What I want to do, I do not do!

Romans 7:  15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 

Few sports fans would know the name Dr. Steve Peters, but he is arguably responsible for more British medals than any other man.  Dr. Peters, a psychiatrist, helps athletes overcome psychological challenges to become world-beaters. British cycling phenom Victoria Pendleton wrote: “without his help, I would never have achieved my career triumphs.  I wouldn’t have been world champion once, let alone nine times, and then go on to win two Olympic gold medals.” https://www.ft.com/content/ffc9a0de-0c95-11e6-b41f-0beb7e589515.  Additionally, Dr. Peters has been crucial in the success of cyclist Sir Chris Hoy, five-time world snooker champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, and soccer great Steven Gerrard and his Liverpool team.

Dr. Peters’ claim to fame is his development of a theory called the Chimp Paradox.  His book The Chimp Paradox: The Mind Management Programme to Help You Achieve Success, Confidence and Happiness, is a best seller.  Dr. Peters translates complex brain functioning into terminology that the average person can understand.  His basic premise is that there is a part of our brain, which he calls the Chimp (the limbic), which is at battle with the Human (the frontal).  The Chimp is an emotional machine that thinks independently from us and if we don’t manage it, it can wreak havoc on our lives.  In contrast, the Human represents everything we really desire and it searches for facts and desires to establish truth. The third part of the brain, the Computer, simply does what it is told, either by the Chimp or the Human.  As the Chimp is five times stronger than the Human, simple will-power will never overcome the Chimp.

An athlete who is able to master a skill or performance in practise, but is unable to reproduce it under the pressure of competition, is likely being dominated by their Chimp instead of their Human.  Dr. Peters assists athletes, and actually anyone, to manage their inner Chimp to maximize their performance and happiness.

As I read Dr. Peter’s book it so reminded me of the Apostle Paul’s writings in Romans 7.  To me, this passage is one of the most encouraging passages in the Bible because it so accurately sums up the conflict that often rages in my head.  Take the time to read the entire chapter of Romans 7, but verse 15 sums up the dilemma: I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.  How often have you felt that way?  Perhaps you have outbursts of anger, or you say careless things.  Perhaps you lack discipline in eating, sleeping habits, or sexual self-discipline.  You don’t want to be doing what you are doing, but some other force inside of you is having victory.    If you keep reading, however, into Romans 8 you will see that we are not left powerless to fight this other power raging inside of us.  Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8: 1-2).  We can learn significantly from books like Dr. Peters’, especially in the area of discipline and performance, but ultimately, we need to recognize that there is a spiritual battle raging inside of us, and the Holy Spirit desires to take control of your life.  Commit today to allowing God to take captive all your thoughts and truly change you.

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