. In the book of Moses 1:39 we read God’s words that “For behold, this is my work and glory – to bring immortality and eternal life to man”. God did not intend for us to die. Do you have a purpose to fulfill in this world? Have you managed to identify and know your purpose?


In conclusion, living and existing have different meanings from a biblical perspective. Living is an active state in which we pursue a purposeful life according to God’s will. Existing, on the other hand, is a passive state in which we simply exist without making any effort to fulfill a purpose or will of God. Ultimately, living a life of faith and obedience to God’s will is what brings us closer to Him and brings us true joy and fulfillment.