THE LIVING STATE
At this level, you must understand that the tens and thousands of chemical compounds in a living organism, otherwise called metabolites, or biomolecules, are present at concentrations characteristic of each of them. For example, the blood concentration of glucose in a normal healthy individual is 4.2 mmol/L–6.1 mmol/L, while that of hormones would be nanograms/mL.
The most important fact of biological systems is that all living organisms exist in a steady-state characterised by concentrations of each of these biomolecules. These biomolecules are in a metabolic flux. Any chemical or physical process moves spontaneously to equilibrium. The steady state is a non-equilibrium state. One should remember from physics that systems at equilibrium cannot perform work. As living organisms work continuously, they cannot afford to reach equilibrium.
Hence the living state is a non-equilibrium steady state to be able to perform work; living process is a constant effort to prevent falling into equilibrium. This is achieved by energy input. Metabolism provides a mechanism for the production of energy. Hence the living state and metabolism are synonymous. Without metabolism there cannot be a living state.