I have done wicked and evil things. I have used people, at their expense, for my own benefit. I have manipulated and taken advantage of others. I have lied to those who trusted me most. I have torn down others to build myself up. I have hurt others. I have pressured others to do things they did not want to do. I have said mean and hateful things to people who bear God’s image. Thankfully, by God’s grace, I have not acted upon all my wicked and evil impulses. Thankfully, I have not said all of the wicked thoughts that come to mind. Thankfully, I have not always retaliated when wronged, although my inner being wanted to lash out in vengeance. Thankfully, I have been restrained from many of the lustful impulses that run through my inner man. But just because I have not acted upon all my lustful, wicked, and evil desires does not excuse me or give me any solace. For there really is no difference between me and the pervert, between me and the murderer, between me and the extortionist. There is a monster inside of me, and nothing I do will stop it, because that monster is me!
Knowledge of my wicked inner man only drives me further and further to despair. Knowledge that my thoughts are no different than the thoughts of the psychopath does not comfort me but rather leads to my ruin. Knowledge that my ways are selfish only leads to further and further depression. But while I was far from God and without hope in this world, and while I was an opponent of God, I received mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed onto me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 1:13-14). God showed me who I am apart from Him that He might draw me to Himself. He showed me who I am apart from Him that I might understand more fully His great love for me. He showed me who I am apart from Him that I might understand that I am desperately in need of His great and amazing grace.
And now by His grace, my hideous self is being renewed. And now by His grace, my undesirable self is being made more and more desirable. And now by His grace, my hardened, sick heart is being made new.
This is a painful, wrenching process but it does not compare to the pain my Savior endured on the cross. It was not for something abstract that He died, but it was my sin that put Him there. In fact, it was me who pierced Him, it was me who spat upon Him, it was me who ridiculed Him, but now He treats me with favor, and His abundant love is being poured out upon me! O, how marvelous, O, how wonderful, is my Savior’s love for me!