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Romans 6:4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. (NKJV)

(Previous devotionals can be found at www.seriousfaith.com)

January 1st always brings up the idea of “new”: new resolutions, new year, and new starts. While there is actually nothing special about the first day of the year, as humans we mark time and remember milestones in our lives by the calendar. Along with the natural tendency to think “new chance” every New Year’s Day, the formidable marketing monster in America (and most of the world) has not missed the opportunity to use the New Year to promote the same idea. We are bombarded with “new year resolutions advertising” for losing weight, exercising, making money or finally getting that dream home or car.

While there is nothing inherently bad about getting in shape or buying a home, the world, as usual, misses the real point. Anything “new” apart from a new life in Christ, and newly regenerated heart, is a temporary fix at best, and a deceptive distraction at worse.

New “anything” without the new life in Christ is only a temporary fix at best.

A new year is not a bad time to start new things. It’s a natural starting point for us given the way we mark time. For the Christian, there are two added bonuses to this idea of “new”:

  1. Every day, every moment, can be a new start for a Christian. All things are new every morning as we wake up to another God-given day (Lam 3.22-23) and any single moment can become a fresh new start when we sincerely confess our sins to our God who is faithful and just to forgive us (1 John 1.9).
  2. For the Christian, “new” truly is new. When God forgives, it is true forgiveness giving a truly new start (Psalm 103.12). When God saves us, we become a truly new person (Rom 6.4)

With that idea in mind, let’s look at a few “new” things that are available from God at the start of this New Year:

A New Heart

Ezekiel 36:26-29 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God. I will deliver you from all your uncleanesses. I will call for the grain and multiply it, and bring no famine upon you. (NKJV; emphasis mine)

Now these verses in context, were specifically a promise to Israel from God as a blessing for obedience, and prophetically for something that would occur in the last days for Israel. But they mirror and articulate exactly the new heart that is given to every person who repents of their sin and trusts only Christ for salvation. When we are saved, we get a new spirit, a new heart (same thing, just two different ways of saying it), and the Holy Spirit literally indwells us, freeing us from “uncleanness” (sin).

Titus 3:5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, (NKJV; emphasis mine)

Regeneration is the supernatural act of God that literally creates a new spirit, a “new heart” if you will, in each person at the point of genuine salvation. This new heart is now a slave to righteousness instead of wickedness (Rom 6.6-22). It is a new heart that is indwelled with the Holy Spirit, and sealed by the Spirit Himself as a guarantee of salvation (2 Cor 1.22). If the Holy Spirit guarantees the salvation of the authentic Believer, then what better assurance could a person have?

The new heart given by God is not a New Year’s resolution that lasts a couple of weeks. On this New Year’s Day, are you sure that your heart has been made new by the shed blood of Jesus Christ? What better New Year’s resolution could there be than to be sure that you have understood your sinful state, and cried out to God for mercy, who alone give can you a new heart and a new life?

A New Life

Romans 6:4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. (NKJV; emphasis mine)

New Years Day resolutions typically last less than two weeks. What starts out as exciting determination to change, to have a “new life”, quickly turns to disappointment as we fail once more under our own human power. God offers a truly new life, that can begin today and last for eternity. Consider what the Bible says:

Romans 6:1…23 (emphasis mine; parts of verses): … just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NKJV; emphasis mine)

God offers a new life for the Christian. A new life of righteousness. The obvious question at this point for most Christians will be:

If I am a Christian, then why am I still sinning so much?

You may realize that your life, your behavior, your choices are not much different than those around you who do not profess Christ. There are two options to consider:

  1. You’re not really a Christian even though you think you are or have been told you are. Don’t trust the false notion that because you walked an aisle at church, or made a “decision” at church camp, or “prayed the sinners prayer” that you are a Christian based on some “experience” you had. Consider these admonitions from Scripture:
    • Philippians 2:12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; (NKJV; emphasis mine);
      Paul encouraged people to seriously consider their salvation and “work it out”. Of course this does not mean that we work to EARN our salvation, but that we constantly “work out” (consider, examine, evaluate) the condition of our salvation to authenticate that we really are children of God. Paul gives light to this idea in the following verse:
    • 2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? unless indeed you are disqualified. (NKJV; emphasis mine)
      This single verse alone destroys the notion of resting upon some “religious experience” as the evidence of salvation. Paul emphatically commands us to examine ourselves about our salvation with the idea being that it is a constant and ongoing examination. This flies directly in the face of modern evangelism that assures a person if they “made a decision” as some point in the past, then they have “passed the test”. Paul says “test yourselves”. What is the test? I’m glad you asked….
    • Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, (NKJV; emphasis mine)
      The “test” of salvation is the presence of “fruit” in our lives. How do you know an apple tree? Because it produces apples. How to you know a Spirit-filled Christian? Because it produces the fruit of the Spirit. We examine ourselves for this evidence; we test to see if we are producing what a Christian “tree” produces. There are other “tests” that allow us to be sure of our salvation:
    • 1 John 5:13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God. (NKJV; emphasis mine)
      The Apostle John writes an entire book that gives us many “tests” to see if we are truly saved. Here’s a few: we can know we are saved if we keep God’s commandments (1John 2.3-6); if we do the will of God (1John 2.17); if we love God and love others (1John 5.2); if we practice righteousness (1John 2.29); if we serve our Christian family (1John 3.16); if we love other Christians (1John 3.14); if we love God (1John 5.2); if we confess Christ (1John 4.15).
  2. You’re a Christian, but you’re not renewing your mind and have allowed the things of the world and of the flesh to distract you from God and holiness:
    • Galatians 5:17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. (NKJV; emphasis mine)
    • Romans 8:4-8 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (NKJV; emphasis mine)
    • Romans 7:15-20 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. (NKJV; emphasis mine)
    • Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (NKJV; emphasis mine)
      How do you renew your mind? With God’s Word:
      Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (NKJV; emphasis mine)
    • Corinthians 4:16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. (NKJV; emphasis mine)

The “new life” is available only to authentic Christians. Every other poor soul is a slave to sin (John 8.34) and no amount of New Year’s resolutions will change that. Even if you are a Christian, if you are making provision for the flesh (sin), then you are allowing yourself to return to your former slavery (to sin), and if you make New Year’s resolutions in the power of your own will and determination, they will fail as well. Only those resolutions that are made for God’s glory, and rely on God’s power will be lasting and effective.

New Year’s resolutions are doomed to failure or futility apart from God.

This New Year, examine yourself to see if you need a new heart (salvation). That is the only true way that you can begin a new life. If you are a Christian, then recommit yourself, for God’s glory, with God’s help, to renewing your mind on a daily basis, and every day can be a “new year’s day” for you.

New Mercies, Forgiveness and Compassion

Finally, for Christians only (not speaking of salvation, but of daily living), God offers new mercy, new compassion and new forgiveness… not only on New Year’s day, but on any day; in fact, at any moment.

  • Lamentations 3:21-24 This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. Through the Lords mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, says my soul, Therefore I hope in Him! (NKJV; emphasis mine)

    • God’s compassion for His children NEVER fails. We can awake to a new day every day. His faithfulness is far greater than our need. God is our hope and He offers us a fresh new serving of mercy, compassion and faithfulness every single day. A Christian is never more than one day, or one moment away from a New Years Day.

  • 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (NKJV; emphasis mine)
    • We are only one sincere confession away from a new start at any given moment. We can have a New Year’s resolution any time, any where. We need only to repent and confess to God our sinfulness and we get a new start from our Father who is faithful to cleanse us every time.

New Year’s Day brings about new starts, new ides, new resolutions and new efforts from people all across the world. While there is some temporary good in these things, ultimately, it is an exercise in frustration and futility for those who do not know God (Ecc 1.14), and have not responded in repentant obedience to the Gospel message.

I’d like to leave you with two things to chew on:

  1. Do you find yourself in the same cycle of frustration, realizing every New Year that you still haven’t gotten serious about your Christianity, or that your life is still just as sinful as it was a year ago? If yes, then I would invite you to examine yourself, to test yourself to see whether or not you have truly come to a point of sincere conviction and hatred for your sin, and turned to Christ in repentance and responded in obedience to the One and Only way of salvation. In other words, you need to make sure you really are a Christian.
  2. Lastly, this time of New Year resolutions is a great opportunity to talk to people about salvation. It is a time where many people realize the frustration of life, and know that they WANT to do something to change their life, but realize that year after year they fail. It can be a very opportune time to prick their hearts about their lost condition, and share the Good News with them.

Happy New Year. Happy new forgiveness. Happy new mercy and compassion. Happy new hearts. Happy new life in Christ.

Lord God, Help us to realize that only real “new” anything can be found solely in You. Help us to use this time when people are thinking about “new” resolutions as a time to both examine our own salvation, and help others to consider theirs. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Contemplation: Have you ever considered the need to examine and test your own salvation? Do you find yourself year after year needing to make the same New Years resolutions as unsaved people? Have you thought about the new mercy, compassion forgiveness and life that is available to you as a Christian?

Application: The only real “new” anything that is lasting and genuine is the “newness” that God offers. When God forgives and gives us a “new clean”, it is real. When God offers “new mercy” it is genuine. When God regenerates the old heart into a “new heart”, it is permanent. Our New Year’s resolutions need to be for God’s glory, and by His power, if they are to have any real value or lasting effect.

James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)

  1. What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
  2. What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
  3. What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?


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