Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:24–25a, esv).
Are you exhausted from trying to change yourself and your habits? Have you already given up on some New Year’s resolutions? If you keep struggling to change but then slip further back into destructive patterns, hear this. The process of real change, authentic change, cannot start until you do what Paul did: face and admit the reality of what’s in your heart.
Look in the mirror and acknowledge, “I am the problem.” Let’s accept once and for all that our deepest issues are not due to our parents, our past, or other people. Let’s see our sin the way God sees it, and take total responsibility for who we are going to become. Let’s admit like Paul did in Romans 7:24, “Wretched man that I am!”
“Only God can change your heart.”
Are you willing to say that?
“Wretched” means distressed or miserable through exhaustion from hard labor. Given the context, Paul must have known what it was to be exhausted from trying to change himself. He reached a point of desperation where he basically said, “God, I want to be a different person. I’m not going to shield myself from the darkness in my own heart anymore. I really want to be the person you want me to be. I want to be righteous, godly, and true. So I’m going to face up to who I really am.”
Maybe you’ve been there, too.
Oh, “wretched man”—or woman—godly change begins with your genuine, humble, contrite admission: “It’s me. I’m the problem.” Once you’ve faced this reality, there is only one thing you can do: turn to God! Only He can change your heart. Notice these words: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
As Christ followers, we can get frustrated that Paul doesn’t say more. “Can’t you break that down and add some stuff, Paul? You have me in this desperate condition and I want the answer, and all you say is ‘thanks be to God’?!”
In reality, God’s solution is so simple we often miss it. The answer is Jesus Christ. He is waiting to do a work of change in your heart. Get desperate, go before Him, and ask Him to do what only He can do for you—and in you.
God is in the business of transformation and He wants to change you. Victory will come when you offer yourself alive to the Lord moment by moment. True life change comes only through partnership with Him. As you pursue authentic change, admit where you are and turn to God. Your wretchedness will fade while your heart fills with the abundance of life in Christ.
Lord, I know I’m not nearly as much like Jesus as I should be. I am seeing that no matter what else has happened in my life, the root of my problem is me. Help me to stop blaming people or situations and be willing to take a hard look at my own heart and what truly is the wretchedness in it. No matter what I try, I can’t really change unless You’re at the center. I know You want to change me, so please help! Thank you for paying such a high cost to redeem me, and for the fact that You won’t abandon any work You start. I trust You and ask You to help me be surrendered to that work You’re doing in me. In Jesus name, amen.