What’s Your Instinct?

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You cannot train your instinct to do good; it is hostile to God’s ways. This is the exact reason you need God!

Those who live by the corrupt nature have the corrupt nature’s attitude. . . . The corrupt nature’s attitude leads to death. . . . This is so because the corrupt nature has a hostile attitude toward God. It refuses to place itself under the authority of God’s standards because it can’t” (Romans 8:5-7).

My yellow Lab, Rio, can’t help herself. As a Labrador Retriever, she has been bred and trained to chase, to fetch, to retrieve. This is incredibly useful when it comes to hunting. This was not helpful the day she was in our yard and a skunk ambled its way onto our property. Instinct took over. She chased. She didn’t manage to fetch, though, because the skunk’s instinct took over—and Rio got sprayed. We spent the next few days trying to get the horrible smell out.

You’d think she’d learn her lesson. But she is not able to think, “Oh, black-and-white furry thing = bad.” Her instinct is still too strong. So, two months later, when another skunk visited our house again, she got sprayed—again.

Just as my dog’s instinct is to chase, your corrupt nature is trained to do evil; it chases smelly skunks. You cannot train it to do good because it doesn’t want to. It is hostile to God’s ways.

This is the exact reason you need God. “But if God’s Spirit lives in you, you are under the control of your spiritual nature, not your corrupt nature” (Romans 8:9). God has changed your instinct. Now you want what God wants. You do what God wants. Your spiritual nature is in charge.

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