Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Life

So, are you gearing up for the New Year and thinking about what resolutions you should make? Or what you could do to make you a better you? Got a picture of the new and improved you in mind?

Be cautious.

I want to remind you that a really great man, one of this world’s best ever, failed dismally at doing what he thought he should and of keeping his promises and resolutions. Through his failure, Paul found something vitally important which he passed on to you and me, the first axiom of resolutions:

“For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” (Rom 7:18b NIV)

Whoopee! Happy New Year! Now, I don’t mean to rain on your parade, but I do mean to save you from something – the way of the flesh. The flesh suggests an interpretation of life (“You’re not doing well in life because you’re overweight.”) and a course for living (“No more carbs or chocolate, exercise for an hour every day and get a new wardrobe.”), which, if successfully followed, will seemingly make life work. Or, because things aren’t going your way (interpretation of life), you are frustrated and depressed. So, get drunk, take a drug, eat a gallon of ice cream, look at pornography, get raging mad and you’ll feel better (course for living).

What’s missing? The Holy Spirit! You and I are no longer flesh, but spirit. If we are induced to live as if we had not become spirit, as if we had not been born again, we will live by the flesh. And the end of that is futility.

12 So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh -- 13 for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. (Rom 8:12-14 NASU)

Want to live? Then for you, life is by the Spirit. Life isn’t first something to do, or something to be done, but something to receive.

Here’s what I suggest: start your day, not with a list of things to do, but with a question. “What does God say He has done to me?” “In God’s eyes, who have I become?” “According to God, how do I live in this day?” “Father, what do you think of me?” Questions like these will cause you to sow to the Spirit. What will happen?

1. God’s life will be released in you. What’s better than that?
“For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” (Gal 6:8 NASU) Your mind will be renewed, and you will be transformed (Rom 12:2).

2. You will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.”
(Gal 5:16 NASU)

3. You will know that there is not, nor will there ever be, one single moment of condemnation for you ever again. Following after the flesh will never allow that for you, but following after the Spirit will always keep that fact close.

“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Rom 8:1-4 NASU, italics mine.)

Want a happy new life? A new look? A new way? Living by the Spirit will manifest the life of Christ in you, and He will fulfill every need in you, for you, and for the new you.

And in this New Year, you’ll be better off than you think.


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