Photo by Chad Runge / Creation Swap

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Battle Between Good and Evil

By: Agatha Villa on
What is it about human nature that causes us to do things that upon reflection we wonder why in the world do we do them?  We all have this problem, do we not?  In fact, when many of us make resolutions for a new year (as the one we have coming up,) would it be accurate to say that many of us break those resolutions within days, if not hours, of making them?

What about politicians?  Aren’t they always promising us the moon and then once they’re elected they do an about face and do something else?  Parents certainly can relate too.  Don’t parents always tell their children to do as they say and not as they do?  I’m sure there are parents that will say that’s different.  They’re adults; children aren’t old enough to understand.  While this may be true in some cases, the root of this surely has to be because even parents can’t live by the standards that they set.

Now how are we in our relationship with God?  Often we make promises and vows to change our ways, but do we really?  When things are bad, like losing a job, don’t we pray that if God helps us find a new job that we’ll be a better mom, dad, husband, wife, friend, etc.?  What about when God convicts us of sin, such as losing our temper?  Do we acknowledge our sin, confess it, and pray that God forgives us?  What then?  Do we end up in traffic and have someone cut us off and end up losing it?

How are you at honoring those commitments?  I do think that many of us are sincere when we pray to God.  But are we committed?  Sometimes commitments take sacrifice.  It requires us to sacrifice ourselves to honor those promises we’ve made.

So why is it that we have this problem?  Paul touches on this subject in Romans 7.  Look at this passage:

7 What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting. For apart from the law, sin was dead. 9 Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. 10 I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. 11 For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. 12 So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.

 13 Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! Nevertheless, in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it used what is good to bring about my death, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.

In discussing the law, Paul was confronted with the question regarding its purpose.  Prior to this, Paul was explaining how those who are in Christ are no longer bound by the law.  In celebrating this fact, it would be easy for Christians to conclude then that the law is evil.  I mean, if Christ died on the cross on our behalf so we can be free from the law (as only one of the reasons for His sacrifice,) it must be something that we desperately need to get away from; so it’s bad.  But the first thing Paul emphasizes is that the law is not sinful!  In fact, Paul tells us that the law has the purpose of showing us how sinful we are.  That’s an important point.  Sin needs to be shown as “utterly sinful” to help us understand what the end result of its influence is:  death!  And that’s what the law does.

Paul goes on to say that, in fact, the law is good.  Look at the next section in the passage:

 14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 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.

 21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

   So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

Paul goes on to explain that the law is spiritual.  In fact, in a previous post, C.S. Spurgeon was quoted as writing, “The law is holy, and just, and good; it is like the God who made it, it is a perfect law.”  The problem we have is that we are unspiritual.  Paul goes into the point that being unspiritual, we have the result of doing things that we don’t want to do even though we know we shouldn’t.  The amazing thing, though, is that because of what Christ did (remember, as believers we’re free from the law) is that sin doesn’t have the power over us anymore that it did before we came to Christ.  There are opposing forces at work at this point.  There’s this law “waging war” (as Paul puts it) against us, but then there’s this other law, the law that God writes on our hearts.  That is what C.S. Spurgeon was writing when he said:

[The believer] has the law of his God written upon his heart, so that, almost as soon as he looks at a thing, he begins to perceive whether there is evil in it or whether it is good. There is a sort of sensitiveness in his soul which makes him discern between good and evil. When God the Holy Spirit is dealing with him, there is a true, enlightened conscience within him, so that he no longer puts bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter, or darkness for light and light for darkness; but something within him tells him, "This is right," or, "That is wrong." It is a most blessed thing when this is the case, and it is always the work of the Spirit of God.

So, as in the case with Paul, let’s rejoice in God…Who through Jesus Christ has rescued us from the sin that is raging within us (in our old mortal selves.)  Is that it, though?  Certainly, when it comes to salvation, it’s all God.  He gives us faith, He delivers us, and He gives us this new life free from the law to live in the power of Jesus Christ.  So why do so many Christians struggle with doing the right thing?  Paul shows us, of course, that there are two forces at work within us, opposing each other.  But the key to help the good force, the one that wants to do good, is directly proportional to the time that we spend with God.  We shouldn’t expect God to fill us with His power and His Spirit if we spend no time with Him during the week.

There’s an analogy that seems to fit (though not taken from an exact Biblical perspective,) quoted from the blog at wizdompath:

One evening an old Cherokee Indian told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, ‘My son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.’

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: ‘Which wolf wins?’

The old Cherokee simply replied, ‘The one you feed.’

This is such a lovely story: so simple and yet so true. I think each and every one of us has these two wolves running around inside us. The Evil wolf or the Good Wolf is fed daily by the choices we make with our thoughts. What you think about and dwell upon will in a sense appear in your life and influence your behavior.

We have a choice, feed the Good Wolf and it will show up in our character, habits and behavior positively. Or feed the Evil Wolf and our whole world will turn negative: like poison, this will slowly eat away at our soul.

The crucial question is “Which are you feeding today”?

From a Biblical standpoint, are you being fed through the Word of God?  Are you spending time with God and allowing His Spirit to fill you and help you to live a life of victory?  That’s the key, you know.  Let’s all make a resolution this new year to make our relationship with God a priority.  Then let’s see which nature wins out.  I’m betting that the wretched man will lose and the Spirit-filled man wins!  Let’s all be winners in 2011!

HAPPY NEW YEAR…and may God bless each and every one of us in 2011.


  1. Thank you Dean for another well written message from the Word of God. It is my prayer that everyone will allow the Spirit of God to control their lives in this coming New Year. I know that I will be setting aside more time for Bible study and meditating on God's Word. Blessings my friend and may our Lord continue to give you the peace, joy and happiness that only He can give. Lloyd

  2. Lloyd -

    Thanks so much for your kind comments. I realize that I definitely need to spend more time with God knowing that by doing so I will be filled with the Holy Spirit. I think that's what it means to be filled by the Spirit. There's where the power lies to a victorious spirit-filled life.

    I hope you have a very blessed New Year in 2011 and that God continues to use you mightily for His purposes. God bless!

  3. Great message especially for a season of many promises. Thank God He keeps us even when we cannot keep our commitments.

    Glad you stopped by. Happy new year to you too friend.

  4. Hi Dean,

    I have enjoyed this journey through the book of Romans. Your words have offered encouragement, illumination, and a call to faithfulness. Months ago when I began this journey, I remember that you strengthened me with words of friendship, encouragement, and fellowship.

    I also look forward to what the Lord imparts through you as we continue this study of Romans.

    May we call on the name of the Lord to reveal His truth and our lives that we would seek an ever deepening relationship with Christ.

    I send new year hopes of joy and grace for you and family.

    Thank you for your friendship and brotherhood in Christ Jesus.

    Blessings and peace.


  5. One Heart -

    Thank you for stopping by and commenting. You're right, God is amazing and I'm thankful that He is gracious and merciful.

    Have a great week! God bless!

    MTJ -

    I hope you had a Happy New Year! I really am enjoying reading and writing through Romans. I'm glad that others are being blessed by it as well.

    I, too, am grateful for the friendship and fellowship and I look forward to the blessings every time I visit your blog. God is definitely at work in your writings.

    I hope you and yours have a very blessed New Year. God bless my friend.


  6. Dean I couldn't agree more nd when we put Christ first it's just naturl once you've committed your life and so much easier to enjoy this planet we're visiting. Love the picture it took my breathe away...Very similr blogs in feel so happy I found yours Patricia God Bless and may he keep you in His loving embrace always

  7. Patricia -

    Thank you so much for your visit and for your kind comments. I just found the picture online and I agree, it is breathtaking. Have a wonderful week. God bless!


  8. dean,
    great post. i kept thinking my way through romans 3 and galatians 2 & 3 while you were talking about romans 7. i have been reading them recently in parallel.
    great truth in that wolf story.
    quoting spurgeon? huh, i thought i was the only one left who heard of that guy. he was just a trouble maker on the back of the bus in grade school.
    may God continue to give you insight to His word and may He use you in a mighty way to reach the world.
    prayers 4 you,
    nikonsniper steve

  9. You do have the most thought provoking posts. Yes I need to spend more time with God. I know our children do not listen to well, reminds me of us with God!

  10. Hey, I just came across your blog by doing a bit of blog-surfing and I'm glad I did! I've added myself as your newest follower, and I hope you'll check out my Christian devotional site as well:

    Have a blessed day!

    In Christ,

  11. Dean, great Bible study as usual.
    I hope your new year is going well.

    God Bless :-)


  12. Stephen -

    Thanks you for the kind comments. I actually started looking at Spurgeon because my pastor quotes him sometimes in his teaching. Reading Spurgeon is a little difficult at times because his intelligence level is so much higher than mine.

    Kim -

    You're right of course. Our example does tend to have an impact on our children. Thanks for coming by and commenting. Hope all is going well with you and your family.

    Dakota -

    Hey Dakota! Thanks for checking out my blog and becoming a follower! I certainly will stop on by and visit yours as well. We can never have enough friends in the bloggosphere. :)

    Ron -

    Romans had definitely been a great study. I always look forward to what God has to share through this book. Hope your new year is going well too my friend.

    God bless!