How many times have you done something, regretted that you have done it and then turned around and did it again? It could be something you said, something you thought or place you went. You get frustrated with yourself and ask, “Why did I do this again?” Proverbs 26:11 graphically explains why, “As a dog returns to his own vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.”
A dog, because of its voracious appetite, may eat something which upsets it and which, if the dog has feelings it will regret. But once it has vomited it up, it feels better and if nothing else is on offer, it may return to its vomit.
What do we learn from this? Temporary or false repentance is like this. We get so deep in our sin that it may disgust us. The effects of drunkenness, lust, gossip can eventually sicken us and make us wish that we had never entertained the temptation and we resolve to never do it again but if self disgust is our only motivation, then it is not repentance. It may make us feel better for a little while but ends up leaving us empty. The only way we can fill the void is to return to what satisfied us before thus the Proverb about a dog’s vomit.
The apostle Paul experienced much the same conflict in Romans 7. In Verses 15 – 17 he said: “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.” Verse 19 and 20 says: “For the good that I will to do, I do not do, but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it but sin that dwells in me.”
R. C. Sproul said: “If we know how much God hates our sin, and if we have affection for Him, we will not want to displease Him by sinning. We are however constantly bombarded with opposing ideas. The Scriptures set before us what God delights in, we read it and say ‘I want my life to be like that’ but the rest of the week we hear voices from every side that lead us to lose sight of what is pleasing to God. As we take in what is pleasing to our friends and to the culture, our delight in God begins to lose its passion.”
So what do we do? In Romans 7: 24-25 Paul said: “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!… What this teaches me is that no matter how much I struggle, God reached down in His grace and changed my desires. He changed our hearts from stone to hearts that beat with affection and set us free.
In Romans 6:11 which I have quoted often, Paul reminds us by saying: “Likewise you also reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” What this means is that sin is no longer our master. We can look at it this way, death did not have dominion over Christ for very long. As R. C. Sproul said: “He was vulnerable to death only because of the imputation of sin, but after He paid the price for our sin, death became powerless. The dominion of death was gone.” People say that Christ’s resurrection was impossible because they have never seen anybody come out of the grave. People die and stay dead, so people say that the resurrection could not have happened. That is not what Scripture teaches. The Bible says that death could not maintain dominion over Christ. Therefore, if Christ lives so do I. If He died to conquer sin, He conquered it in me. Let us realize that it is more fulfilling to be a slave of righteousness that it is to be a slave to our desires.