“O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So, then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”
Only those who are redeemed will have this struggle of soul and know how to gain victory in it.
“O wretched man that I am!”
Has there ever been a more piercing, poignant, agonizing self-description than this one? Assuredly not. And, the Apostle Paul wasn’t the only one who ever felt that way. We all do, don’t we?
Like Paul, if we’re truly born again, there was a time we realized we were wrestling AGAINST Christ instead of walking with Him (Acts 9:4). And, hopefully, like Paul, we yielded to Him and said “Lord, what would you have me to do?” (v.6a).
Yet, that was the first step in surrender: The step of faith and repentance that ushers in eternal life.
We then begin the journey of faith and the process of sanctification, which is the in-working of the Holy Spirit that transforms us into Christ’s likeness. And, it is this agonizing process of “being crucified with Christ” (Gal. 2:20) that is really being described in today’s Manna.
No one wanted to be holy and righteous more than Paul did. No one wanted to keep every jot and tittle of the Law more than Paul. Yet, after his encounter with the Risen Lord that day on the road to Damascus is when the real Battle began.
You see, prior to his conversion, Paul prided himself on keeping the Law (or so he thought). As a Pharisee, he honestly believed he kept every one of the 600+ laws they’d developed out of the original Ten. But, Christ showed him his assurance was rooted in his SELF-righteousness, not His Righteousness. And, it was this acute awareness of his total wretchedness that caused Paul to cry “I am carnal, sold under sin” (Rom. 7:14).
Likewise, Paul realized that even on his “best day” he could not totally keep the Law.
“That which I want to do, I don’t do,” he said (v.15a).
“And that which I don’t want to do is what I end up doing,” he added (v.15b).
No wonder he cried “O wretched man that I am!” He realized how miserably he failed in his quest and how far short he fell in doing God’s Will. But, then he remembered that it’s God’s Grace, not our good works, that enables us to enter into eternal life (Rom. 6:23; Eph. 2:8-9). And, it’s Christ’s Victory over sin, death and the grave that assures our victory. Glory!!
That’s why he said “Thanks be to God Who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Cor. 15:57). And, that’s why “there is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus and walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Rom. 8:1). So, “abide in Christ” (Jn. 15:1-7) today, Pilgrim—for that’s the secret to victory in your soul’s civil war.
By Tom Smith Morning Manna Dated June 23, 2010