I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell 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 I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
Romans 7:15-20 (NIV)
Read: Romans 7
Consider: I was reading Romans 7 recently and was struck by how many times the word ‘do’ and its declensions (derivations) appear in verses 16-18 of the chapter. Take a moment to count them and you will see that ‘do’ occurs twenty (20) times, ‘doing’ once and ‘does’ once. This made me think about the original Greek and how the words originally used were translated as the single word ‘do’ in English.
Investigation reveals that Paul uses four different words in this part of the letter that are translated as ‘do’ in English. I suppose this shows just how poor the English language can be in expressing the richness of meaning in the original Greek text. I can hear you objecting to me giving you a Greek lesson, so I won’t. It is sufficient to know that the words used encapsulate ideas like:
- acting, effecting, accomplishing by effort;
- willing, desiring, intending;
- practising, performing repeatedly;
- doing, making, manufacturing, constructing.
Take a few moments to think about these words and how the sinful nature so easily comes to the surface, even when we try to suppress it.
Just like us, Paul struggled with the sinful nature. He knew the inner battle between what was the right thing to do and the thing he actually did.
These words aren’t included in Paul’s letter to depress and discourage you. They are there to encourage you! If someone like Paul struggled with the sinful nature, why do you think you should be exempt? If Paul didn’t always do what he knew to be right, why do you think you should? If Paul was willing to confront his weaknesses, why do you think you should always be strong and able to keep yourself from sinning?
Pray: Father, forgive us when we fall so easily into sin. You know the desire of our hearts is to be holy and pure, to live our lives in ways that glorify you. We ask for your Holy Spirit to fill us and to strengthen us each day as we face the trials of life. Amen