Romans, chapter 7, starting at verse 7 is widely understood by Christians to be an inspirational passage, giving hope to millions. For if a man like Paul, chosen by God Himself can be so conflicted by sin, then there is hope for all of us.
7. What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, "Do not covet." But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire. For apart from law, sin is dead. Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death.
For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good. Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! But in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it produced death in me through what was good, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.
We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. or in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
So Paul says in verse 24, "What a wretched man I am!"
If I were to write these words today, you would likely (and rightly) call me a typical whiny liberal, devoid of character, who can't take responsibility for my own actions. It is just one small step from saying, "The devil made me do it"
Paul is introducing a new concept to the faith, that we humans are not merely sinners, but completely and utterly depraved, and that we are saved only by the grace of God.
And this, I think is the source of self-loathing.
Fast forward 1500 years to another great self-loather, Martin Luther. From Wikipedia:
"Luther dedicated himself to monastic life. He devoted himself to fasts, long hours in prayer and pilgrimage, and constant confession. Luther tried to please God through this dedication; instead however, it increased his awareness of his own sinfulness. He would later remark, "If anyone could have gained heaven as a monk, then I would indeed have been among them." Luther described this period of his life as one of deep spiritual despair. He said, "I lost hold of Christ the Savior and Comforter and made of him a stock-master and hangman over my poor soul."
Small wonder then, that Luther was so enamoured with Paul that he considered the epistle of James to be useless. He said of James: "[it] contradicts Paul by teaching justification by works".
But what did Jesus teach?
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'
Much of what passes for modern Chrstianity is based on the teachings of Paul, later reinforced by Luther, both self-loathing men, unable to see that is was them, not mankind who were utterly depraved.
We are not saved by the Grace of God.
We will be judged on how we treat not just our friends or our family, but the least among us.