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To Do or Not to Do

Today's Devotional

I do not do the good I want to do, . . . I keep on doing [evil]. Romans 7:19

When I was a kid, a decommissioned World War II tank was put on display in a park near my home. Multiple signs warned of the danger of climbing on the vehicle, but a couple of my friends immediately scrambled up. Some of us were a bit reluctant, but eventually we did the same. One boy refused, pointing to the posted signs. Another jumped down quickly as an adult approached. The temptation to have fun outweighed our desire to follow rules.

There’s a heart of childish rebellion lurking within all of us. We don’t like being told what to do or not to do. Yet we read in James that when we know what is right and don’t do it—it is sin (4:17). In Romans, the apostle Paul wrote: “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” (7:19–20).

As believers in Jesus, we may puzzle over our struggle with sin. But too often we depend solely on our own strength to do what’s right. One day, when this life is over, we’ll be truly dead to sinful impulses. Until then, however, we can rely on the power of the One whose death and resurrection won the victory over sin.

What sins are the biggest struggle for you? How can you rely more on God’s power to overcome their stronghold?

Loving God, please help me to choose to do what’s right. My heart’s desire is to reflect Your perfect character and holy ways.

For further study, read Crying for Us All: How Jesus Shares Our Grief.


Romans 7:14–25 has been a source of much debate in scholarship. Many have believed it describes Paul’s ongoing struggle with sin because it speaks in the present tense and uses the first person (“I”). However, it’s difficult to reconcile Romans 7’s description of being a “slave to sin” (v. 14) with the state of freedom from sin’s bondage described as a gift of the Spirit to all believers in chapters 6 and 8 (6:17–18; 8:1–2). Today, many scholars believe that Romans 7’s vivid description of doing “what I do not want to do” (v. 16) wasn’t describing Paul’s then-current personal struggle. Instead, he may have been using a literary technique of speaking in the present tense to dramatize the futility of seeking salvation through the law (8:3). It’s through the power of Christ’s Spirit that believers can experience freedom, life, and peace (vv. 1–3, 6, 10).

By |2023-03-30T02:33:03-04:00March 30th, 2023|
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