Every January it is bound to happen. You may write them down, you may put a reminder in your phone, whatever it is, you make New Year’s resolutions and probably most of them go by the wayside faster than your Christmas tree is placed by the curb. But we do try. We try to make commitments to dieting and exercise; to vacationing more and working less; to spending quality time and making memories instead of money. But no matter how hard we try, most of us probably don’t make it through a quarter of the year before we have gotten back into our old habits and routine and have left that list on a desk underneath other clutter or have deleted the reminder on our phones out of annoyance.
We have this idea that we must improve because of the new year. We think, “New Year, New Me” but that mentality doesn’t stick and we just rotate back into old self ways. I think this mentality also rears its ugly head in the Christian church. We think, “If I am a Christian, I must obey God and will be free from sin.” We think after the symbolic tradition of baptism that, “New birth, new me” and then we try our hardest to not fall prey to Satan’s temptations and lusts of the flesh.
The Apostle Paul will say in his first epistle to the church at Corinth “…we shall all be changed…in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet…” (2 Cor. 15:52, NKJV). This is when the New Year, New me can start – at the end of time. Until then, I’m stuck with an old me and old habits. HOWEVER (notice this is in caps), that doesn’t mean we don’t strive to change for the better. Even Paul will also say that, “…shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not!” (Rom. 6:1, 2).
So, what are we to do in this paradigm, where I want to be new and change but must also realize that, just like my New Year’s resolution, my obedience toward God may wane and I have no doubt I’ll sin again, probably even before January 1st is over?
I think it is important to realize that we live in a condition of Sin (notice, again, the capital letter). Humankind, and ultimately the planet, fell to Sin upon Adam and Eve’s fall in the Garden. I can’t commit to escaping the situation of sin we are. The Bible also tell us that, “…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). I cannot help but be in Sin. Just like I cannot change my skin color, I am a sinner. Period. Our hearts are evil continually (Gen. 6:5).
So, should I just go on sinning? We already answered that above with Paul, “Certainly not.” So, what am I supposed to do? We are to follow the example of Christ. When Christ was tempted by the Devil, see Matthew 4, Christ did something we should emulate, He quoted scripture. The only way we can work on our sins (notice lower case, these are actions that we commit that are against God’s wishes for our lives) is if we can quote Scripture. Scripture is our key, it is our defense against Satan’s tactics in our lives, tactics that derail us – things like sexual lusting and acts against others, lying and gossiping at work, school and elsewhere, denying people help that are in need – these are just a few of the sins, actions, that we either perform or neglect to perform that tear us apart from each other and place God at arm’s length in our lives. But if we can quote scripture, we have a defense.
Ok, ok, ok – hold on – I should admit right now that I am the worst at memorizing Scripture. I try and it just doesn’t come naturally. I can’t tell you where things are from exactly, I may say “Paul says it somewhere,” or “Jesus mentioned it in the Gospels, I think”, in any case, Jesus quoting Scripture to thwart the devil’s attacks wasn’t the main focus – it was the fact that He had a relationship with God that Jesus was able to stand against sin.
If I have lost you in my blog, hold on – what I mean is this. We need a relationship with Jesus. The only way we can do that is if we spend time with Him. One way to do this is through reading His word, the Holy Bible (Scriptures). By spending this time with him, when our actions try to deviate us away from Him, we can stand just like He did against sin. We cannot get out of our Sin (notice capital) condition, we are sinners, evil continually. But we can form a relationship with Jesus that allows us to trust in Him more and more and as time moves on, we will still slip and break our New Year’s resolutions, we will still sin, but we will understand His love for us more and more.
That is the purpose of a relationship with Jesus – to know how much He truly loves us. If we make resolutions to be better about not sinning, we can’t keep those promises. We will fail. But if we make resolutions to just try and get to know Jesus more, we can take those steps. We can read the Bible more and pray more, but even if we fail at that, we can always pick up the pieces and move forward, recognizing that Jesus came not to condemn, but to save (John 3:17).
J.T. Wallington is a pastor and a teacher. Using these two skill sets, he masterfully puts together words to ignite passion, inspire learning and instill the love of Jesus in every day life.