Romans 7:15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
Nutshell. There it is. My constant struggle. Why do I do what I do not want to do? I’ll admit, it kind of feels good to know that I’m not the only one. That people have been working thru this same issue for the past 2000 years. Supposedly “good” people. Spiritual people. People God used mightily, have struggled with the back and forth tug of war between the good they desire to do and the evil they keep doing – in spite of all their good intentions.
Have you ever just sat back, looked at yourself in the mirror and thought “Why did I just do that?”? “What is wrong with me?”. Yeah. Me too. Today in fact. A couple of times. So, what do I do when I do what I do not want to do? How do I deal with the constant companion of my sin nature? Verse 18 says plainly that good does not dwell in me – but my sinful nature does. I’ve been arguing this with friends for years. People aren’t inherently good. We just aren’t.
Sometimes I feel like I haven’t matured past the point my two-year old is at right now. If I were to ask him “Donovan, why did you color on the wall? Mommy has told you not to do that. Why did you do it?”, I would get the same answer I give myself to the proverbial “Why did I do that?”…”I don’t know” (only Donovan says it “Aiiieeee nooooo noooo”). He doesn’t know. It just seemed like the thing to do. Which, by the way, is why you never ask a child of that age “why” they did something. There is no answer really. Frequently I feel the same way about the stupid sinful patterns I fall into. There is no answer. I don’t understand my own behavior.
I’ve heard that there are people who think somehow when you become a Christian, you cease to deal with your sin nature. That you are “set free” from the slavery to sin in your life. But Paul is very explicit in this chapter of Romans that there is still a war within him. A duality to his mind that struggles between delighting in God and being a slave to sin. I face that same fight. The battle to overcome my natural tendencies not to do what I know is good, to do what in my heart I hate. It is an exhausting war. Constant. Unending.
Ultimately I know it is not my own strength that will give me victory, but the mighty power of the ultimate victor over sin and death. Jesus. Daily taking what I do and do not do to Him is the only way I will ever understand myself. Ever really get the “why” behind my actions. Consistent relationship with the One who’s got the answers to the ultimate questions is the only hope I have. Thankfully, that’s something I can do.