Good Noah Bad Noah

My niece has a four year-old son named Noah. He has a smile that lights up his entire face and big, brown eyes that sparkle with joy, wonder, and at times, mischief. Noah is constantly on the go. His quest to explore his world and make new discoveries in this adventure of life is contagious and sometimes gets him into trouble. He is all boy.

Being the great mom that she is, my niece is diligent in her efforts to mold and shape Noah’s character. She teaches him that right choices are rewarded and wrong choices have consequences. In a recent attempt to avoid punishment for such a wrong choice, four year-old Noah came up with an astounding defense strategy.

“But mommy, I didn’t do it!” he reported. “The bad Noah in me did it. The good Noah told me not to do it but the bad Noah won this time.” Not bad for a four year-old, is it? His mother wisely suppressed her laughter and punished Noah (along with his two new friends, Bad Noah and Good Noah).

This is the stuff of which family legends are made. The story spread like wildfire through the extended family network and we all laughed until we cried. I imagine that Noah’s words will weave themselves into the fabric of family culture and be repeated at family birthday parties and holiday gatherings for years to come.

Noah’s recognition of the battle between the bad Noah and the good Noah may not have been effective as a punishment avoidance strategy but its value as an impromptu theology lesson for believers is right on the mark. In Romans 7:15-20, God’s word speaks directly to the internal warfare waged in the hearts and minds of born again believers – the battle between our renewed spirit and our natural soul.

The apostle Paul seems to “get it” when it comes to this intense struggle within. He writes, “What I don't understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can't be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God's command is necessary.
But I need something more! For if 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.
It happens so regularly that it's predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God's commands, but it's pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.
I've tried everything and nothing helps. I'm at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn't that the real question?
The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different. (Romans 7:15-25 MSG)


Wendy Hotchkin February 22, 2010  

That's my boy. :o)

What a great biblical message. As I was reading I was thinking ooh that's so me.

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