Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Under Grace GUEST POST

Adapted from Set Apart
by Jennifer Kennedy Dean

“For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace” (Romans 6:14).

Under the rule of grace, everything that God demands of you, He provides for you. What the law demands, grace provides.

Grace is the power of God operating in us to produce a righteous life. Much to our surprise, His power and life indwelling us is more effective at producing right behavior than was the law with its demands and penalties.

Let me explain it this way: The laws of the United States include a law that prohibits murder. The law lays out a penalty for murder. I, a citizen of the United States, have never committed murder, nor will I ever. However, the reason I have never committed murder has nothing to do with a law on the books; it has to do with a law in my heart. There is a law in my heart against murder which makes it impossible for me to commit murder. Though a law on the books exists and that law is good and right, I am not “under it”--t does not hold me in check. In fact, I never even think about the law against murder! I spontaneously obey it. A law on the books against murder is unnecessary for controlling my behavior.

Now, suppose that the law against murder were not in my heart. Would a law on the books with its accompanying penalty, keep me from murdering? It probably would to an extent. But, should the right circumstances present themselves, I would be free to murder.

Let me tell you how it is with another law of the land that is not in my heart. There is a law on the books, with accompanying penalty, against driving faster than the speed limit. That law, I have to confess, is not in my heart. Most of the time threat of the penalty causes me to obey the law. But if the circumstances are right, I can rationalize my way around the law and I can convince myself that I probably won’t get caught and have to pay the penalty.

Which is the most effective at controlling my behavior? The law on the books or the law in my heart? When Paul tells us that we are not under the law, but under grace, he is saying that we are free from the law on the books, “a written code,” because of the law in our hearts.

Grace will produce a deeper obedience than law produces.

Jennifer Kennedy Dean is Executive director of The Praying Life Foundation and a respected author and speaker. She is the author of numerous books, studies, and magazine articles specializing in prayer and spiritual formation. Jennifer’s most recent book release is
Set Apart: A 6-Week Study of the Beatitudes. Her book Heart’s Cry has been named National Day of Prayer’s signature book. You’ll find articles and daily quotes from Jennifer at the National Day of Prayer website. Live a Praying Life has been called a flagship work on prayer. Jennifer was widowed in 2005 after 26 years of marriage to Wayne Dean, her partner both in life and ministry. They are the parents of three grown sons. Jennifer makes her home in Marion, KY.

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