The Evil I Do Not Want to Do – This I Keep On Doing
Romans / Chapter 7 / V18-19
“I know that nothing good lives 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 what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing.” ~Ro 7:18-19
The author was facing a dilemma, a problem which he felt so helpless and hopeless.
Like many of us, the author resolved to be a good person. I believe there are not many in the world whose life’s ambition is to become the most notorious villain. In the courtroom, we have often heard how the convicts pleading for mercy; they claimed that their offences were committed out of a moment of folly, due to a sudden impulse or a temporary loss of self-control. Though we do not know if their pleas are genuine, we can certainly identify ourselves with such an experience. There are instances in our lives when we know what we are doing is wrong, yet we find ourselves doing it against our will, or conscience, to be exact. Conscience is our moral sense of right and wrong. Although most of us do not fall to such a state to be categorized as criminals, we have to all agree that at some point in our life, we have done things that betrayed our conscience. All these things end up as skeletons in our closet, regrets in our life that can never be erased.
Paul, the author of this book, faced the same problem. He was taught the Law of God at a young age, which included the Ten Commandments we are familiar with. He loved the Law of God, because it was holy, righteous, and good. Paul knew that to disobey the Law was sin, and all who sinned would be subjected to God’s judgement. Similar to the laws of the world, if we have broken the laws of a country, we are punishable under that country’s legal system. It could be a fine, a jail term, or even the death penalty if it is a capital offence. Now, God is perfectly holy, the standard of His laws far surpasses the legal system of any country. Paul knew that should he fail to meet the requirements of God’s laws, then he would certainly have to face the judgement of God and suffer the consequence of eternal damnation.
Therefore, Paul was determined to do all that he could to satisfy the requirements of God’s laws. However, there was a problem. Paul realised that whenever he tried to obey and do according to the Law, a strong desire arose in him and drove him to do otherwise – that was to sin. And the more determined he was, stronger would be the desire to disobey and rebel against the Law. Paul was torn between living out the Law and sinning against the Law, and he always found his desire to sin gaining the upper hand, doing what the Law forbade.
Although Paul strived to be a righteous person, he always ended up doing the evil he detested most. He was powerless to carry out the good he so desired. He had become a slave of sin, compelled to do sin’s bidding without a choice. Devastated, he realised that he was unable to live out the Law of God; to sin was his inborn nature that he could not possibly overcome.
Paul knew that the consequence of sin was eternal condemnation in hell. Yet he was like a fish caught on a hook, the more he struggled the deeper sin took root in his life, leaving him no chance to escape. Paul, in despair cried out: “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Ro 7:24)
Consider those convicts in prison, haven’t they in their childhood aspired to become good people when they grow up? How did they end up in their wretched state then? Now what about us? Although we may be perfect law abiding citizens and have never committed a crime in our life, let us be absolutely honest with ourselves, does our conscience condemn us as a sinner or justify us as a righteous person? Does our conscience constantly accuse us of our sins or does it constantly praise us as morally upright? Our conscience is exactly the Law that God has put into the hearts of every person, so that we may come to realise that we are sinners, serving the same purpose as how God’s Law has condemned Paul.
Paul, in despair found true hope. Being constantly under the bondage of sin, he was finally set free by a saviour! The one and only Son of God, Jesus Christ! In this world, besides God, there is no one capable of defeating sin! Jesus came into the world, enduring the most severe trials, and in all these He did not sin, not even the thought of sinning came across His mind. Paul’s inability to overcome sin was not due to his lack of willpower or because he did not try hard enough, rather it was because what he had wanted to achieve could only be accomplished by God, who possesses the life that is perfectly holy and pure, capable of overcoming any sin in the world!
When Paul received the Lord Jesus Christ, he also received that pure and holy life. Now he could finally proclaim: “For what I do is the good I want to do; the evil I do not want to do—this I do not do.” The Lord has provided the solution to Paul’s dilemma and removed the sting of death, which is sin, out of his life. Similarly, the Lord will save all who are willing to put their trust in Him, not allowing sin to drag their souls to hell.