(Originally written December, 31, 2013)
It’s New Years Eve! Time to get ready to join some friends and family and watch the clock strike midnight. A New Year is on the horizon, are you ready? My hope is that us Christians would see this next year as a means to tie up the loose ends of our lives ( the things we don’t need), and be even more prepared to meet Jesus when He calls us to eternity. Let’s recap yesterday’s post:
Yesterday’s post was about the idea of resolutions. We all make them, and often they are for good reasons. However, there are dangers when a Christian copies the exact approach of the world.
Resolutions as the world treats them are often:
1) Godless in worldview (Psalm 14, 1 Cor. 1-2). So, the goals are set without a proper view of self (dependent, needy, human, sinner) and God (holy, loving, Divine, Father). You can’t see properly without the right glasses. Can you expect to set course if you can’t see at all?
2) Self-centered. It’s about my ability, what I can accomplish. How I am the captain of my life, and I have the power to do anything I want. No, you don’t! You need God in order to live, breathe, or do anything (Acts 17), you can’t eat food or use the earth’s resources unless He provides them (Acts 14), and nothing good you have is yours (James 1).
And most often, 3) Guaranteeing a cycle of defeat. It becomes about your doing, but your goals are often too perfect. So, you make compromises and eventually give up. Or, if you do make it, the goals will never be enough.
So, you can see why a Christian cannot do these things the same way as other people. There has to be a difference.
With that understanding in mind, let’s re-examine the four motivations for resolutions that I wrote about yesterday. Today, we’ll cover the first two. My hope is that you go away making resolutions that are driven by a desire to love God and others more than ever. Tomorrow, we’ll study someone who took resolutions seriously, but also did it out of a fiery passion to love God with all his might.
The first two motivations to New Years are:
1) New Years gives us a sense of things starting over. It helps us feel like the past isn’t written in stone and change can happen. Some kind of atonement can be made. You can get a second chance at accomplishing your goals.
The good: The idea of a fresh start. The bad: Not looking for it in Jesus. The gospel is a past event with present benefits that affect your eternity. In other words, you must be born again (Jn. 3). The you that was born needs a new heart, a new affection, a new life and redemption. You can’t change the past, and you can’t make atonement for past sins. That only comes through receiving the gift of forgiveness from God through Jesus Christ.
Whether you watch movies or television, or read mainstream authors, the concept of atonement is everywhere. All of us want to make amends for something we’ve done, but unlike a credit card, your “good” actions can’t add to the bad and even out. The idea that you can do more bad than good and somehow put your conscience permanently at ease is impossible. You need more than to forgive yourself (modern psychology), or to be forgiven by others: You need God’s forgiveness. Another problem with this is that it forgets the consequences of past decisions: God will hold you to them. Will He see your record and judge you for it, or will you trust God to count the judgement on Jesus instead?
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23 ESV)
For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. (Romans 3:23-25 ESV)
Everything hinges on this first. Without the gospel our works are as filthy rags, meaningless and useless.
But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away. (Isaiah 64:6 NKJV)
2) Not just starting over, but also rewriting the future. You are the captain of your destiny. Your weight doesn’t have to get in the way of living. You don’t have to continue going to the bar every weekend. Your vision changes from what has happened to what will happen. The question is, will you do it?
Where will you spend eternity? If you gave enough thought to your life after death as it deserves, you would find little time to fill your life with distractions. If you knew you were going to Hell, and could clearly see it, how would it affect your life? If you’re a Christian, and you have a new identity and eternal destiny, with a place in heaven (Jn. 13-14), how must this affect your life? You are not the captain of the ship, you are a servant on it (Matt. 6). The question is, where is your ship headed?
For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. (I Corinthians 15:9, 10 NKJV)
Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. (I John 2:3-6 NKJV)
I hope that you know Christ, but even more than you desire Him above everything else. Every day we need Him to help us share the gospel with others, honor Him at our jobs, our schools, and our churches. You need Jesus this coming year, don’t ignore Him!
Tomorrow, we’ll look at the final two points and ask, if the gospel is true, how can I make resolutions that matter?
Blessings, and happy New Year!