Lord's Day Liturgy

Wretched Isn’t All

Those who fear God and are convicted by the Spirit before the standard of the law in Scripture usually don’t have good things to say about themselves. Agur said he was too stupid to be a man (Proverbs 30:2). Bildad told Job that before God, man is a maggot and a worm (Job 25:6), and he wasn’t wrong. Paul said he was wretched (Romans 7:24).

Wretched is one of those words that we feel more than we could define. We know it’s not good, a despicable character. The word Paul used is talaiporos (ταλαίπωρος), meaning miserable. It’s the antonym of μακάριος, blessed. In Romans 7 it’s not a natural conclusion, but a supernatural verdict in light of the law.

In any myth worth the breath it takes to tell, the wretch is the one to hate, the one to banish, the one to scapegoat.

It’s part of our identity, who we are. But wait, for believers there’s more.

Luther could say he was simultaneously justified and sinner (simul iustus et peccator). Paul could say he was the chief of sinners in order to be a recipient of God’s mercy and perfect patience (1 Timothy 1:15-16). And best of all, Jesus said He didn’t come to find the righteous, but sinners. The healthy don’t need a doctor (Mark 2:17). Jesus calls wretches.

So you are a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad wretch. You are also born again, declared righteous before the Judge by the Judge, adopted as His child, saved by amazing grace.