Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Exchanged Life

Are you tired of trying to be a good Christian? Have you found yourself saying, “Christianity is not working for me?” Are you striving and getting nowhere? Does your spiritual life feel like you take two steps forward only to go three steps backwards? Is the joy of following Jesus distant from your weekly experience?

If so, there is hope, so keep reading.

Two truths are sure in God’s Word:
1. Following Jesus is not easy. “In this world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33a).
2. Despite the difficulties, Jesus offers hope and joy. “But be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33b).

So, how do we experience this joy in the midst of the hardships we will face? The answer is learning to live the “Exchanged Life.” The Exchanged Life is when we exchange our human attempts to live for Christ for His power and ability to live the abundant life. It is not a matter of us trying hard to be a good Christian. Instead, it is about Jesus living His life in and through us. It is about allowing the power of the Holy Spirit to work in us from the inside out.

Many Scriptures support the Exchanged Life. Consider these and make special note of the sections highlighted:

“For it is God who works in us both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13).

“May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to Him.” Hebr. 13:20-21

“Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant.” 2 Cor. 3:5-6

“To this John replied, 'A man can receive only what is given him from heaven.'” Jn. 3:27

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Cor. 3:18

“To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Col. 1:27

If you think about it, the entire Christian life is an exchange: We exchange our sin for God’s forgiveness, our old self for a new nature, our weakness for His power, our slavery for His freedom, our flesh for His Spirit, our anxiety for His peace, etc., etc.

To summarize: The Christian life is not about trying hard to be a faithful and obedient Christ-follower, but rather exchanging our life for Christ’s – allowing Jesus to live His life in and through us. The exchanged life is what Paul spoke of in Gal.2:20: “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God.”

The following are some practical suggestions for living the Exchanged Life:
1. Begin each day by admitting to God that “apart from Jesus you can do nothing” (Jn. 15:5), and God to fill you with His Holy Spirit.

2. When you find yourself frustrated during the day, allow that emotion to remind you to pray something like this, “Lord, I am doing it on my own and I am sorry. Take control and live Your life through me right now.”

3. When you feel weak or inadequate in a situation, pray this: “Lord, I embrace this feeling of weakness and transfer it to dependence on You. May Your power be made perfect in my weakness in this situation.”

4. Invite the Spirit who indwells you to have His way in your life throughout the day.