“I don’t understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I can’t. I do what I don’t want to – what I hate.” Romans 7:15 (LB)
I love how gut-level honest the Apostle Paul is in Romans 7. Here he was, a mature believer, one of the greatest Christians who ever lived, sharing his struggles with his fellow believers.
And I’m so glad he did! He shared the emotional battle that is going on inside me and you and everyone who is a Christian when we try to do the right thing on our own effort.
Paul highlighted six emotional costs. Today I want to cover the first three you will experience when there is a battle going on inside you between the old and new nature.
- You will experience confusion. Paul said, “I don’t understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I can’t …” (Romans 7:15 LB). Notice that Paul said “I”. He didn’t lay the blame on another person or an enemy. He recognized the confusion came from within himself.
- You will experience guilt and shame. “I know perfectly well that what I am doing is wrong, and my bad conscience proves that I agree with these laws I’m breaking” (Romans 7:16 LB). The word “conscience” means “with knowledge.” So if your conscience is bothering you, it means you did something with the full knowledge it was wrong. The outcome of a bothered conscience is guilt and shame. God doesn’t want you to carry that around.
- The outcome is compulsions and addictions. If you don’t learn how to fight the battle inside you, it will lead to compulsions and addictions. As Paul said, “I can’t help myself because I am no longer doing it. It is sin inside me that is stronger than I am …” (Romans 7:17 LB). We have a natural human nature with a built-in resistance to doing the right thing. We want to do what is easy and fun, but we don’t naturally want to do what is right and good. Sin is fun, and it can easily become habitual.
Are any of these sounding familiar in your life? Talk to God about your concerns, but then listen for his guidance about what you should do. Tomorrow I’ll show you three more.
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This devotional is copyrighted 2011 by Rick Warren. Used by permission.