Wretched Person that I Am – blog
There is a passage in Romans 7 that most of us know very well. In that passage, Paul is describing his struggle with his sinful nature or flesh. I can actually remember the first time I read it back in the summer of 1973. I was a fairly new believer and worked a construction job building houses. I was the gofer and my job was to carry the materials for the house from where they were dropped off to the place on the job site where they were needed.
I remember my boss, a short Irishman named Jimmy O’Day barking commands to me of what was needed and what I had to do. We had already done the mason work for the four basement walls of 8” by 12” inch cinder blocks and it was time to put on the floor joists. We used 2 by 12’s that were 20 feet in length and he called them Be No boards. When I asked him why he called them Be No boards he said; “Because after you have spent all day carrying those boards there would;
“Be No partying that night.”
He was right and by the end of the day, I was exhausted. So, I would come home, eat dinner and then go up to my room, lay on my bed, read my bible and go to sleep. On one of those evenings, I read Romans 7. Verse 15 really grabbed my attention;
“For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.”
Wow, did that ever ring true. Even as a new believer I was still struggling with looking at porn and acting out since I had been doing that for about 5 years. I was not doing what I wanted to do, glorify God, and kept doing what I did not want to do. Then I read verse 24;
“Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?”
Now sometimes when we are reading the Bible the words jump off the page at us. Earlier this year, 45 years since I first read that passage one word jumped off the page at me. It was that word “AM.” Paul uses the present tense which means that he was describing his present situation. He says “Wretched man that I AM.”
Wait a minute. This is the Apostle Paul, writing the book of Romans. He was this incredible man of God, planting churches all over Asia Minor, writer of most of the New Testament and he says in the present tense that he is a wretched man. In the entire passage of Romans 7:14-25 he is speaking about himself in the present tense.
The only sin that he mentions that he struggled with was “coveting” in verse 7. Coveting is mentioned and is the 10th of the 10 commandments. It was lusting after your neighbor’s house, wife, manservant or woman servant. Plus, he says he struggled with;
“But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind;”
The Apostle Paul says he struggled with coveting of every kind. I fully believe that even the Apostle Paul struggled with lust to the degree that he says; “…wretched man that I AM.”
Now Paul knew how to be filled with and walk in the Spirit. He knew he was battling against the powers of darkness and daily wore the full armor of God. However, there was in him, as there is in us, the sinful nature and it was that part of him that he is calling wretched. Then he says;
“Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
Now, this is important. He openly says that there is this part of him that is wretched. He has already identified that it is his flesh or his sinful nature that is causing him to still struggle with sin. But concludes this revelation about his wretchedness by giving thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Listen, neither you, Paul or anyone else in Christ is free from this internal battle. We sin because we have a sin nature. We sin because we live in a fallen world that offers us sexual sin at any time and any place. We sin because we are up against demonic forces of evil. BUT thanks be to God through our Lord Jesus Christ that His Spirit lives inside of us and He can give us the power when we are living in a community of others where we can both give and receive help.
Still in isolation … why? It is the reason you are still struggling.