2008-08-22 - A Wretched Man
Originally Published 2002-05-30
Rom 7:19-25 For the good that I wish, I do not do; but I practice the very evil that I do not wish. 20 But if I am doing the very thing I do not wish, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. 21 I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wishes to do good. 22 For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, 23 but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin. (NAS)
How many of us know the mourning heart of Paul in this passage? "...but I practice the very evil I do not wish."
The more I know of the grace and mercy, and of the purity and holiness of God the more I see the stumbling, blind, pathetic form on myself. The more I learn of and understand the power of the forgiveness of the Lord of all Creation, the more I am mindful of how totally helpless I was to do anything to save myself. I was so blinded that I couldn't even see my need until it was shoved in my face by Jesus' sacrifice. Paul explained that to the Corinthians - to the natural man the things of the Spirit of God make no sense. They would not be considered because, to the natural mind, they are irrational (2 Cor 2:14).
I know Paul's struggle. Many of us do, I'm sure. At times the battle flares to mind-numbing proportions. And at alternate times, there is quiet and comfort from both friends and people I hardly know. Over the past few weeks I have received several short notes of encouragement after recent devotionals were published. It never ceases to amaze me how much these short messages mean. And even more staggering that God has put me in this place where I have a little soap box to speak about the things that have touched my heart and mind over the last week.
There is no doubt in my mind that God has blessed me with many things from true friends and family, to a strong mind and body, and financially as well. I am not wealthy by American standards but I know where my next meal is likely to come from and it is easy to fall into the trap of taking things, like this computer, for granted. And I then am reminded of the time that I waste and the times I don't tell my friends how important they are to me, and again I am a humbled man.
I don't find this state of mind depressing. It is more instructive I'd say. It refocuses me to my own limits and finite nature, and the infinite nature of God and His limitless attributes - which include His grace, mercy and forgiveness. Without these three things, we are truly wretched men and women - beyond any thought of redemption with only eternal condemnation to look forward to for all eternity. But because of these three things, Jesus came to earth, died a criminal's death in our place and rose again - for wretched, helpless humanity - for you and for me.
Lord Jesus - In these times were our limits are in focus, we catch a glimpse of the limitless nature You have. Thank You for reaching down to help us, when we could not help ourselves and didn't even know we needed help; while we were still Your enemies. Amen.
Grace & Peace,