Video Transcript: Doing What I Hate

Today we continue hearing God's word from the book of Romans. And our focus today is on  doing what I hate. When you hear that title, you may think of being assigned chores that you  just hate doing. But you go ahead and do it anyway. Because somebody tells you that you  have to, or you've got things on the job that you've got to do. And you hate doing them, but  it's what you're paid for. And so you slog through, and you do it anyway, doing what you hate. In a sense, though, we're not talking about that at all. We're talking more about doing things  that we really do hate, and there is something in us that drives us to do it, not somebody  outside us, but something right inside us that makes us hate it and do it at the same time. If  you're a kid, you may say, Well, I know that I am supposed to love my brothers and sisters. So today, I'm going to try to do that. And then before you know it, you're yelling at each other  and bickering with it with each other and saying, I hate you. And the day ends up with you  wanting to do one thing and ending up doing the exact opposite. Or, you know, I'm supposed  to obey my mom and dad. And so today, I'm going to try really hard because I know obeying  them is good. And I know that usually what they tell me is the right thing to do. So today is  obedience day. And the day does not work out that way, they give you some directions, and  you end up doing the exact opposite. And that's not just true. If you're a little kid, later on,  you might add lying to it. You don't really like disobeying your parents, and you certainly don't like lying about it. But you know, as the old saying goes, lying lips are an abomination to the  Lord and an ever present help in time of trouble. You lie to get yourself off the hook. And you  don't really like to lie. But hey, it seems like what you have to do. And as you get older, there  are other things that you try very hard in one direction, and find yourself doing the opposite.  Sometimes when you get into your teenage years and changes start happening in your body  and in your interests, you find yourself looking at pornography. And you part of you doesn't  want to You say well, I know I shouldn't do that. I know it's not really great for me. I know that  this whole pornography industry just uses women. But you do it anyway. And you get involved in things that you don't want to do you you know that, hey, it's not a good idea to smoke pot,  it's really dense to kill your brain cells and go out and get drunk. But well, you don't want to  do that. And yet, you do that you are a husband, and you're going to treat your wife better  today. And you're not going to snap at her. you're not going to be cranky, with her you're  going to be affectionate and considerate. Uh-huh. And the day doesn't go that well. And you  find out that you're snapping at her anyway, is that because you like snarling at your wife?  Not necessarily. There's something in you that makes you snarl at her even when you know  that it would be better not to. And if you're a Christian, you know what the law of God says.  You know what the Bible says about these matters about obeying parents about being  sexually pure, about loving your spouse, about loving your brothers and sisters. And not only  does the Bible say it, but your conscience agrees with it. And you know that these are things  that you really do want, and you find yourself not doing them. You're doing the opposite of  what you want. And sometimes it comes down to more positive things. It's not just that you  do what you hate, but you don't do what you want or what you love. You don't show that  affection. You don't give that encouragement, you find yourself gossiping about somebody  instead of building them up and then you feel kind of cheap afterward that you've done that,  but that's not the last time you're going to do it. And you say, boy, I know that. You know, I  love the Word of God. I know the Bible's true. I know it's good for me to read it. And so I want  to read the Bible every day. And then you don't, the good thing you want to do, you don't do.  You say, Boy, I have neighbors, and I really should try to show them a little more kindness, get to know them a little better, build up some ties with them, I should really share Christ with  other people. That's what I agree that's a great thing to do. And weeks, and months, and even years go by, and you still haven't really made much connection with those neighbors, you still haven't talked with them. And it's not because you think that would be a dumb thing to do, or  a thing that you think is bad, or that you wouldn't like to do, you would love to do it, and you  don't do it. You could go down a long list. And if I just ask you to think about your own list, you may have some of those frustrations that I've mentioned, you may have other ones that I  haven't talked about. But just think about that the fact that you find yourself very often doing  what you hate, and not doing what you would really love to do. At about this point, there may  be some who would say, well, this message. Are you sure that it's for Christians? And are you 

sure that it's for Christians who are in kind of a normal state, or a healthy condition? Well, not  quite, you know, if you were in a perfectly healthy condition, you wouldn't need any of this.  But there are some who believe that the passage we're about to read is not for Christians at  all, that it is only for people who have not been born again, by the Spirit of God, who do not  belong to Christ. And this is their experience, when they know what God's law says, But and  they're not able to do it. And they'd really love to but they're not saved, so they can't. Well, I  don't think that that's the best way of understanding the passage. It is true that sometimes  people who are not born again at all don't have the Spirit of God are not Christians have these twinges of conscience or these habits that they would like to kick and find themselves unable  to kick those habits, that that's true enough. But to say that Christians never have this  experience. Well, I'm just sorry. But I find, certainly in my own life, and in the lives of a lot of  people whom I know that this is their experience. And we might want to then say, well, but it's not supposed to be and there must be a silver bullet or a sort of experience that would move  you to a higher level where that would never be your experience again. But it's not quite that  simple. Let's get into the passage. And then we'll think some more about whether this is for  non Christians only, or something that Christians to need to pay attention to. The Apostle  says, We know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flash 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 in me. He says, I don't understand my own actions. I don't know what I'm  doing. I've got this confusion about how could I love one thing and do the opposite thing. It  doesn't make any sense. And honestly, that's one of the reasons why this passage is so hard  on Bible scholars, for one thing that they can't just be scholars of it might be their own  experience. But for another thing, it's sometimes when you're in the middle of this, it is very  hard to understand yourself. You cannot figure out why you're doing what you're doing. And  you're not always in a great position to stand back and say, and now I'm ready to draw all the  doctrinal and theological lines of exactly what's going on here. You can't even figure out what  why you did what you did last night. And you're not going to be very good at mapping out the  grand scheme of where this fits in God's revelation. It's a confusing passage, partly because  it's a confusing experience. I do not understand I do not know why I do what I do. I do what I  hate. I don't do what I love. And it is very hard to understand why that's going on. But he does know that this is going on. I agree with the law, that it is good. I agree with God. God's law is  good. And you can draw already one conclusion from that. This is not a completely  unregenerate person who has no Work of God happening in him or her. Because if you were to read on into Romans eight you would read the flesh is hostile to God's law. It is hostile to  God's law. And this is a person whose flesh might be hostile to God's law, but who agrees that God's law is good, and who in fact, loves God's law, and delights in God's law? A person who  has had no touch in the Spirit of God at all, and has no life from God doesn't say, Oh, I love  God's law. He is right. His word is true, His commands are beautiful. That's not what you say,  when you have no life from God in you at all. You just say, Why should I listen to that Bible?  Who cares what that command says? So there is something in hear that if you think this  person is unhealthy, I agree. There is a lack of health in the person who is not able to do what he wants, and is doing what he hates. There's something amiss still, but a lot less amiss than  with the person who doesn't know his own pickle, who's got a bigger problem? The alcoholic  says, I wish I could quit. I wish I could quit, I'm doing my best to quit. I'm taking steps to quit.  And yet I find myself having relapses, Oh, I hate this. Now, Is he better off, or the one who  says, you know, alcohol helps me to function a little better. I'm really a little more at ease and  personable, when I've had a few drinks. I really don't have a problem. I could quit anytime I  wanted. But it's really not a problem. Now, if you were to ask that person's relatives or  friends, they might have a whole different story about the impact that alcohol has on them.  But the alcoholic person who is finally at the stage of I wish I could quit and I can't, is in a way better situation than the one who's saying me problem. Are you kidding? So and that this is  true, not just of alcoholism, or that kind of addiction, but many of the problems in our life.  There's a great essay that CS Lewis wrote The trouble with x. And he says the trouble with X is that everybody who knows X knows X's problem except x. You know, if you were to the people

around you, they see stuff in you that you don't. And you never see any of that when you look in the mirror, you're just about always right. There's almost always great reasons for what  you're doing. It is a great advance in your life. When you sometimes say man, was I wrong?  And I don't know why I did it. And I don't know what's the matter with me? I know God is right. I know I'm wrong. I am messed up. That's, believe it or not, it doesn't sound fun, but it's  progress. It's big progress over never seeing what's amiss with you. So doing what I hate is  certainly not a great thing to be doing and not doing the things that you would love to be  doing is not a good situation to be in. It is a better situation, than feeling very calm and  satisfied with your messed up life that just about anybody could tell you is messed up except  you. So doing what I hate is a problem. But you see, the good part of it is I agree with God's  law, that it's good. I agree that God's commands are right. And I want what God wants. I just  find myself not able to do it yet. So he's doing what he hates, and he's being who he's not. 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. He's being who he is not there. Again, it's very confusing. Who is he?  Who Who am I when I'm doing all of this? Who is the real I? Well, he talks in different ways all  in the same paragraph. I am of the flesh. What's the flesh? Well, the flesh is not just your body although certain sins get ingrained in your bodily habits and in your and your bodily urges  take precedence sometimes over your mind's ability to control them. And so certain sins of  the flesh are sins, such as not being able to manage your sexual urges or not being able to  handle alcohol and getting physically addicted to it, or forms of gluttony where you just got to eat more than is good for you and you got to eat more and eating is a way of comforting  yourself. And so there is there is a bodily aspect to the flesh, but it's a lot more than just the  things that your body gets caught up into or addicted to. The flesh also includes a variety of  other things that are mental and spiritual and not just physical. If you look at one of the flesh  lists, in Galatians, chapter five, it says, the works of the flesh, are sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery, you know, there's so far you know, a physical element to it. And but then it  goes on to say hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, those are not biological  things. Those aren't just the body not being properly controlled by the mind. That's, that's the mind and the will your chooser being all messed up and putting yourself at the center. And so  you find sins of a flesh are not just sin to the body, sins of the flesh are also Sins of the Spirit.  And the flesh, when Paul uses that term, in this passage is not just referring to my body's out  of control. It's referring to my ego, my self, my fallen self, my Adam's self, is out of control.  And so I'm of the flesh. But then there's another I agree with the law that it is good. So now  it's no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me, I do this stuff. Well, wait a minute, no, no,  I'm not doing it. Sin is dwelling in me. And then he goes on for I know that nothing good  dwells in me that is in my flesh. Now, if I do what I do not want. It's no longer I who do it, but  sin that dwells in me. And you might say, Well, sounds like he's trying to make an excuse.  He's trying to say, Well, I didn't really do it. But of course, there are those statements where  he says, Well, I did do it. I'm doing what I don't want. I'm not doing what I do want. But yeah,  it's not quite as simple as saying it's I. Because that's not the real I. Maybe, maybe a physical  comparison would help a little bit. Let's say, you've got a growth. And it just keeps growing  and growing and growing. And it's cancerous. Is that growth part of your body? Or isn't it?  Well it's obvious. It's part of your body, it's not out there somewhere. That is part of your  body. But it is not a part that belongs there. It's of your body. But it it's a bizarre, wrong  development of cells running out of control, and growing in a manner that's really not part of  how you're meant to be. And sin is like a cancer. It's a growth that in one sense, is part of you. And in another sense, isn't really part of the real you part of the body as it was designed to  be. And that's kind of what that flesh, as Paul uses it is like you've got the flesh, you've got  this cancerous, sinful thing. In one sense, it's you. In another sense. It's not. And if you're  confused, well, Paul said, I don't understand why I do what I do. So in one sense, it's a very  confusing thing. It's both me and not me at the same time. But it's helpful still to think about  it in those terms, even though they seem almost contradictory. Is it me? Isn't it me? Think of  yourself in in a sense, we have to a degree, a divided self, there is this poser? This fake self 

and sometimes that poser is constructed to present others a different self than we really are?  And that's something you know that hypoc, hypocrisy does. But there is this alternative self  claiming to be real be the real me the way I'm meant to be? And Paul says, No, that's a lie.  That Flesh is not the real me. It's not who I was meant to be. It's not who I want to be. And I'm not gonna beg off and say, I have no responsibility for what that false self is up to I you know,  there's a part of it that yeah, it is me, but it's not me. But the moment I agree, that that's the  real me. That's who I'm meant to be. That's when you're really in a world of hurt when you  make an agreement with your flesh, that the flesh is the real me. That's one of the great and  terrible disasters. of the homosexual rights movement in our own time, not so much just of  the movement, but of the thought that people who have fought something about themselves  for a while and have not won that battle, at last surrender and say, This is who I am, it is my  identity. It's the real me. And I take that only as one example, there are many others. There  are, there are people who get into their mid 50s. And they still got that same temper, they  still got that crotchety nasty attitude, and they say to themselves, if they recognize that at all, well, you know, that's just, that's just me. That's just the lovable, old, prickly me that  everybody adores and loves. Yeah. You, you learn to identify yourself with something of the  flesh that doesn't belong there. And you try to say that that cancerous tumor is a beauty  mark. You can't do that. And so in, in seeking God's law, we have a torn self, because we  realize that that law is telling us who we were meant to be. It's telling us who the real me  would be if I could just flourish and be my true self, as God created me to be as God  redeemed me to be. So recognizing the real I, that is so important, I don't understand what I  do. That's part of the struggle, I don't understand who I am. Nothing good lives in me, well, at  least not in my flesh. But I'm, if I'm doing what I don't want, then it's really not me that's  agreeing to do it. And you have, I do it. And I'm responsible. But it's not really me, even  though I am responsible. So don't try to resolve it by saying, Yeah, that's just the way I am,  I've got to come to terms with that. Never come to terms with that you're better off having  this struggle, this misery your whole life, then you are making peace with the flesh and just  deciding to get used to it. But here again, let me point out, you are delighting in God's law,  and you're facing your failures. And this is a two fold great advance over what happens in  many human lives, when you love God's law. And when you know, there are things wrong with you, and you recognize what those things are. And I've got news for you, as you progress  through the Christian life, and as the Holy Spirit helps you to make progress in some of those,  and some of those aspects of the flesh may actually be defeated to a great degree. Here's the bad news. The Holy Spirit will probably reveal more areas of your life that you weren't even  aware of yet more dimensions of your flesh that still need to be fought and defeated. So I  don't believe that this struggle ends until we're in glory. And I believe that God doesn't even  let us become aware of the whole struggle, because we would, we might be overwhelmed if  we saw the real, the real nastiness and depth and power of the flesh in our own lives. Or Be  that as it may. The fact is, it's a tremendous struggle to know why I do what I do. And it's a  very hard struggle to figure out who I am. So one thing you don't want to say is, that's just  me, that's the way I am, it's not going to change I, I am going to come to terms and get  comfortable with my flesh and define that as myself. Nothing you shouldn't do when you're in  this bind is say, that was just a slip. You know, I, overall, I have it together, that every once in  a while I make a mistake. I mess up. It's a lot more serious and a lot more deep and a lot more persistent than that. And you're not gonna be able to fight it successfully. If you  underestimate the power of the flesh in your own life and say that was just a little slip. And  something that with a little more effort and cleaning things up a bit, I'll be able to take care of because it just isn't that way. So you have this struggle of doing what I hate not doing what I  love, of not being able to figure out who I really am. But yet getting a growing sense of yeah,  that is who I really am. And as you move into Romans eight, you'll find out more of what the  Scripture says about our identity in Christ and who we are in Christ and who we are as filled  with the Holy Spirit. We're not meant to be stuck always in a Romans seven mentality. But  neither are we to tell ourselves I'm never going to have that kind of experience again in this  life. You will but there's a lot of times when you when you get dumped back into Romans  seven need to be lifted again by the Spirit and by Christ into Romans eight. So I find it to be a 

law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. so these two things are right there, I  want to do what's right. And evil is just sitting right there. For I delight in the law of God in my  inner being. But I see in my members, another law waging war against the law of my mind  and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. And they're the  members are the members of his body, but also just all of his capacities. And again, we have  these, these things that have become almost Well, I guess maybe that's a very good term for  it's second nature. It's not our true nature. It's not our designed or nature as we were meant  to be. But it is our second nature to do bad stuff. And that nature, that sinful nature, that  Flesh is warring against what an enlightened mind has begun to see as the truth. Christ has  begun to renew your mind, you're beginning to love God's law, and you're second nature is  still lurking and causing trouble for you. And so you have the law of the mind. And that's when your thinking is working properly, I can see what's good. God's law makes good sense. God's  word makes great sense the law of my mind, and when I got a new inner self, that God's  given me, a new heart. In fact, I recognize and love what's right. And there's this other law of  this second nature, the sin nature, the bad habits there, I find too often that my inner self  can't overcome that other second nature. And of course, one thing you'll notice in this  passage is that the apostle hasn't said much about the Holy Spirit. He hasn't said anything  about the spirit, except back in verse six of Romans seven, about living by the Spirit and not  just by the letter. So we're going to, this is not a situation you want to get stuck in  permanently. But it is one that you can find yourself sliding back into, and needing the  forgiveness of Christ and the Spirit to lift you out of again. And so you have this inner conflict,  and finally, the cry wretched man that I am Who will deliver me from this body of death.  Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord, so that I myself serve the law of God with my mind, though in my flesh with that second nature, I serve the law of sin. And who's going to  get me out of that? This is the cry, that is the prelude to rescue again, it's the cry, I won't  argue with those who believe that this may be a passage for those who haven't yet been  quite fully converted, who've been regenerated, but God hasn't yet finished a greater work of  His Spirit in their life, there's an element of truth to that in at the time of person becoming a  true Christian very often, they will sense for the first time how serious sin is how right God is,  and have this desperate longing to be made right with him. And then it just comes, thanks be  to God. There's the gospel there. There's the Lord Jesus Christ, and he's the one who rescues.  But it's also true that in our own experience, you get caught in this muddle where you're  doing what you hate, and not doing what you want, where you're confused about who you  are. And you're crying out and then that Gospel comes to you a fresh, did you think you only  had to get converted once? Well, in one sense, yeah, you're always justified and made right  with God forever. But in terms of being of repenting, and being rescued, you need to be  rescued again and again. And again, you need fresh Grace every day, you need to say again,  and again every day, thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. There's these two  selves, but they're not just duking it out with each other, there is Jesus Christ, our Lord. And  there is the Holy Spirit weighing in on the side of the true self. And so he is the one who can  deliver us from this body of death. By the way, these, if you want to get right down to it are  basically the first two steps of 12 Step programs, 12 Step programs, you know, try to work for  everybody, including non Christians and people of other religions and the like. They may be  helpful, but the origins and roots of the basic practices of the 12 step programs for dealing  with addiction did come from people who had their roots in Christianity. And the first step is to acknowledge that you are powerless to overcome the problem that you face. Oh, wretched  person that I am. That's really the first step when you're dealing with an addiction. And the  second is I gave my self over to God as I understand him, you know, that last phrase, while in  one sense, we always are dealing with God as we understand him, because there is no other  way to relate to him then as we know him To be, but there are some you know, to take that  well, then my higher power is this that or the other thing. But my point is here, for a Christian  too those two steps are the beginning of everything else and transformation in our lives that I  can't do it on my own. And that when I turn my life over to a greater power to the power of  the Holy Spirit, to the way of Jesus Christ, then I can make progress in being delivered. And I  think there is, you know, just to take Alcoholics Anonymous as one of the 12 step programs as

the original one. There's one thing that I think may be a mistake, although it may be essential at the early stage, and that is, my name is Dave, and I am an alcoholic. I am a little uneasy  with the I am part. You know, if you're phrasing it in prec, I'm not going to pick on it, you  know, sometimes you just got to get delivered and not get too picky about the phrasing. But  the phrasing might be better to say, my name is Dave, and the manifestation of the flesh in  my life is alcoholism. You know that, because I don't really want to say this is who I am. As for  the rest of your life, many of you if you have trouble with alcoholism, you you do have to say,  well, you know, my name is Dave and I probably am not going to be free from the attraction,  or the temptation of alcohol, the rest of my life. That's different maybe than saying, This is  who I am. This is definitive of my existence. I am a child of God, I am in Christ, Christ is in me, the Holy Spirit lives in me, that's who I am. And that poser, that fake old Flesh, that is part of  my nature, that's the part that is still tempted to be hooked all the time. And I better always  be aware of him because he's ready to pounce on me any time. So that you know, I think if  you're thinking about it with great exactness, that's probably a more accurate way to think  about it. This is who I am. And it's not alcohol or anything else, but Christ who defines who I  am. But I better be real clear about what my flesh is like, and about what its particular  tendencies. For me, alcoholism is not part of my flesh. You know, I'm not bragging, that's just  I've never been drunk. I don't like any of the alcohol I've tasted. Okay. I'm a hero. my flesh  takes different avenues of attack than alcoholism. For others. That is the big one. So, again,  when you listen to this message, I've given a few examples that you know, only 2-3% of the  population probably would the flesh would homosexuality be there might main manifestation  to flesh that's out to get them for 97% of the population, that may not be their big problem,  but they better not spend too much time saying, yeah, those 3% They're really, really, really  bad people. You know, we got bigger fish to fry than just knocking other people, you know,  who aren't struggling with the thing I have. So for me, it's not a great heroic thing that I don't  have to battle, homosexual desire, or alcoholism, those aren't my thing. But I do have my own things. And I need to be aware, more and more of what that Flesh is doing. And I know some  of those things. And unfortunately, those of you around me probably know some of them  better than I do still. But the point is this each of us has a manifestation of the flesh of that  fallen nature that drives us away from the direction that God's law wants us to go in that God  our Creator made us to be. Be aware of those. And don't be too eager to escape this cry,  wretched man that I am. The sooner you cry, wretched man that I am. The sooner you can  cry. Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord, because he delivers me from that  wretchedness. When we finish this part of Romans and move on to Romans eight. Of course,  there's a lot more exciting and in some ways, uplifting things to be said. But I don't believe in  shortcuts. We need to spend a little time with this struggle in Romans seven with the fact that we do what we hate, because otherwise we'll just never understand a big chunk of the  experience in our life. And we'll never be free until we face up to these things. Those are the  first two steps a wretched man that I am. Thanks be to God. He has the power that can  deliver me. Let's pray together. Dear Father, we thank you for telling us the truth about  ourselves and help us Lord, who are believers to be willing to face the truth about ourselves  that, that we're not always quite as rosy as we we ought to be or as we might claim to be.  And so we pray that you'll continue to work your way in us to humble us and help us to realize again how beautiful your way is and your will is and how far short we often fall of it and how  that flesh continues to harass and haunt us. And Lord then prepare us for the battle, that by  the spirit we may overcome the power of the flesh, that we don't just do it once for all that  each day a new we need fresh guidance and fresh power from your spirit. And so we pray for  that. We pray that you will grant us fresh grace. Help us not to give up in this battle, but  instead to know that we will prevail by the power of the Spirit of Christ within us, help us not  to give up on others, or to judge them too quickly or to write them off too quickly. We can't  understand sometimes why they do what they do. But then again, we can't understand why  we do what we do so help us to be merciful and gracious towards others who still struggle  with a divided self as well to lift up brothers and sisters in Christ who stumble and fall and  need to be restored again, from wretchedness, to lift up others too Lord who don't yet know  Christ, but in whom the word has begun to do a work and in whom the Spirit is bringing 

conviction of sin, Lord, help us to be tender and merciful to those who need your mercy and  to give you thanks always, for Jesus sake. Amen.

Last modified: Monday, January 3, 2022, 6:39 AM