“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” (Romans 7:15, ESV)
I have met with many people who are addicted to one thing or another. I have great empathy for these people, because the majority that I have counseled, truly hate what they are doing and want out of it. However, they just cannot escape it. They are trapped by the desires and wants of their own flesh. They truly are miserable and long for help.
Paul here speaks of the struggle with his desire to do what is right and the often-contrary actions that are wrong. He touches on the core of the problem in verse seventeen, saying, “So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.” (Romans 7:17, ESV) He points out that there is a sin nature in every person. It is this nature that produces a proclivity, meaning an inclination, to sin. When a person comes to faith, he is set free from the mastery of this nature, but the nature still persists.
The believer has a great desire to do what is right because, through the regenerative work of the Spirit, he has a new nature that hates sin and has a desire for righteousness. However, every believer like Paul, is appalled by his or her wrong and sinful choices. He is not making excuses or shirking responsibility for doing that which is wrong. He is showing us the mechanism that is still at work today, even in the life of believers.
We as believers, need to be aware of this truth. We still fall far short of Heavenly perfection and thus we still stumble at times. We also need to understand that there is a way to walk in victory over sin. First, for the unbeliever, he or she needs to be set free from the master of sin, by faith in Jesus Christ alone. But initial saving faith alone faith is not sufficient to overcome. To live in victory, the believer must by God’s grace walk by the Spirit (Galatians 5:16). There is great hope for the one addicted, the one plagued with sin.