I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, 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. Romans 7:15-20 (NIV)
The most profound illustration I have ever heard to explain the passage of Scripture above is one I heard from my father. A Native American chief was asked to comment on his new life in Christ. This is what he said to describe his new-found awareness of his struggle with sin:
"It's as though I have two dogs fighting inside of me all the time. One dog is evil. The other dog is good."
"Which dog wins?" the man asked the chief.
"The one I feed," was the chief's simple reply.
Lord, which dog is winning inside of me today? That conversation I choose to participate in that is not honoring to the other person, the jealous thoughts I feast on, the magazines and television shows that provide images that cause discontentment all feed my sinful nature. Or maybe I have just become too busy to meditate on Your Word lately. A steady diet of these activities will quench your Holy Spirit's power inside me.
Help me, Jesus, to starve those base desires that do not bring You the glory You deserve. Instead, may I be submissive to my Master's commands. May I learn to hear Your voice and obey immediately, in spite of whatever temptation may be in my sight. I don't want to beg from anyone else's table. And no matter how hungry my soul may be, may I not go searching in the garbage, but wait to be fed by You. May nothing bring me more joy than to be in Your presence, being still at Your feet. May You take the lead as I trust in Your goodness, although I don't always know the destination You are taking me to.
I know that I will continue to struggle with my sinful nature until the day I no longer take a breath. It is Satan's lie to me that I won't. Still, I hear You calling to me in Your quiet, non-condemning way,
"Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and your soul will delight in the richest of fare." Isaiah 55:1-2 (NIV)
May I choose carefully which dog gets fed today.