I find that I often have the same difficulty Paul experienced when he writes in Romans 7 that the good he wants to do he doesn’t do and the bad that he doesn’t want to do is what he often does.
He goes on to say that it is the sin within him that is causing this problem. This is not to say as the comedian Flip Wilson once remarked, “the Devil made me do it.” No, Paul has something more serious in mind. It’s Paul’s own willingness to sin that is the problem. It’s his own ego, his territory that is getting in the way. Once you have set the boundaries on your particular territory you have created a playground for sinful behavior, selfish behavior that may evidence itself in anger, jealousy, pride and worry.
Paul is writing that the only way out of this dilemma is through Christ and the formation of Christ within us. See Galatians 4:19.
Paul even comments at the end of chapter 7, ‘but in the sinful nature I am a slave to the law of sin.’ Or as the Message paraphrase has it, ‘ but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.’ (Vs. 25)
What I prefer to say is that all territory belongs to Christ. I have no King but Christ. I cannot let me ego dictate to me what is right and wrong. All I want is Christ in me and then I can do what Christ would do in my body.
Now last night is an example. I was getting ready for dinner with my wife and noticed there were no forks in the drawer where day by day I would normally find forks. So I mentioned it and my wife said that all the silverware happened to be in the dishwasher. The understanding I got from that, after 45 years of marriage, was that it might be a good think if I, for once, took care of that little issue. Yeah, I got annoyed, thinking that maybe she could have asked me nicely to unload the dishwasher. See, I have my territorial issues. Don’t make inferences about my ineptness when it comes to helping out around the house.
So there I was, wanting to do good but not able. The good, in this case, was just having a nice attitude about the whole thing. Now I could say that some ugly demon was living his life in me but no, that’s not the case. I am my worst demon sometimes. Another word perhaps is ‘selfish’. So I have to enlarge my territory by making it all belong to Christ and then nothing can take me from God’s love not even subtle inferences about my responsibilities.