This morning’s devotion comes from Todd Brewer.
Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.
I grew up watching Saturday morning cartoons and one of my favorite cartoons was G.I. Joe. After a 30-minute adventure of search and rescue, the end of the show would inevitably bring with it a new moral to learn. The show always ended with the saying “Now you know, and knowing is half the battle.” The first chapter of Romans quite differently defines immorality as independent of knowledge. Merely knowing right and wrong does not work to persuade or dissuade.
Often times I think back on past mistakes and think of how foolish I was. In retrospect I realize how myopic my decision-making was, or how blinded I was by ambition or selfishness. I often think “If only I had known then what I know now,” then things would be different. If I’m truly honest, I know that knowing more doesn’t guarantee that I would act differently. In fact, most times I know the possible consequences of my actions and I still make the same mistakes.
For instance, I know that eating large amounts of ice cream with brownies is going to make me fat. I know that the food pyramid recommends that I eat some 6-8 fruits and vegetables each day. Yet on days when I am particularly stressed, try to stop me from heading to the freezer and the microwave. I don’t think I’m alone here–it is not that the troubled teenager, the deceitful banker, the alcoholic, the rude neighbors do not know the right thing to do; the right thing to do is beyond their reach. Or as a friend of mine put it “It’s not that I don’t know what to do, it’s that I can’t do it.”
In the same way, St. Paul understands that sins do not occur from a lack of knowledge, but because of a sinful heart. I sin because I am a sinner and can’t help myself. I am powerless against both my rational and subconscious impulses to look out for myself.
More knowledge, understanding, or wisdom will not be our knight in shining armor. It is not enough to know the difference between right and wrong. What we need is for the Savior to rescue us from ourselves.