Not My Fault
Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. Romans 7:20
It’s not uncommon for the addict to blame his behavior on some struggle in an effort to relieve himself of responsibility. The addict in fact, often does use chemicals to relieve some stressor – childhood trauma, depression, anxiety, or poor self-esteem. Whatever it is, the addict self-medicates, temporarily relieving the negative emotion or feeling. Sometimes then, the addict will use that stressor as the focal point of responsibility. I wouldn’t drink if I wasn’t so anxious . . .
I also had my reasons for using. My knee hurt. I struggled with insomnia. Pain medications certainly did temporarily help with those things. The temptation then, was to blame those conditions for my addiction. I wouldn’t use if I could sleep better. It’s not my fault.
In today’s passage, the apostle Paul almost sounded like he was making excuses. I don’t think he was, but he did say that it wasn’t him who committed evil, but rather, it was the sin nature within him. Paul, I believe, was pointing out that even though we truly want to do what’s right, there’s this dark part of us that still wants to do what’s wrong. We’ve all got that thing. We all think, do, and say things we wish we didn’t. We want things to be different, but there’s a part of us that seems to make us do those things we don’t want to do.
Paul’s problem is our problem. That destructive thing dwells in us. That thing is part of us. That means that, like it or not, we’re responsible for dealing with it. We may not be responsible for having this dark nature, but we’re responsible for the behavior that flows out of it and we cannot use our flawed nature as an excuse for self-destructive behavior.
I did have knee pain and insomnia. That may not have been my fault, but that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t responsible for my subsequent actions. In my addiction, it would have been totally appropriate to address my knee pain and my sleeping problems, but that didn’t mean I’d automatically find recovery. I still had to deal with my addiction.
We must address the underlying flaws that have led to our self-destructive behaviors, but we cannot use those flaws to excuse us from responsibility. Those flaws are a part of who we are and only we are ultimately responsible for our actions.