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Living in Grace… Intentionally or Instinctively? (Part 2 of 2)

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Paul expresses his misery and frustration to live a godly life when he says in Rom 7:18 (Amp): “For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot perform it. [I have the intention… to do what is right, but no power to carry it out.]” I’m not talking about the desire to live upright, but the intentional drive with which we find ourselves engaged in to make life work.

Why does God say “His commandments are not burdensome”? Less and less, I’m hearing the commandments of the Scriptures to be demanding requirements and prescriptions. More and more, I’m hearing them as a description of something restful that happens in and through me because of a miracle. It’s the miracle of who I am, stemming from the reality of Christ in me. It’s the miracle of His GRACE.

If we focus on the mechanics of breathing, we can easily go nuts with every breath. Does a created being need to practice the principles of breathing; how and when to inhale and exhale; to mandate the rhythm and beating of their heart? Do we initiate our getting hungry? Don’t we just simply live without conscious thought of making these functions occur? This physical creation that we live in is coming to die no matter how diligently we try to maintain it or improve upon it. There is the hope of a future experience of a replacement, a glorified body, which God says is already a done deal.

What about the new creation that we already are? “Though our outer body is wasting away, yet our inner self is being renewed day after day.” He is causing this to happen. What would happen if I fully ceased from my own self- effort? Might I find that things happen quite naturally… instinctively?

I wonder if Jesus is intentional about not letting us succeed at living the Christian Life- His own Life? I wonder if it’s why many Christians can’t seem to get their act together? It’s them vs Him. As my pastor would say, “we don’t get any points!” Jesus wants us to experience the miracle of His Presence within, contrary to the pride that swell within us if we succeed by our good intentions.

I have been pondering this question for several months: Is the life of Christ dwelling within us lived out intentionally or instinctively? It may seem like a leading question, but what do you think? This question presented itself as I read what Paul wrote to the Romans (2:13-14)- “For it is not merely hearing the Law that makes one righteous before God, but it is the doers of the Law who will be held blameless”. But look at what follows… “When the Gentiles who do not have the law do instinctively what the Law requires, they are a law to themselves, since they do not have the Law”. The Gentiles did not have the Scriptures to tell them what to do. There was no list, no required set of biblical principles to follow, no systematized theology, no methodology of how to be a good Christian. Yet they were living proof of the reality of something instinctual within- that instinct was Jesus. It was God, and it was Love. The “doing” was not an intentional effort of meeting requirements, but was as natural as breathing. Those held to be blameless and righteous were those who had been made a new creation.

Law requires that we be intentional about living our life FOR God. It brings weakness and death… which is ultimately the cessation of our self-effort. Grace is the gift of a new nature, of instinct… and it is Life. It is the experience of living FROM God, because it is Jesus Himself living in and through us.

D.L. "Woody" Woodward

About the Author

Woody, and his wife, Donna, have been married 29 years. They have 3 children, ages 22, 26 & 28. Woody graduated from Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, IN, 1979, with a BSBA. Following graduation He worked for 2 Fortune 50 companies in his 24 year tenure as a commercial financier and senior officer. After 17 years of marriage and into a season of brokenness, Woody & Donna came to know by experience the truth of the indwelling Presence of Jesus through the ministry of Grace Ministries International ("GMI"), Marietta, GA. From November, 2002 through December, 2010, Woody served atGMI in various ministerial and administrative roles. He is now working with Grace Connections, Woodstock, GA, where he enjoys sharing the depths of the New Covenant reality, The absurdly wonderful Gospel of Jesus.