Why Do I Do What I Don’t Want to Do?

“I just want to stop! I don’t want this anymore, but I don’t have control over this whole situation!”

These are the comments I hear from people who are seeking counseling. There is a sense they feel “stuck” and are not able to move forward in their past. Because living in the past impacts the present and hinders people from moving forward into the future. 

Paul struggled with this idea. “For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” (Rom 7:14-15).

So, why do people do what they don’t want to do? I believe we do what we don’t want to do because our hearts listen to the wrong counsel based on the desires of our hearts. 


Where Does Wisdom or Counsel Often Come From? 

I immediately think of five ways people gather information. In the early church, this was the order in which people gather information. 

  1. Local Church 
  2. Family Unit 
  3. Educational System 
  4. Social Peers 
  5. Media Outlet 

What has happened today? The whole system has gone upside down as people have, “exchanged the truth about God for a lie” (Rom 1:25).

1. Media Outlet 

I saw a 2022 survey conducted where statistics showed the average daily screen time is 8 hours and 39 minutes for teenagers ages 13–18 years old. We live in a generation where people no longer use social media, but social media is using people and infiltrating the mind with “junk”  

2. Social Peers 

I see my children (Generation Alpha) and where do they get their dating advice from? Their kind-minded friends are as confused as they are. As Proverbs 13:20 encourages believers to, “not to be a companion of fools” which is important for the young generation. 

3. Educational System 

In the post-modern era, school teachers or “football” coaches are often the ones who have the greatest impact on individuals. 

4. Family Unit 

Often when we watch children’s TV shows, who are the heroes? The children are. Where are the parents? They are absent or simply just an idiot (watch the Simpson and you know what I mean). 

5. Local Church 

This is not even in the equation anymore. The Bible is archaic and too “old school” Back in the day, Hollywood would approach religious leaders and ask for their feedback, “What do you think if this movie would be received by the church?” The truth is, we no longer live in Israel anymore, we live in Babylon at this point. 


How Can I Know God’s Will for My Life? 

First, it may be good to begin to spend time with God by having regular quiet time with him. Scripture is sufficient for all life and manner (2 Pet 1:4). The Bible must guide our everyday life as we walk in the Word of Life. 

However, what about decisions that are not so black and white? What should I do that I know can have some flexibility? 

As a pastor and counselor, the area of the question of guidance is often where our lane meets. How should Christians navigate through guidance? As Christians, we know Scripture speaks both directly and indirectly by implication and prescriptively in the everyday circumstances of life. 

Rather than the method the world seeks wisdom, Christians should follow God’s will in practices by applying biblical principles as the following. 

  1. Scripture 
  2. Prayer 
  3. Godly counsel 
  4. Circumstance 
  5. Reasoning 
  6. Peace 

Based on those categories several questions I ask are

(1) Is this question based on a “right” or “wrong” answer? 

(2) Where does the problem lie in the spectrum of “wisdom” or “foolishness” in solution? 

(3) Would this be an issue that must be dealt with “now” or “later” matter? 


Does All That I Do Focus on for the Glory of God?

The apostle Paul wrestled with this very topic when dealing with a “divisive” issue in the church. “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. (1 Cor 10:23). Therefore, anything as we think of decision-making in life, must come back to the reality of, “whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Cor 10:31). 

That is a question that often ought to be asked! Does what I think, what I feel, what I do glorify the Name of my Lord? I believe that question alone can become a wise counsel that can eliminate 90% of the issues dealt with in life. 

At the same time though, as a pastor and counselor, whom I often seek counsel, I personally am careful of giving counsel that can often morph into “legalism” The Puritan John Owen spoke words of wisdom in this matter, “Only what God has commanded in his word should be regarded as binding in all else there may be liberty of action.” 

Man’s law often only produces joyless legalism and lifeless moralism. 

So how can you know God’s law? Listen and lean on the Lord Jesus Christ. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight paths.” (Prov 3:5-6).  

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