Summary: St. Paul describes the daily battle inside of each Christian.
Between the two World Wars, while Adolph Hitler was in prison, he wrote a book. Now I have absolutely no desire to read this book, because among other things it outlines the very atrocities that the Nazis would commit before and during WWII. But one thing about this book that I do want to talk about, it’s name. Many of you I’m sure already know the name of Hitler’s book, it was entitled, "Mein Kampf" German for "My Struggle" or "My Fight."
Now there are not a whole lot of similarities between Hitler and St. Paul, who wrote our text for this morning. But if Paul was to place a title on this section of Scripture, he might very well have called it "Mein Kampf" "My Struggle" "My Fight." However, the thing that Paul was fighting was not to get some twisted ideas out into the world. Rather, his fight was the struggle against the sin that controlled his life more often than he liked.
We also have a struggle with sin, don’t we? I mean, St. Paul wasn’t describing something unique to him. Each of us could put ourselves in the situation Paul is talking about: struggling with sin. Trying to master it when many times it masters us instead. So this morning, let’s study this war that is going on inside of you, and let’s see how that war is won.
Do these words sound familiar at all? "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate, I do. I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do - this I keep on doing"? Are these words a pretty good summary of your life? You know the right thing to do. You know what the God-pleasing thing is to do, but so many times you end up the opposite evil thing. Why is that? Paul answers that question: "it is sin living in me that does it." The picture that Paul paints is that there is a foreign power that doesn’t really belong to him that to a degree controls his actions. This foreign power is sin.
I want you to imagine that when you wake up tomorrow morning, you go through your normal routine. You brush your teeth, you shave, you shower, and as you are getting dressed, you notice something is not quite right. Your shirt doesn’t fit right. You look in the mirror and you realize to your horror that during the night, another head has grown out from your left shoulder. The facial features of this second head looks somewhat like you, but overall this is one disgusting head. Only one of it’s eyes work, the other one is dangling out of the socket. The hair is oily, matted down, and reaks of manure. The teeth are rotting away. And if all that wasn’t bad enough, you notice that sometimes this grotesque head has control over your actions and your words.
Though this might sound like a far-fetched possibility that this could happen, in reality, it already has happened to you. The only difference is that this ugly head that tries to control your actions isn’t so obviously seen. What we are picturing as a grotesque head, the Bible calls our sinful nature. This is the ugly side of us. The sinful nature is pure evil. Paul says, " I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature." When you sin, it’s totally the responsibility of your sinful nature. When you do right, it’s totally the work of the Holy Spirit working in your what we call the New Man, the thing that God gives the Christian to replace this ugly head. This is a struggle of total good vs. total evil, and it’s going on inside of you.
Who usually wins? Which head controls you when you’ve been wronged by another person, let’s say even another Christian has wronged you? What’s your reaction? Is it to get even, to hate, to let anger fester in your heart against another person? That’s the grotesque head controlling you. Maybe this head fills you with feelings of lust for someone who is not your spouse. This is the head that says to you, "aw, drink a few more. Go on, talk to someone about how another person really bothers you. You need to vent your frustrations, even if that means tearing down another person behind their back."
When you find youself carrying around these kinds of thoughts and attitudes, and saying these kinds of words, remember who’s controlling you at that point: it’s your disgusting sinful nature. And remember what this ugly head is trying to do: to drag you down to hell. And remember how those types of actions not only sadden but also anger the Holy God who is not bashful in his condemnation of those kinds of sins in your life.