Monday, 17 March 2014

This Wretched Man

Sometimes I look at myself in the mirror and ask why I bother...


The person looking back is overflowing with pride, and yet empty of humility

The person looking back is a self-professed leader, with no one following him
The person looking back talks of good, yet constantly wanders off into evil
The person looking back is full of great intentions and criticisms, while sitting on his hands
The person looking back talks of how wonderful God is, while constantly turning his back on Him.



This lamentful hymn by Steve Apirana sums up my plight:



Lyrics:


This wretched man stands here today

Encumbered by his sinful way
Has built his life on shifting sand
Oh who will save this wretched man

This wretched man has had it all

All he desired at beck and call
No thought of God or fellow man
Oh who will save this wretched man

This wretched man now understands

His endless wealth and strength of hand
Amounts to nothing in Gods plan
Oh who will save this wretched man

Now as my time draws to an end

I find no place to make amends
And now to face one fear alone
That I must reap from the seeds I have already sown

But for a chance to start again

But for a voice to call me in
But for a touch of saving grace
Oh who will save
Oh who will save
Oh who will save this wretched man.


© Steve & Ainsley Apirana 2011.

Alone, this wretched man has no hope. I can't undo what I have done. I can't unspeak what I have foolishly spoken. I can't take back what I have thrown away.


I constantly do what I don't want to do, and what I want to do I don't do...
hang on, that sounds familiar! Didn't someone in the bible say that? Let me do a search and see...
ah, yes, here we go:
"We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 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. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Romans 7:14-25).

I am wretched because I am sinful. And I am sinful because that is the way I was born. All my effort and hard work to straighten myself out will be in vain, because a sinful person is using sinful means to obtain an unattainable goal - perfection.
Only God is perfect - yet He desires perfection from us: "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matt 5:48).
But how can I go from completely wretched and rotten, to perfect? Well, the answer is in the end of the passage we read above in Romans: "Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!"

God designed us so that perfection was impossible for us to achieve by our own strength:

"All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away." (Is 64:6).
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." (Eph 2:8-9).

If I was able to pull myself up by my bootstraps and clean myself up, I could turn around and say "Look what I did. You can do it to!". Who gets the glory? I do.
But when I look to the Saviour, who is perfect in every way, and am clothed in His righteousness, He is glorified in me. Who is glorified then? Christ is, because once again He has delivered me from all my wretchedness.

So who will save this wretched man? 
Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!. 
His perfection covers up all my wretchedness!

Blessings.




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