OJ, Jekyll, Hyde & Romans 7

OJ Simpson was a football player that I admired as I watched him play first in his college days at USC winning the Heisman trophy and later with the Buffalo Bills when he broke the single season rushing record running for over 2000 yards.
Then after his pro football career as he became an actor, starred in many TV commercials, and became a seemingly happy-go-lucky, vivacious commentator for ABC Sports, life seemed to definitely be going his way as he continued to be in the media limelight.
So I was as stunned as anyone else when he was accused of murdering his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman back in 1994.
At first I thought, "A person of the stature of OJ Simpson could not possibly have done the things he's being accused of".
But since that time evidence has surfaced that makes it very difficult to imagine a scenario that would rule out OJ's involvement in these crimes.
So the question I'm left with is, "How could someone of OJ's position and means ever get himself into the hideous mess he finds himself in today?" Everyday I try to read at least one chapter of the Bible for my daily Bible devotional.
Today I was scheduled to read Romans 7.
This had always been one of the hardest chapters in the Bible for me to understand until I read a little book written years ago by Robert Louis Stevenson entitled, "The Mysterious Case of Dr.
Jekyll and Mr.
In the book Dr.
Jekyll is a well respected physician in London in the late 1800's who decides to test his theory of the dual nature of man (man being a combination of good and evil natures coexisting within the same body) by developing a potion and secretly experimenting on himself to see what the results would be.
The results were that by taking the potion, the highly esteemed Dr.
Jekyll turned into an entirely different person both in appearance and in character known as Mr.
No one even remotely suspected that Mr.
Hyde was in any way associated with Dr.
As Hyde, Dr.
Jekyll lived the free and fleshly life of his evil side.
Each time, as the potion would wear off, Mr.
Hyde would morph back into the good and moral Dr.
As time went on and the experiment continued, Mr.
Hyde became increasingly more deviant until he finally clubbed an elderly man to death.
In the end Dr.
Jekyll wound up taking his own life as he realized that Mr.
Hyde had become more and more out of control and he had essentially created a monster.
What does all of this have to do with Romans 7? In Romans 7 the Apostle Paul outlines this same concept that we all struggle with.
The concept that although most of us sincerely desire to do the good and right thing, all too often we wind up doing the wrong thing.
The Message Bible says it this way: What I don't understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise..
I know the law but still can't keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don't have what it takes.
I can will it, but I can't do it.
I decide to do good, but I don't really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway.
My decisions, such as they are, don't result in actions.
Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.
(Taken from Romans 7:14-20 in The Message Bible) So the question is not, "Why did OJ do what he did?" The question is, "Why do I do the things I do?" And, "Why do you do the things you do?" The answer is just as Romans 7 points out, we all have an evil nature within us that we have to deal with.
The more we feed the evil nature or "flesh", as some versions of the Bible refer to it, the bigger it grows.
In the normal Christian life not only do we starve the flesh by making no provision for it (Rom 13:14) but we also put it to death in that we kill the flesh (old man) when we join with Jesus by being baptized into His death (Rom 6:3-7).
That's what baptism by being dunked under water is all about.
When a person gets covered up by water in baptism it is a symbol of dying, being covered up like a dead body when it is lowered into a grave.
The person being baptized is symbolizing death to their flesh, old life and evil nature as they are in a sense joining Jesus in His death which He died to get rid of the sin of the whole world.
So if you struggle with the fact that you're not perfect, you make bad decisions, you blow it - hey, join the crowd.
Don't beat yourself up about it.
God knows our dilemma and He has made provision for it by sending His perfect Son to the cross to wipe out our inconsistencies.
All He asks is that we believe this and accept the whole package as a free gift.
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