St Paul once said, “Oh wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death.” (Romans 7:24) The word wretched in the dictionary is an interesting word to look up as you see these endless words here saying that it means: miserable, unhappy, sad, broken-hearted, grief-stricken, desolate, low-spirited, dejected, dismal, woeful, and the list goes on…so these kinds of words are what he meant by being wretched. But then he associated his wretchedness with what he called the body of this death, so what did he mean by the body of this death? He was talking about spiritual death because St Paul knew all about spiritual death and its symptoms. The world today is highly oblivious of the concept of spiritual death though you’d have to say that large numbers of people walk in this state every day.
Another interesting point of view that Paul gave was when he talked of a thorn in the flesh and so he acknowledged that he had what was called a thorn in the flesh and then he goes on to talk of the messenger of Satan who would buffet him (manipulate and push into sin) in relation to this thorn in the flesh. So what exactly is a thorn in the flesh? Well, you could say that it has a lot to do with besetting sins and whether people care to admit it or not, we all have our besetting sins. The list is endless of what these can be, they could be problems with alcohol, money, selfishness, wrath, greed, pride, fear, vanity, self-worship, sexual lusts, homosexuality, power, excess, lying, cheating, stealing, murder, you name it, the list is endless and so we have a kind of world where you have all these zombies (spiritual death) walking around with endless thorns in the flesh and you’d have to say that most of them are in quite a wretched state and St Paul was honest enough to admit that he was prone to the same wretched state of spiritual death and so his thorn in the flesh would act as a reminder to him that he wasn’t such a great Saint and that it was all Jesus and not himself. He said of himself, “in my flesh dwelleth no good thing.” He acknowledged that Jesus had given him loads of spiritual revelations and spiritual truths but he also realised that this could lift him up in pride and so he had to constantly be kept humble, he had to be constantly reminded of where all these revelations were coming from and that they weren’t coming from himself or from his own lustful flesh so no-doubt sometimes he would come face to face with himself, kind of like you do first thing in the morning when you look in the mirror.
St James talked about this, he no-doubt understood about wretchedness and spiritual death when he talked about being doers of the word and not hearers only, he said, “For if any man be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like a man beholding his natural face in a glass (mirror): For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgeteth what manner of man he was.” (James 1:23,24) So, you kind of picture here a man looking in the mirror, unshaven and in need of a good wash but instead of doing anything about it he gets on with his day, but anyone who does this might find themselves on a rollercoaster and you start sinking pretty quick into a wretched state until you can’t stand yourself any longer and you quickly start to realise what a hopeless case you are without Jesus and so God willing in this state we quickly realise our great weakness that of ourselves we can do nothing, that when we are weak, then are we strong because God’s strength is made perfect in weakness so we cry out to Jesus with all of our hearts because we so want to get away from ourselves, we really do hate ourselves so much when we are in this wretched state, we are just the opposite of what the world tells us to be. The world tells us to love ourselves and put on a façade whilst the best thing any of us can ever do is to give up on ourselves and come clean just like every saint did in the Bible, they all knew what they were without Jesus, they couldn’t get one thing right without Jesus and they certainly weren’t good without Jesus and so they all learnt to hate themselves and so they
asked Jesus into their hearts and He filled them with His Spirit and He made them alive spiritually, they gave up on their old selves and the body of this death as Paul puts it and so they became a new creature in Christ Jesus, a new spiritually alive creature and so they found spiritual life and gave up on their spiritual death, or in other words themselves!