In examining the essence of the effects of the Exchanged Life or the Grace movement, it is valuable to first examine the state of mankind apart from the appropriation of new life in Christ.
The life of our first birth consists of any or all of the following: the choices, feelings, and mental processes of the soul; and the behavior or actions of the body. It includes the supernatural effects of the spiritual world of darkness, the interactions of relationships with the environment, and the sum total of education. This mass of input leads to a life that is like erecting a house with jelly - always changing, always in process, always becoming and never arriving. Without a fixed point of reference, the life of the first birth (flesh) leads to hopelessness, helplessness, and destruction. It is self-centered, self-sufficient, self-made, and the source of a self-image that is never quite good enough and therefore always seeking to improve.
Due to the threat of constant fears of failure, abandonment, loss of control, and loss of identity, the life of the first birth (flesh) commonly has to become a god of global responsibility. It is judged and condemned by law in all spheres. Thoughts, actions, feelings, and speech need to be monitored constantly to determine whether they are acceptable and will lead to success and acceptance. Rejection, failure, guilt, and shame are always close at hand, forcing people to become adept at posturing, faking, pretending, denying, and falsifying in order to make a good impression and find acceptance. These facades necessitate blaming others for failures and mistakes, and finding fault with the world at large. Criticism becomes the chief control tactic, while pride blinds the critic to his own faults. Fighting, conflicts, anger, jealousy, strife, and the other works of the flesh follow to help the self-sufficient maintain their status in the pecking order.
Because the flesh is a source of exhaustible energy, it is no match, for the limitless interactions with other self focused individuals, the wounds that are sure to occur, for the temptations of the prince of darkness, and for the overwhelming pressures of life. Anxieties, fears, depressions, psychosomatic symptoms, and countless feelings stemming from the insufficiency of self-sufficiency are the norm rather than the exception.
The Exchanged Life
Into this picture steps the complete solution of God - Jesus Christ. By teaching us that we are a three-part being, the Bible draws our attention away from the body and soul with all their limitations, and directs our focus to the spirit. After demonstrating our need for a new spirit, God then joins His Spirit to ours. When the Spirit, through brokenness, is released into the soul, the spirit part of man becomes the source of new identity. In fact, man now can find identity in Christ Jesus. No longer cast adrift in the insufficiency of self-sufficiency, man now has a new source of power - Christ.
By becoming one of us and then accepting death on behalf of all of us, He brought release not only from our sins, but from their consequences as well. By placing us into Christ, God crucified all that we were by virtue of our first birth, and by virtue of our new birth, made us to be all that we needed to be for acceptance in Him and by Him. So the Exchange Life looks like this ...
The First Birth:
- Enslaved to sin
- Confidence in myself (flesh)
- A citizen of earth
The New Birth:
- Free in Christ
- Full confidence in Christ
- A citizen of heaven
- Seated in heaven
The great exchange is the first birth for the new or second birth.
It can be readily noted that the second column of attributes is rarely believed by Christians, let alone seen in them. The reason this is so is that too many of us have not been taught to live by faith, but by sight. Living by faith does not mean that we hope these things will become true of us as we mature. Rather it means that we have learned to live by that which we cannot see, by the unseen world, by the spiritual realm. If I look at Christ in me and me in Christ, it is not difficult to envision the Exchanged Life. The Exchanged Life means I have Christ’s life for my life (1 Cor. 6:17; Col. 3:4). It means that I am in Christ. It means that my true identity is no longer found in the futile efforts of the soul and body apart from Christ, but rather in the Spirit.