Why do I do what I hate?

Sometimes my worst enemy is myself. And it’s confusing. “I don’t really understand… for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.” (Romans 7:15)

It’s a peculiar thing, isn’t it? However, it’s good that I recognize when I do something wrong, because it “shows that I agree that the law is good.” (Romans 7:16b)

That’s crucial.

But here’s an interesting factor that Paul mentions: “I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.” (Romans 7:17)

I read this verse and mentally gasped. On the surface, it sounded like Paul was shifting the blame and making himself irresponsible. Obviously, this couldn’t be true, so I looked up the meaning online. Here’s a piece of commentary that I found that makes sense of the verse:

“By distinguishing his real self, his spiritual part, from the self, or flesh, in which sin dwelt, and by observing that the evil actions were done, not by him, but by sin dwelling in him, the apostle did not mean that men are not accountable for their sins, but he teaches the evil of their sins, by showing that they are all done against reason and conscience. Sin dwelling in a man, does not prove its ruling, or having dominion over him. If a man dwells in a city, or in a country, still he may not rule there.” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)

Essentially, this verse points at our true identity in Christ. Yes, we’re accountable for our actions, and yes, we can be forgiven for those actions, but it’s not who we are. Sin is not normal. It never was, and it never should be. It naturally and spiritually goes against reason and conscience.

That’s a game changer. Because sometimes we get used to sin, and we figure the curse is the norm. But it’s not. And therefore it is not our true, righteous selves doing wrong, for that would be impossible. Instead, it is the sin that is temporally dwelling within us, causing us to let go of reason for a moment. However, through the grace of Christ, it is slowly dwindling and being run out of our city, just as a man might live in a city, but does not rule it.


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