By Neil Anderson
I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate
Perhaps the most vivid description of the contest with sin which goes on in the life of the believer is found in Romans 7:15-25. In verses 15 and 16, Paul describes the problem: “For that which I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not wish to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that it is good.”
Notice that there is only one player in these two verses–the “I,” mentioned nine times. Notice also that this person has a good heart; he agrees with the law of God. But this good-hearted Christian has a behavior problem. He knows what he should be doing but, for some reason, he can’t do it. He agrees with God but ends up doing the very things he hates.
Verses 17-21 uncover the reason for this behavior problem: “So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which indwells me. . . . If I am doing the very thing I do not wish, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.” How many players are involved now? Two: sin and me. But sin is clearly not me; it’s only dwelling in me. Sin is preventing me from doing what I want to do.
Do these verses say that I am no good, that I am evil, or that I am sin? Absolutely not. They say that I have something dwelling in me which is no good, evil, and sinful, but it’s not me. If I have a sliver in my finger, I could say that I have something in me which is no good. But it’s not me who’s no good. I’m not the sliver. The sliver which is stuck in my finger is no good. I am not sin and I am not a sinner. I am a saint struggling with sin which causes me to do what I don’t want to do.
Romans 6:12 informs us that it is our responsibility not to allow sin to reign in our lives. Sin will reign if we use our bodies as instruments of unrighteousness (Romans 6:13). We must renounce every such use and submit our bodies to God as instruments of righteousness.
Prayer: Thank You, Lord, that I don’t have to sin. You made it possible for me to control sin’s power over me. You delivered me from the wages of sin and blessed me with the gift of eternal life in Christ.