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15 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.


Beginning at verse 15, Paul protested his personal slavery to the sin capacity of the previous verse.

15 For

The “for” here describes what it means, from the previous verse, to be “sold under” the sin capacity.

what I am doing, I do not understand.

Paul did not understand why he did what he did. The sin capacity has some dynamics that he did not fully grasp. He did not fully comprehend the dynamics of why he continued to sin as he did as a Christian.

For what I will to do, that I do not practice;

There was a difference between Paul’s volition and what he practiced. He received a new capacity at his spiritual birth, but his old capacity continued to exercise its influence on him. Acting contrary to his convictions indicated the domination of the sin capacity in his life.

but what I hate, that I do.

It is not what he willed but what he did that Paul hated. The very thing that Paul despised, that he did. “Hate” is a term of disowning; he disowned the idea of his sin capacity dominating him.

The point of Paul’s argument in this verse is that he was not completely free of sin by becoming a Christian. The sin that he did shows that he was not free. He did not try to justify this problem but simply stated it.


The nature of the ongoing, countervailing power of the sin capacity requires the believer to depend on another counteracting force for Christian living.


The Christian cannot live the Christian life by means of the law. The countervailing force of the sin capacity is too strong and overpowering for the believer to live the Christian life in his own power. He needs another offsetting force—the Holy Spirit. Christian living under the law without the power of the Spirit is a futile endeavor. Both the sin capacity and the Holy Spirit indwell the Christian. The Christian determines by his volition which one will control his life.

All of us find an echo in our souls of the spiritual struggle Paul went through. We are all divided as to whether we want to depend on the self or the Spirit to live the Christian life.