New Year, New You
It's a cliché, but it’s a cliché for a reason. At the beginning of the New Year many people attempt to seize the opportunity to try something new in their lives. A University of Scranton study revealed that some 45% of Americans make a New Year's resolution—but of those who make resolutions, only 8% follow through. So, do we find ourselves in the 8% of people who follow through or the 92% of people who fail to do so?
Why is it so easy to fail? Why do only 8% of people follow through with their resolutions? Why are we so dissatisfied with our commitments or lack thereof?
“I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”
If the Word tells us that we can do all things through Christ, perhaps we find ourselves failing so often because, in those times of failure, we have wandered from Christ. This is not new information; we know God cannot be within sin, just like fire cannot be cold. We know when we visit the website or defile our bodies (which, if we are saved, is a temple of the Lord) that we are indeed turning from God. We should cling to Him always. Anything that takes us away from Him should have no place in our lives. We would do well to remember that God promises to provide a way out of temptation.
1 Corinthians 10:13
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
Two Are Better Than One
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
I would bet that those in the 8% ranking have a support system around them to help them achieve their goals throughout the year. We will always fail if we attempt to go it alone by either not reaching out to God or not reaching out to each other. We need community.
“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
Another way to make a goal achievable is to understand the reason for achieving the goal in the first place. Why do you want to stop watching porn? Why do you want to stop masturbating? Why do you want to stop eyeing women? Why do you want to stop keeping secrets? Why do you want to stop lying? Why do you want to gain control over your mind? “Because I know it’s wrong or because I know God says to” usually isn’t enough for us sinners. Simply knowing something is wrong is not enough of a motivator to change behavior. It has to bother us. We have to care—in this case, we have to hate it. We have to feel the same way God feels about our sin.
“The Lord examines the righteous,
but the wicked, those who love violence,
he hates with a passion.”
“The arrogant cannot stand
in your presence.
You hate all who do wrong;”
God is always offering us a clean slate and an opportunity at a new start. He doesn't need a specific time of year for us to make a decision to completely follow Him. He is always there, always waiting for us. Sometimes we fall back into sin, into our old ways, but we must always keep in mind that the new is already here.
2 Corinthians 5:17
“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”
Picture a storage unit or garage that is piled high from back to front, floor to ceiling with junk. We have to clear out the junk in the front and get it all out of our way before we can get to the stuff in the back. For me, this helps as a visual metaphor for the mind. I was raised in the church and knew the gospel at an early age. That was in my mind early on, some of the first stuff to go in. But I just let it sit in the back and gather dust. Then other stuff got piled in front of that information, including pornography and all sorts of sexual sin. As I grew, I kept accumulating piles and piles of sexual sin, inappropriate humor, etc., which begin to crowd the storage unit of my mind. Now, if I want to get to the stuff in the back, I have to clear out the stuff in the front. How can I presume to grow closer to God if I have all this sin at the forefront of my mind?
I needed to surrender that sin to the Lord and allow Him to cleanse me of it before I could focus on my physical health. I think this is a common problem for us: we intend to do good things and end up slacking off on them. So we have to ask ourselves, what are we consistent in? What is it that we can always count on ourselves to do? Watch porn? Sin sexually? Take a second or third look? Create a mental picture? Lie? Is this you: “I can’t count on myself to read my Bible everyday but I’ll certainly have time to visit the porn site”? We have to get that junk out of the way or we’ll never be able to reach the treasure that the Lord has put within us and thus live the life God wants us to live! In this new year, surrender your sin over to the Lord, lean on His Holy Spirit, choose the nature of the Holy Spirit and say no to the desires of your sinful nature. This is a new year, allow God to make a new you.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.