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A New Year’s Resolution You Can Keep

The History of New Year’s Resolutions

New Year’s resolutions seem to be as much a part of our traditions for starting the New Year as collard greens, black-eyed peas and football.

Many believe these resolutions date back some 4,000 years to the Babylonians, then to Julius Caesar, the Roman empire and their god Janus, from whose name we get January.

New Year’s resolutions also have their history in the early Christian church through John Wesley as a part of the “Watch Night” services held on New Year’s Eve.

This is when Christians would watch and pray for the Lord to search their hearts, convict of sins, and help them grow and change spiritually.

What Do We Resolve to Change?

Today, our resolutions are usually less spiritual, more focused on self-improvement. We resolve to change things about ourselves to accomplish our own goals. The most popular resolutions include eating less and better, exercising more, quitting smoking or becoming a better parent or spouse.

However, the focus of all these resolutions remains on things we do for ourselves, with our own resolve and according to our own standards.

Maybe the reason these resolutions are so quickly forgotten or abandoned is that they begin and end with us as individuals. The problem is not that the goals themselves are bad—it’s thinking we can achieve them in our own strength.

Scriptural Truths About Resolutions

For Christians, a few familiar truths from God’s Word bring immediate hope and help in getting our focus back where it needs to be:

  • “I am the vine, you are the branches. If you remain in Me, and I in you, you will bear much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing.” —John 15:5
  • “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here!” —2 Corinthians 5:17
  • “I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.” —Philippians 4:13

The thought that we can live well apart from God began in the Garden of Eden with lies from our adversary the Devil. What produced a bad outcome then continues to produce bad outcomes now.

The Truth Shall Set You Free

“To the Jews who had believed Him, Jesus said “If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples. Then you will know the Truth and the Truth shall set you free.” —John 8:31-32

This passage is a wonderful truth and is so essential to understanding the Christian life. The Jewish people had the Old Testament, including the Law and the Prophets. They knew that a Messiah was coming.

Hearing Jesus teach they were among the first to recognize Him as the Son of God, which means they were saved, they were born again. It’s to these people that Jesus said that if they held to His teaching, or continued in His Word, they would become His true disciples.

This means they would move from entry-level Christianity to a growing, thriving, one-on-one relationship with Him equal to that of the 12 disciples. That relationship with Jesus is what would result in their knowing the truth that would set them free.

Leaning on a Relationship with Christ

Their one-on one personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Himself would make them free from the hurt, heartache, and besetting sins of their past (2 Corinthians 5:17); and free to have the abundant life that He came to give (John 10:10).

Now as then, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17).  Jesus continued in John 8:36 when He said “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”  In this passage, He was teaching of being slaves to sin, and the freedom that we have in Him.

A game changer in life is when we realize that the things that we view as bad habits or shortcomings from our perspective are in reality sins from His perspective, and our hope is in repentance not resolutions.

Shifting Our Focus

As we think about starting a New Year, what if our focus becomes to strengthen our personal relationship with our Lord Jesus. To become true disciples by investing meaningful, daily time in His Word and in prayer.

Sincerely ask Him what things He would like for us to work on in building our character, our lives and our relationships to His standards. Then trust Him to help us accomplish those things through the power of His Holy Spirit. Hold to His teachings through our daily decisions a day. Allow His Word to guide our everyday choices.

Somewhere along the way, we realize that what began as a doctrinal truth becomes a person. He is the Truth, and the One who will once and for all set us free from the hurt, heartache, and besetting sins of yesterday. He frees us to have the abundant life that He came to give.

Life will become less of me and more of Him, and as the Apostle Paul we will grow to “know Him and the power of His resurrection.” That is a resolution worth keeping!