Change or an Exchange?

What is the Exchanged Life?

For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

Col. 3:3

The Exchanged Life is practical day-by-day trusting in an all-sufficient Christ who lives within us by an all-powerful and sufficient Holy Spirit. This same Holy Spirit enables us to live the life of Christ in a world gone mad. Christ’s life is our life when we receive his life by faith. As Christ lives his life in and through us, our life becomes an abundant life. As a result, our  Christian lives becomes lives of spontaneous joy. Joy is that deep, supernatural fulfillment that comes in knowing that we are experiencing and expressing the one who is true satisfaction, Jesus Christ. Joy is knowing that we are unconditionally loved, graciously forgiven, and eternally kept. Joy is released in our lives when we cultivate Christ’s conscious, constant presence. The Exchanged Life is the direct daily application of the Great Exchange—a continual substitution of our weaknesses, shortcomings, and failures for Christ’s strength, adequacy, and victory. The Exchanged Life is Christ changing us from within:

You can never have a changed life until you experience the exchanged life. Christians are continually trying to change their lives; but God calls us to experience the exchanged life.

Bob George, Classic Christianity: Life’s Too Short to Miss the Real Thing (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1989), 108.

The exchanged life is passive in that Christ works in us, but it is active for Christ empowers us to make righteous right choices. We must choose to walk in the Spirit, put on the new man, and trust our heavenly Father’s guidance and direction. As we maintain the confident expectation that God will be faithful to his promises, then we can anticipate and expect his gracious exchange of our weaknesses for his strength.

Brothers and sisters, victory has to do with an exchanged life, not a changed life. Victory does not mean that one is changed, but rather that one is exchanged. We are very familiar with Galatians 2:20, which says, “I am crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith in the Son of God.”

The overcoming life is not a change but an exchange. If it were up to you, you could not make it. But if it is up to Christ, He can make it. The question is whether it is you or Christ who overcomes. If Christ overcomes, it would not matter even if you were ten times worse than you are now . . . .

Thank and praise the Lord. We have not been able to change ourselves for all these years. Now God is making an exchange. This is the meaning of holiness. This is the meaning of perfection. This is the meaning of victory. This is the life of the Son of God! Hallelujah! From now on Christ’s meekness becomes my meekness. His holiness becomes my holiness. From now on His prayer life becomes my prayer life. His fellowship with God becomes my fellowship with God. From now on there is no sin too great for me to overcome. There is no temptation too great for me to withstand. Victory is Christ; it is no longer I! Is there any sin too great for Christ to overcome? Is there any temptation too great for Christ to surmount? Thank and praise the Lord! I am not afraid anymore! From now on, it is no longer I but Christ.

Watchman Nee, The Life That Wins (New York: Christian Fellowship Publishers, 1986), 35.

2 Replies to “Change or an Exchange?”

  1. I agree that our life is weak, short, and full of failures, but I don’t think the Bible presents the idea of an exchanged life.

    You quoted Gal 2:20 where Paul talks about his being crucified and Christ living in him. But immediately, he says, and the life which ‘I’ now life. Clearly Paul was still living. Of course, there is the old I that was crucified, but now there’s a new I, an I that’s still living. I would say that this is not an exchage of Paul for Christ, but a grafting of Paul into Christ. Paul was describing a grafted life, not an exchanged life.

    He describes this grafted life in Romans 11 (vv. 17, 19, 23, 24). What I mean by this is that in a grafted tree, the source is the tree, but the grafted branch bears the fruit. The tree needs the “cooperation” of the branch to bear fruit. In my own experience, Christ does not take control of me to overcome my sin or weakness. Instead, He needs my cooperation to live out through me. That is a grafted life as opposed to an exchanged life.

    I’d like to hear your comment about this. What do you think?

  2. Clark:

    Wow, you are the first person in my thirty years of ministry to object to the classic deeper life teaching of the exchange life. I’m surprised since your blog indicates that you have read such great Keswick authors as Watchman Nee, Andrew Murray, and Hudson Taylor. Taylor’s *Spiritual Secret* chapter fourteen set me free to understand the joy that is the Indwelling Christ.

    Let me define further: the Exchanged Life is the one-sided trade of our sins, inadequacies, and numerous failings for Christ’s forgiveness, life-sufficiency, and overcoming victory. The exchanged life is not losing our personalities, unique giftings, and talents for Christ’s. But, it is Christ taking our “junk” and replacing it with his righteousness that we may live the life for which we were created. We do not cease to be unique persons, but we do by the power of the Holy Spirit experience overcoming life in us. As the Apostle Paul said, “And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God.” I would suggest Stephen Olford’s book, *Not I but Christ* for a complete and thorough exegesis of Gal. 2:20.

    A. W. Tozer wrote an essay on the exchanged life in *That Incredible Christian.* Here is the substance of his discussion:

    A great preacher whom I heard a few years ago said that the word “renew” in Isaiah 40:31 really meant “exchange”; so the text should read, “They that wait upon the Lord shall exchange their strength.”

    *Oddly enough I do not now remember how he developed his sermon or just how he applied the text, but I have been thinking lately that the man had hit upon a very important idea; namely, that a large part of Christian experience consists of exchanging something worse for something better, a blessed and delightful bargain indeed.

    At the foundation of the Christian life lies vicarious atonement, which in essence is a transfer of guilt from the sinner to the Saviour. I well know how vigorously this idea is attacked by non-Christians, but I also know that the wise of this world in their pride often miss the treasures which the simple-hearted find on their knees; and I also remember the words of the apostle: “He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Cor. 5:21). This is too plain to miss for anyone who is not willfully blind: Christ by His death on the cross made it possible for the sinner to exchange his sin for Christ’s righteousness. It’s that simple. No one is compelled to accept it, but at least that is what it means.

    And that is only the beginning. Almost everything thereafter is an exchange of the worse for the better. Next after the exchange of sin for righteousness is that of wrath for acceptance. Today the wrath of God abides upon a sinning and impenitent man; tomorrow God’s smile rests upon him. He is the same man, but not quite, for he is now a new man in Christ Jesus. By penitence and faith he has exchanged the place of condemnation for the Father’s house. He was rejected in himself but is now accepted in the Beloved, and this not by human means but by an act of divine grace.

    Then comes the exchange of death for life. Christ died for dead men that they might rise to be living men. Paul’s happy if somewhat involved testimony makes this clear: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20) .

    This is mysterious but not incredible. It is one more example of how the ways of God and the ways of man diverge. Man is a born cobbler. When he wants a thing to be better he goes to work to improve it. He improves cattle by careful breeding; cars and planes by streamlining; health by diet, vitamins. and surgery; plants by grafting; people by education. But God will have none of this cobbling. He makes a man better by making him a new man. He imparts a higher order of life and sets to work to destroy the old.

    Then as suggested in the Isaiah text, the Christian exchanges weakness for strength. I suppose it is not improper to say that God makes His people strong, but we must understand this to mean that they become strong in exact proportion to their weakness, the weakness being their own and the strength God’s. “When I am weak, then am I strong,” is the way Paul said it, and in so saying set a pattern for every Christian.

    Actually the purest saint at the moment of his greatest strength is as weak as he was before his conversion. What has happened is that he has switched from his little human battery to the infinite power of God. He has guile literally exchanged weakness for strength, but the strength is not his; it flows into him from God as long as he abides in Christ.* (Pg. 32-33).

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