“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.” – Romans 7:15-20 (NIV)
Ever felt like that? If we are honest, we would have to admit that Paul pretty much nailed the dilemma we all face. We have ideals, but we must try to adhere to those ideals in the real world that has real challenges. It can be a challenging thing for us to come to grips with who we are and why we seem to do what we don’t want to do. Even though we know Christ, we can still make very poor decisions, particularly if we’re treating the tempting influence of sin too casually.
What Paul is talking about permeates every area of life, including relationships. It’s why your family life isn’t quite what you pictured it to be when you were dating. The same with your friendships, which are sometimes way too complicated for your liking. It could be part of the reason you struggle relationally with the people you work with and for. How often do we ask ourselves “Why on earth did I do that?” Or, “why in the world would I snap at my wife or friend or co-worker?” We seldom have an answer, let alone a good answer.
In other cases, we don’t do what we say we will do. You say you want to get together with your parents and siblings because it is the polite thing to do, but you know you won’t. You promised your spouse a date night, but it didn’t happen because, once again, other things in your life pop up and take precedence.
We are involved in a daily battle against sin’s influence in our lives. James 4:17 (NIV) says, “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” So what is good? According to Micah 6:8 (NIV), “ He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
So why do we do what we don’t want to do? We do these things because we’ve been deceived and we don’t understand our own actions, but Christ has delivered us from the power of sin and in Him, we’re given the grace to overcome. 1 John 5:4-5 says, “For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.”
- Who is the person or persons in your life that you are having a hard time accepting?
- What can you do this week to overlook their flaws and accept them as they are?