Grasping Our True Identity in Christ
Exchanged life spirituality concentrates on the reality of an entirely new identity through the in-Christ relationship that can dramatically transform us as we progressively grasp it in our experience. This approach to the spiritual life commonly stresses a number of principles:
- The substitution of Christ’s life for the “self-life.” Those who are in Christ have “laid aside the old self with its evil practices” (Colossians 3:9; Ephesians 4:22) and “have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him” (Colossians 3:10). This new self “has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Ephesians 4:24).
- Our identification with Christ in His crucifixion, burial, resurrection, and ascension (Romans 6:2-11; Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 2:5-6; Philippians 1:21; Colossians 3:1-4). The list of affirmations in chapter 2 illustrates the multifaceted nature of our new identity in Christ. Exchanged life spirituality stresses the in-Christ relationship and the importance of experiencing and expressing His life in us.
- Our freedom from the law of sin and of death through the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:2). The key to our freedom from the power of sin is our co-crucifixion with Christ and the indwelling power of the Spirit. We are no longer under law but under grace (Romans 6:14).
- We must know these truths, acknowledge them by faith to be true regardless of feelings to the contrary, and present ourselves to God as people who are alive from the dead (Romans 8:6-13). Although we may not feel this way, Scripture declares that in Christ, we have actually and already become saints, children of light, and citizens of heaven (1 Corinthians 1:2; Ephesians 5:8; Philippians 3:20).
- The basis of our salvation is also the basis of our sanctification (Galatians 3:2-3; 5:5; Colossians 2:6). Just as we were justified by grace through faith, so we are sanctified by grace through faith. Good works are not attained by dependence on our own fleshly efforts, achievements, or merits; instead, they flow from the power of the Spirit of Christ who indwells us (Galatians 5:16-25).
- Brokenness (realizing the bankruptcy of our own resources and efforts) and unconditional surrender are part of the process of appropriating Christ as life (Romans 7:14-25; 12:1-2; 2 Corinthians 12:9-10; Galatians 5:24).
- Only Christ Himself can live the Christian life, and He does this in us and through us (John 15:1-8; cf. 2 Corinthians 2:14). As branches of the true vine, we do not create life, but we receive it through our connection with the vine. The new life that flows in and through us is displayed in the fruit we bear, and this fruit not only nourishes others, but contains the seeds of its own reproduction. This life is sustained by receiving and abiding as branches in Christ the vine.
- It requires “a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him” for us to move from a cognitive to a personal and experiential knowledge of these spiritual truths (Ephesians 1:17-19; Colossians 1:9). The eyes of our hearts must be enlightened in order for us to grasp the nature of our new calling, inheritance, and power (Ephesians 1:18-19).
- The spiritual life is an inside-out rather than an outside-in process (Ephesians 3:16-19). The Father strengthens us “with power through His Spirit in the inner man” (Ephesians 3:16). In this way, sanctification is a divine-human dynamic in which our “outworking” (“work out your salvation with fear and trembling”; Philippians 2:12) is an expression of God’s “inworking” (“for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure”; Philippians 2:13).
- The exchanged life is not a matter of trying to do things for Jesus, but of claiming and resting in what He has already done for us (Galatians 2:20). The new nature we possess in Him is now our deepest identity, and the practice of sin is incompatible with the new creations we have become as children of God (2 Corinthians 5:17; 1 John 2:1-2; 3:1-10). While we are in this body, we will experience the pull of the old beliefs, attitudes, and dispositions, but we must see ourselves as new people, adopted into God’s family, who need not yield to the lures of the flesh (Romans 8:12-17).
Taken from Ken Boa’s Handbook to Spiritual Growth
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