What’s Wrong with Me?
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Romans 7:18-19
Most of the addicts I meet – in treatment or jail – desperately want a different life. They’re tired of the misery and if you ask if they’re ready for recovery, you will get an enthusiastic “Yes”. Sick of the old life, they very much want to quit using drugs and to build a new life. If you don’t understand addiction – and maybe even if you do – it’s quite maddening then, to see many of them return to drug use when they leave treatment or jail.
What’s wrong with you? I thought you wanted to change. Why don’t you stop this asinine behavior? This, of course, is the hallmark of addiction – repeating the same mistakes over and over, despite the obvious and harmful consequences. It’s not that the addict doesn’t want life to be different. The problem is that he has a disease of his brain that causes him to return repeatedly to his toxic, self-destructive ways, even when he knows it’s completely antithetical to the life he truly wants.
This is apparently nothing new. In today’s passage, Paul eloquently and painfully expressed his frustration with his own dark nature. Crying out, he said that he longed to do good, but his terrible flesh nature hungered for the opposite. He knew what was right, and he desired to do it, but inexplicably, he repeatedly chose evil. What’s wrong with me? Paul understood addiction.
If we’re honest, we can all identify with today’s passage. It’s highly unlikely that we’re better Christians than Paul. This isn’t just about drug addiction. We’ve all got self-destructive desires, thoughts, and behaviors that we know we should simply quit. We’ve likely tried, promising ourselves over and over that we’ll never do it again.
What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I change? The reason is that, since the fall of man, our nature is broken. We’ve all got a disease of the brain called a sin nature. The drug addict’s struggle may be more obviously destructive, but if we’re honest, we understand why the addict fails over and over. He fails repeatedly because he’s human. We may not all have the same flaws, but we all struggle, and we all fail, because we too, are human.