The Wretched Man’s Quest for Holiness: The Reality of Human Potential
Who am I? Such a seemingly simple question can be the most difficult to answer. To a degree, we all know the basics of who we are—whether you’re a male or female, adult or child—these questions tend to be decided for us by simple biology. Generally speaking, we know our names, ages, and homes of origin. We know our occupations and net worth. But, there remains within the question a seemingly unknowable existence. For, when we lay our heads to rest at night we find ourselves asking… “Lord, who am I?”
The famed apostle Paul found himself wrestling with the same question. At the end of Romans 7, we read Paul’s painful acknowledgement of who and what he really is: “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing…For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Romans 7: 18–19, 22–24 (ESV)
Wow. Just how fallen is our human nature? When I usually think about the apostle Paul, I most often tend to think about all of the amazing things that he did! I think about one of the wisest men to live around the time of Jesus. I think about all of the times he was mentioned by other prolific writers of his time. I think about the noble man who penned at least 13 letters of the New Testament—the stoic philosopher trained in the Hebrew traditions of Torah by Gamaliel…not…a wretched man. It’s easy to see where someone might feel let down by his acknowledgement. But, isn’t it true?
The reality is that it is! Humanity has been fallen since the introduction of sin to the human race. Lucifer fell from Heaven, and then he introduced sin to the human race and humanity fell. So, here we are. Fallen. Could there be hope? Can a fallen humanity even look upon the face of God to hear His voice?
C. S. Lewis observed this in Till We Have Faces. One of the questions raised by the end of the narrative is why must holy places be dark places? Why can’t we look upon the face of God? The answer realized in the book is that we cannot see God until we first realize who we are in ourselves—“till we have faces.”
Only after Paul’s astounding realization of himself can he conclude, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus!” What a profound truth! My beloved friends, as we continue our journey through the great revival of 2018 that was prophesied to us last year, I invite us all to take a glance at the mirror of our souls, given to us through the Word of God, that we might acknowledge who we are. Only then may God fulfill that Old Testament blessing – “May the Lord bless you, and keep you, and make His face to shine upon you.”
May we daily be conformed to His image. For His glory. – Bro. Nicholas