Why do you do what you do? Have you ever asked yourself that question in frustration after you did something that you knew you shouldn’t—or that, down deep, you really didn’t want to do?
Well, of course, the first answer to that question is that you are a sinner. Even if you have come to faith in Christ and have been saved you will continue to sin—even against your better intentions. There still is corruption in you.
Paul faced this problem himself. In the seventh chapter of Romans he deals with it. He says that he does the things he doesn’t want to do, and fails to do those things that he wanted to do. Not all of the time, of course, but frequently enough to speak in exasperation about it.
Paul located the problem in his body (which, of course, includes the brain—everything that dies and goes into the ground is body). Not in any Gnostic sense. Rather than think that evil is an essential trait of all things material, which the Gnostics believed was the source of such problems, he held it was the habituation of the body toward sin prior to becoming a believer that he carried over from his former life.
Paul speaks of having once become an obedient slave who yielded the members of his body to sin as a master over him. Then, when he was saved, he was freed from slavery to sin. But he found himself going back to the old ways that had become habituated in him. Now, he says that as he once yielded his bodily members to sin, he was learning to yield them to God for righteous purposes. He wanted his body to become an efficient, well-trained instrument in the Lord’s service.
As he prayerfully yielded his members to righteousness, the Lord enabled him to put off the old ways in order to replace them with the new ones. When he cried out, “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” he was quick to answer his own question—the Lord Jesus Christ will! He was now yielding to his new Master and asking Him for grace and mercy to develop a well-trained body that would be available for service to his new Master.
When you struggle with this problem, turn again to Romans 7 and 8 and find the solace and assistance necessary to put on God’s new ways. For further help in this matter, see my book, Winning the War Within.