I Do What I Hate

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?
Romans 6:1–2

Raising a 6-year-old with severe ADHD can be an adventure. The first word that comes to mind is impulsive. I’ve watched my son, over the last few years, do things that boggle the mind. I’ve seen him hit people without any real reason other than “they were there, and I wanted to hit them.” I’ve watched him cut pieces of clothing with scissors, only to break down in tears as he’s realized that he just did something he didn’t want to do. One day, I watched him push his sister over and jump on her. Immediately, she began crying because it hurt. I told him to go to his room and I would come in to talk to him about it. When I arrived in the room, he was broken. The poor guy was all over himself because he hurt his sister. When I asked him why he did it, he couldn’t give me an answer, because there really was no answer. It was an impulse, and he just did it. Honestly, this isn’t that uncommon for kids dealing with ADHD. It’s not even that shocking for ANY kid as they are learning how to control their impulses and do what’s right.

You could also say that this is what it’s like for many of us after we begin to follow Christ. We know what we should do, but we don’t always do it. The very thing we get on our kids for is what we struggle with as adults. Our sin nature is always creeping around the corner ready to pounce and cause us to slip up. Then, as soon as we do it, we feel awful. We start to doubt ourselves as Christians and disciples. “Maybe I can’t do this Christ-follower thing." “Maybe my sinfulness is just too deep.” The questions lead to doubts, and the doubts lead to despair. Once we hit that place of despair, many fall away. This is one of Satan’s favorite tools in his toolbag. He wants us to doubt our faith. He wants us to give up. Unfortunately for him, we have something in our hearts that fights back….the Spirit of God.

Don’t lose heart. We are not the only people in history who have dealt with this struggle. The apostle Paul himself struggled in the same way. He came from a proud background in the Sanhedrin, following rules and keeping the law of Moses, and becoming a Christ follower was more about humility and others, as well as personal holiness. Let’s also not forget that he now follows Jesus, a man that the Sanhedrin saw as enemy #1 before He died. That’s a lot of change, and it led to a lot of struggle.

For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
Romans 7:14–20

Paul here is struggling with fighting his sinful nature and longing to do what God wants instead. Unfortunately, like so many of us, he’s struggles were very real. God’s perfect Law sheds light on sin. It’s like throwing a spotlight in the darkest of areas and showing all of the evil that’s dwelling there. He says earlier in Romans 7:7 - “Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin.” We are a rebellious bunch as humans and more laws have never produced less lawlessness. In fact, throughout the world, we can see where the places with the most legislation, many times, have the worst crime. 

There’s a dichotomy here that Paul is dealing with; the law of sin and death and the law of the Spirit of life. The law of sin and death says you cannot succeed. No one is capable of living perfectly under the Law of Moses. It’s impossible to be blameless. Even one sin will condemn you. It is this sin that then separates you from God, and there’s no way to fix the chasm that has been created by our sin. The law of the Spirit of life, however, teaches us something completely different.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
 Romans 8:1–6

Christ’s sacrifice became the bridge that connected the chasm we’ve created and gave us access back to God. Now, we have the ability to follow the Spirit’s leading and find ourselves no longer condemned but adopted. While the Jewish lifestyle was filled with laws that must be followed to the dotting of the I’s and the crossing of the T’s, we now have freedom in Christ that allows us to not walk in fear of messing up every single day. For when we do, we still have forgiveness through Jesus. We can now walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh.

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
Romans 8:9–13

We still have a choice to make. We cannot live in our sin any longer, but instead, we have the help of the Holy Spirit in our lives who leads and guides us as we walk each day without fear. We aren’t walking alone. The same Spirit that rose Jesus from the grave lives within us. Let that sink in. We have the power of the Almighty God living within us and guiding our every step. Even in our weakest moments, we can lean on Him, but we need to lean on Him.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:26–28

The choice to sin will always be ours, but we don’t have to go it alone. Remember, sin leads to death, and not just the earthly kind. God hates sin and wants to eradicate it from our lives. The Holy Spirit is there to direct our steps, guide our thoughts, and guard our hearts. Even though our flesh wants to lead us in the wrong direction, the Spirit pushes us toward the narrow path of the disciple. The struggle is real, but so is the Holy Spirit. I’d rather bet on Him than me. 


Larry Hiler - April 7th, 2024 at 8:51am

I relate this to exercising each morning, the problem is I cannot take days off like physical exercise, The struggle is Real but oh so worth it! I am working out my savation with fear and trembling. Thanx.

- April 16th, 2024 at 3:38am

Great example! It's the little things that we do with consistency that can matter the most.