The subtlety of the mind/ thought and its relation to behaviour /attitude is one that fascinates . It has been proven that our actions can greatly be influenced by our mindset or what we think about.The bible says “ As a man thinketh ,so is he . This principle is simple and straight forward but at the same time it speaks of a general truth ;we are what we think . But does our thoughts always conform to our actions /behaviour ? of course not .
There could be dissonances and inconsistence with what we think and what we do. Sometimes we want to do somethings ,but we end up doing exactly the opposite , when that happens, we experience a state of mental conflict and discomfort known as cognitive dissonance .
Social psychologist refer to cognitive dissonance as the presence of incongruent relations among cognitions (thoughts and understanding ) which usually occurs when people hold two /more conflicting beliefs ,ideas or values that frequently results in excessive mental stress and discomfort .
The stress arises within a person who holds a belief but performs a contradiction action /reaction .
(source : wikipedia )
Leon Festinger ,the inventor of the theory proposed that when people exhibit behaviours which are inconsistent with their beliefs , they experience a discomfort called the cognitive dissonance . He said an example can be a smoke addict who despite knowing the dangers and harm smoke has on his health ,he overlooks them and goes ahead to smoke . He goes ahead to do what he knows will kill him .This shows the inconsistency between his behaviour ( a smoker ) and his cognition ( he knows smoking is harmful to his health )
Also when someone is forced to do something they actually don’t want to do ,dissonance is created between their cognition (I didn’t want to do it ) and their behavior (I did it) .
Cognitive dissonance is a very common discomfort which happens when there is inconsistence between what you want to do and the reality . There is a dissonance when we perform actions inconsistent with our beliefs (cognition ).
This I believe was what Apostle Paul experienced as he penned the text in Romans 7:15 . He said “I don’t understand what I do .For what I want to do ,I do not do but what I hate I do” .
Now Paul achieved a lot as an Apostle . He founded several churches in Asia Minor and Europe . Paul used his status as both a Jew and a Roman citizen to take advantage in his ministry to both Jewish and Roman audiences.
For many ,for a man like Paul to make those statements about himself simply surprises them .How can The man who had written about 13 books of the New Testament say such things about himself .But whether we like it or not ,Paul was not only crying for himself but was voicing out the struggle of every Christian ,that is, the struggle with sin .
I don’t understand what I am doing. For I don’t practice what I want to do, but instead do what I hate.
Have you ever thought to yourself why you do somethings even though you hate doing it ? Have you ever done something though you knew it was wrong ?Although that action is inconsistent with your beliefs ; Is as though another man lives within you who shrewdly cajoles you to do the very thing you know is wrong .
The unregenerate man is dead in sin , as a result of Adams fall .Every human being is therefore born spiritually dead . Due to this death ,we are naturally ;
1.Hostile to the the laws of God 2.Totally depraved
3.unable to follow God .
After salvation ,and after receiving a new life ,we still err and go contrary to God’s law .
We don’t do things we know we should do ,howbeit we hate the struggle and would like to live according to God’s word ,we don’t . We all struggle against sin,though we fail over and over again ,we still want to do better .Though we are forgiven and saved ,sin still dwells in our flesh .
The life of a Christian on earth is a continuous struggle with the flesh . There is therefore a contention between our Spirit (to do the right thing always )and the flesh (to do evil ) .
Here suffer me to quote the exact words of Paul in the book of Romans 7.
14 For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am merely human, sold as a slave to sin.
15 I don’t understand what I am doing. For I don’t practice what I want to do, but instead do what I hate.
16 Now if I practice what I don’t want to do, I am admitting that the Law is good.
17 As it is, I am no longer the one who is doing it, but it is the sin that is living in me.
18 For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but I cannot carry it out.
19 For I don’t do the good I want to do, but instead do the evil that I don’t want to do.
20 But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am no longer the one who is doing it, but it is the sin that is living in me.
21 So I find this to be a principle: when I want to do what is good, evil is right there with me.
22 For I delight in the Law of God in my inner being,
23 but I see in my body a different principle waging war with the Law in my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin that exists in my body.
24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is infected by death?
25 Thank God through Jesus the Messiah, our Lord, because with my mind I myself can serve the Law of God, even while with my human nature I serve the law of sin.
Apostle Paul describes himself as unspiritual ,a slave to sin ,a wretched man and a prisoner of the law of sin .His outburst created paroxysms of controversies as to if this passage referred to either believers or the unsaved .
It therefore begs the question “aren’t those words used to describe unbelievers ? Whether to believers or not ,the key to understand this passage ,is to first understand the two natures of a Christian .
THE SIN NATURE AND THE SPIRIT
Before the unregenerate man becomes saved ,his only nature is sin ,he is totally depraved in sin;he is a slave to sin . He sins because he is a sinner ,it’s his nature .And even after he receives Christ and becomes a new creation (2cor 5:17) he still lives in the old flesh which still has remains of past habits and sins . There is therefore a constant battle for dominance between our sin nature and the Spirit over who wins at pulling the believer to his direction .The spiritual nature drags him towards God and The fleshy nature pulls him towards disobedience and sin . The believer therefore wants to do the right thing but has something within that does not support what he wants to do and desires to do exactly the opposite .
Reckoning yourself dead :As Christians ,the power of sin has been broken in our lives . Hence when a Christian sins it is his willful act and not sins domination over him .
2.Rely on the Holy Spirit ;we can not be saved by grace and be sanctified by our own efforts. We must therefore rely on the Holy Spirit to do that .
Who will rescue me from this body that is infected by death?
What glad tidings for the undeserving,for Christ to come and die ,so those who believe In him will be saved and hence transformed .
When we put our faith in Christ we are set in a process of sanctification .
Do let me put this very plainly, Sanctification is a process and can never be complete -It is that which believers are conformed by the Holy Spirit into the image of Christ . Though some sins are easier to overcome immediately one is saved ,others are not .There is therefore the need for constant renewal of the mind .
Behold I am vile -job 40:4
Jesus Christ , our
Justifier ,didn’t come for the righteous and