But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:10
“I am what I am.” We hear that claim, or something like it, often in our culture today, but usually with a very different meaning than the way Paul was using it. “I am what I am” is often used as a justification or defense for an individual’s behavior, choices, or identity. “This is who I am.” “This is how God made me.” “Accept me for who I am and get over it.”
The line of reasoning goes something like this. If this is what I desire to do, what I want to do, then I can’t be myself, I can’t be free, unless I do this. Therefore, God must have made me this way and intended for me to be this way. I am what I am. The breakdown in this logic occurs when it is compared with the biblical teaching of man, creation, desires, sin, God, and salvation in Christ. There are such things as sinful, wrong, harmful desires. Just because we want something or feel something is no indication that “something” is good or right or God’s intention. In fact, because the Bible teaches that we are sinners, the best way for us to interpret our feelings, desires, and emotions is by aligning ourselves with God’s Word rather than with our emotions.
Yes, Paul meant something radically different when he wrote “I am what I am.” We know that because he prefaced that statement with the grace of God, and he reinforced that statement by indicating that God’s grace had brought about a change in him. In other words, Paul is saying he’s not what he used to be! He’s not what he was. He’s been changed. He’s different. God’s grace has made him now what he could never had made himself.
God pours out His love for us while we are sinners, while we are undone and not pursuing Him, but by His excellent, saving, life-changing grace – He doesn’t leave us that way!!