He Loves Me Anyway

“O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”

– Romans 7:24

“He knows me… This is momentous knowledge… There is tremendous relief in knowing that his love to me is utterly realistic, based at every point on prior knowledge of the worst about me, so that no discovery now can disillusion him about me, in the way I am so often disillusioned about myself, and quench his determination to bless me.”

— J.I. Packer

Even the great Apostle Paul was aware of his own weaknesses. Consider this; Even after the Lord Himself appeared to Paul in a blinding light on the Damascus Road, Paul he struggled with his old fleshly nature. Listen to what Paul wrote about himself. “For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do” (Romans 7:14&15). Note, Paul is speaking in the present tense. He doesn’t say “I was” but “I am.” He goes on to say, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells . . . For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice” (Romans 7:18&19). When the full weight of Paul’s dilemma bore down on him and his powerlessness to change himself, he cried out, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24).

Paul’s cry is the cry of all men. And it’s an important cry. As much as it is unpopular in today’s feel good, politically correct society, it’s imperative to see ourselves as we really are. Yes, we are Champions in our new nature, yet we are still wretches in our old and in need of His constant grace. I love the following story by Randy Alcorn.

Before I spoke at a conference, a soloist sang one of my favorite songs, “Amazing Grace.” It was beautiful. Until she got to the tenth word.

“Amazing grace! How sweet the sound that saved a soul like me!” My heart sank. The word wretch had been edited out! I thought about John Newton, the songwriter. This former slave trader, guilty of the vilest sins, knew he was a wretch. And that’s what made God’s grace so “amazing.” If we’re nothing more than morally neutral “souls,” do you see what that does? It guts grace. . . When you cut wretch out of the song, you shrink grace. You reduce it to something more sensible, less surprising. If you weren’t so bad without Christ, why did He have to endure the cross? Paul said if men were good enough, then “Christ died for nothing” (Galatians 2:21).

Seeing and confronting our own sinfulness should bring the same response from us that it did from Paul and John Newton –amazing grace that saved a wretch like me! Only Jesus saves us from the clutches of sin. He is our answer, not only for our initial salvation, but for our ongoing fight against our old nature that seeks to have its way with us. “But I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and
making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. (Romans 7:23 NIV) You don’t have to be dominated. Thankfully, Paul knew the answer to his dilemma as he breaks forth in jubilant praise! “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25). Jesus provides the gift of salvation and the power for continued victory when we choose to walk in the spirit. “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh… But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” (Galatians 5:16 & 18 NKJ) Speaking of this battle with our flesh, C. S. Lewis summed it up well,

“It cures our illusions about ourselves and teaches us to depend on God. We learn, on the one hand, that we cannot trust ourselves even in our best moments and on the other we need not despair in our worst for our failures are forgiven. The only fatal thing is to sit down content with anything less than perfection.” No matter how many times you’ve been knocked down, keep getting up and stay in the fight. Don’t quit.

Prayer to IGNITE:
Thank you Jesus that you saved me from my wretchedness. You are my only hope and I lean desperately and completely on you. Give me the strength to keep bringing my sins to you and to keep getting back up.