I Don’t Want to Be Me!

I came home from an evening meeting at church last night expecting to be greeted by my 3 kids as I walked in the door.  I was crying-mangreeted by two instead who were delighted to tell me that their big brother had been sent to bed early for being rude to mommy.  Earlier in the day I had conversed with this same young man about his habits of talking back, “getting smart”, and rudeness, so I was disappointed to learn that my “preaching” had gone unheeded.  I poked my head into his room just to see if he was still awake and found him sobbing on his bed… I’m a sucker for the tears.
I sat down on the edge of the bed and he quickly scooted over and put his head on my lap.  Through his tears he began to speak and I began to prepare my speech about why he deserved to be sent to his room and that his mother was only doing what was necessary to help him learn.  But his words were not the complaint I expected.  “I don’t want to be me!” he wailed.  “I want to be a good boy but I can’t- I can’t do it!”  My heart melted… not because it was incredibly adorable- not because it was heartbreaking… but because I knew exactly where he was.

Haven’t we all sat weeping on the edge of a bed somewhere at some point and cried out “I don’t want to be me-  I want to be a good boy or girl but I can’t!” Sure we have.  We’re not lamenting that we want someone else’s life we’re just frustrated that we can’t live the life we have GOOD! We long to live righteous and pure- to live free from the habits and addictions of sin, but try as we might with all the strength we can muster we find no power to break the chains of sin that hold us.

In Romans 7 the Apostle Paul cries out “O Wretched man that I am! Who will save me from this body of death!” It’s an interesting image he uses, this “body of death”.  Some scholars have suggested that this language is a reference to an ancient Roman punishment for murder; that the murderer should be chained to the corpse of his victim until the bacteria and decay of the rotting carcass ultimately killed the killer as well. Paul saw himself as chained to the rotting corpse of his own sinfulness it was killing him and he guttural cry of his soul says “Who can set me free from this revolting sentence of death?”

Then suddenly a NEW cry escapes from the apostle’s lips, but it was no cry of despair or misery: it was a shout of victory and joy! Paul answers his own frustrated heart and says “Thanks be to God, through Jesus I am set free!” The New Living Translation says it like this:

Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.
(Romans 7:24–25, NLT)

In Jesus Christ we are set free! All of us from the time of our birth are under a “body of death” sentence- condemned to drag around the corpse of the sinful flesh and bound under sin to carry out IT’S desires.  We are not capable of escaping it’s hold- we are not capable in ourselves to do what is right- to do what we know we ought to do- to live righteously as we long to.  We cannot be the someone else free from sin that we want to be… not on our own, anyway.  But thanks be to God, Jesus has broken to power of sin in your life.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit that he has given to us we CAN live free from sin- we CAN live righteously as we desire- we CAN see spiritual fruit growing in our lives.

But as I told my sobbing son last night, our freedom is not found in fighting harder to do what we ought, but rather it is found in surrender to His Spirit.  In Him we have power to live in freedom.  In Him and Him alone.  Won’t you pray today:

“Lord Jesus I thank you for delivering me from the guilt and the condemnation of sin.  I thank you for the cleansing of my conscience and a right standing before God.  I thank you for power to overcome sin in my life that has held me for years.  I present myself to you, Jesus, to be used as Your instrument of righteousness, and I ask YOU to help me walk today according to your Spirit and not according to what the sinful flesh in me desires. Amen”