I do not understand what I am doing. For I do not practice what I wish, but I do what I hate.
Satan knows that we have sinful tendencies, and he tries to induce us to cater to them. It then becomes a formidable challenge to maintain our integrity. Consider the case of a person who becomes so absorbed in the pleasure of the moment that he ends up doing something wrong that he thought he would never do. What led up to this sad situation? Likely, the individual had gradually been losing sensitivity to Jehovah’s voice. Either he failed to notice the warning signs regarding what was happening to his heart or he chose to ignore them. For example, he might have stopped praying, slowed down in the ministry, or started missing meetings. Eventually, he succumbed to his desire and did what he knew was wrong. We can avoid such a disastrous mistake if we remain alert to any warning signs and act immediately to correct matters.
According to Paul avoiding sin is impossible, because not only do we have sinful tendencies, as the Watchtower states, we are active sinners. There is nothing that we can do about it. No amount of prayer, meeting attendance or field service can change our nature.
To be sure, though, we can avoid gross sins. We can flee from fornication, for example, as the apostle exhorts. To resist sin may be torturous, like cutting off one’s own hand or foot or plucking out one’s own eye, as Jesus illustrated. But we cannot avoid all aspects of sin. It is as much apart of our being as our own personality and constitution. To be a sinner and a Christian makes us hypocrites by default. It is a pitiable condition. And that was what Paul was talking about when he said: “For I do not practice what I wish, but I do what I hate. However, if I do what I do not wish, I agree that the Law is fine. But now I am no longer the one doing it, but it is the sin that resides in me. For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, there dwells nothing good; for I have the desire to do what is fine but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good that I wish, but the bad that I do not wish is what I practice. If, then, I do what I do not wish, I am no longer the one carrying it out, but it is the sin dwelling in me.”
Paul was not making excuses for his actions or inaction. He was simply laying bare our helpless condition. The reality is, everyone who wishes to live a godly life finds themselves at war, not only with the demons and the world, but with their own self! Paul explains: “I really delight in the law of God according to the man I am within, but I see in my body another law warring against the law of my mind and leading me captive to sin’s law that is in my body.”
Is there a solution to this inner conflict? Thankfully, yes. Paul went on to write: “Miserable man that I am! Who will rescue me from the body undergoing this death? Thanks to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So, then, with my mind I myself am a slave to God’s law, but with my flesh to sin’s law.”