What to do When You Can’t Stop doing Something


We all have things about ourselves that we hate; things we do, things we think, things we feel and things in our past. We spend a lot of energy trying to change these things. We hope that something will be different tomorrow. Maybe we’ll magically stop looking at porn, stop being so desperate for love, stop feeling lonely, stop saying things at the wrong moment. Maybe that memory will finally go away.

So, we read our Bibles.

Struggling with sin is the normal Christian experience. Not because we don’t have power over sin, we do have power because of the work of Jesus on the cross in our place and rising from the dead. We have the power through the Holy Spirit to battle our sin and win, but we often lose.

In Romans 7, we see this struggle in Paul. Tim Keller lays this out as to why this is the present Christian experience:

  • In the beginning of chapter 7, Paul is talking in the past tense, in verse 14 he changes to the present tense.
  • In  7 – 13, Paul talks about sin killing him, he’s dead, but in verse 14 Paul begins talking about an ongoing struggle with sin. He is fighting sin, struggling but refuses to surrender.
  • In  18 Paul says “I know that nothing good dwells in me.” Those who don’t know Jesus are unaware of being lost and sinful. Without Jesus, we think we can save ourselves or are good on our own.
  • In  22 Paul says, “I delight in God’s law.” If you don’t know Jesus, you can’t delight in God’s law.
  • Keller concludes, “Often we repent of past sin and think it’s done, but God wants to show us how to hate it when the seeds come up again.”

To move forward in freedom, it is important to name, to confess, those things you do that you hate. Those struggles you battle with. To admit what dwells in you. Often we have an inflated view of our goodness, but to experience grace we must understand the depths of our brokenness. Otherwise, what do we need God’s grace and forgiveness for?

I think the process Paul walks through in this passage is instructive for us as we hate our sin:

  1. Do you hate your sin?
  2. Are you willing to fight your sin? To put things into place to win the battle against sin? This might mean you stop going to places, get rid of something, stop spending time with that person.
  3. Do you know how lost you are apart from the grace of Jesus?
  4. Do you delight in the law of God?

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