am010707 - Achieving Your New Year's Resolutions
NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS
New Year’s resolutions-we all have the best intentions at the start of each year. We resolve to eating healthier foods and exercising more, but then by February, all of those good intentions are gone, and we are left sitting on the couch eating an entire box of Christmas cookies while watching our favorite TV program.
This past week I was involved in a religious survey in which I was asked the following questions: “I preach about New Year’s resolutions as a useful opportunity for change?”; or I avoid talking about them because I don't think they are useful for lasting change.?” Or, I preach against them as an inappropriate path to real change.?
I was among the 65% of those who stated that they preach that resolutions are opportunities for change.
But, why are so few New Year’s resolutions kept by the mass of our culture? Is it that people are not serious about them, don’t have the will power to be consistent? I would suggest to you this morning that the reason that resolutions have such a high rate of failure is because few have a good understanding of how change comes about in their personal lives.
How has God designed us for change in our personal lives? Does it come about only by those who have a strong will? Are they more committed than others? Or, maybe they are just more spiritual?
The Lord Jesus gives us the key to keeping our New Year’s resolutions or any change that we would desire to make that would conform us to being more like Him. Jesus speaks to the issue in the form of a parable.
This parable is given in Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
33 And they (Pharisees and their scribes) said to Him, “The disciples of John (John the Baptist) often fast (denoted a time of sorrow) and offer prayers, the disciples of the Pharisees also do the same, but Yours eat and drink (have a joyful time).” 34 And Jesus said to them, “You cannot make the attendants (disciples of Jesus) of the bridegroom (Jesus-the Messiah) fast while the bridegroom is with them, can you? 35 “But the days will come; and when the bridegroom is taken away from them (His death), then they will fast (they will have their time of sorrow) in those days.” 36 And He was also telling them a parable: “No one tears a piece of cloth from a new garment and puts it on an old garment; otherwise he will both tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old (the new is destroyed and the old isn’t made better). 37 “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined. 38 “But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. 39 “And no one, after drinking old wine wishes for new; for he says, ‘The old is good enough.’ ”(for the Pharisees the old traditions were good enough and were not interested in a righteous kingdom)
The point of Jesus’ parable was you can’t bring Christianity (the new) and place it into Judaism (the old) because it will destroy the new. Judaism has no power to change a person’s life; it could only bring you to place of seeing your need for the new and living way-Jesus Christ.
Again new wine (the new) can’t be placed in old wineskins (the old) because the fermentation of the new will expand the old wineskins which have lost their elasticity and will stretch and burst. In this analogy both Christianity and Judaism would lose their effectiveness- both are destroyed.
The point Jesus is making through the use of this parable is that Christianity (the new) and Judaism (the old) are separate entities. They cannot be mixed!! Judaism, Moses and the Law can’t save you only Christ can do that (Christianity is the new).
The video clip:
Now we can make an application to our lives having understood the parable. You can’t take a New Year’s resolution and place it in the same old self. All the good intentions in the world will never work in an old self (you are just trying to reform yourself).
Religion can reform you but it’s simply trying good things in the old self and it’s powerless to cause change. It’s like placing a corpse on a ventilator. You can take new resolutions and commit yourself to them if you have a new self (Christianity) because you are alive spiritually. Now you have the enablement from God implement any new resolution.
knowing this, that our old (worn out; useless) self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin (sinful desires) might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin (no longer under its domination);
22 that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.
Note: the new resolutions, the new resolves…
25 Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. 26 Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not give the devil an opportunity. 28 He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need. 29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. 30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
Let me ask you a most important and serious questions that deals with whether or not you will spend eternity in heaven or an eternity in the lake of fire.
Are you a reformed person or a regenerated person? Are you seeking to reform your life, or are you a regenerated person? As you begin this new year are your resolutions simply be implemented in the same old garment or old wineskin? Are you spiritually like a corpse connected to ventilator of new resolves? Or, are you a regenerated person by the Spirit of God and your resolutions are simply a lifestyle of taking off the old and putting on the new?
One final warning, Christian, if you are seeking to implement new resolutions; yet, you have unconfessed sin in your life you will only experience failure.