As we head into a New Year, we will hear a ton of messages about how the new year is supposed to be for a “new me.” We are supposed to make ourselves look and feel better whether that is going to the gym more, starting a new diet, helping more in the community, traveling more, getting a handle on our finances, etc. While nothing is inherently wrong with those goals, what is wrong with this theory is that it is all about ME! It leaves out the whole idea that we cannot do anything apart from God. He just doesn’t exist in this picture of “New Year, New Me.”
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The only way we can be made new is through Christ on the cross. In Him, we leave our old selves and find our new, beautiful, children of god selves. God’s mercy is new every morning and every day represents an opportunity to repent, refresh our faith and make a change in our hearts.
Made New in Christ
Your story may not be my story but I want to share how God saved me and made me new. I want to give you hope that your past does not disqualify you from entering into God’s family. No matter who we were, or what we’ve done, God desires to give us a hope-filled future through faith in Jesus Christ.
When I was lost to myself in sin, I used to think that I could set aside all godly principles or, worse, pick and choose the ones I wanted to abide by and pursued my fleshly desires. Instead of committed relationships, I settled for casual, meaningless, physical relationships because it made me feel wanted. Instead of drinking in moderation, I would go out every night and party excessively into the wee hours of the night because I thought it was the cool thing to do.
I look back in my life and see that the one thing that was holding me back was me and the people I surrounded myself with. Sure, I had plenty of godly people who spoke truth into my life but I was too self-absorbed to listen. I decided to surround myself with people who I thought were my close friends and encouraged me to make decisions that I would later regret. Because I decided to hang out with these people, I was being pulled farther and farther away from Christ.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17.
Luckily, those people who loved me and knew what was best me for me stuck around and prayed that I would come back to Christ. With their persistent prayer, God called me out of my old self and made me into a new creation in Him. He sent me to Africa for a year and a half to show me that His way is the only way. I was redeemed by His grace back into His family. He continues to mold me more into the woman he intends me to be each day.
Restored in Christ
There is only one power that leads and guides us in our limitations as humans, and that is God. Because we are united with Christ in both his death and resurrection, our sins are forgiven and we participate in a new creation. That is, we receive all of the benefits of being restored into a rightful relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
“And I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20.
His ways are not meant to make our life boring, far from it. We get to enjoy a new, better way of living in Him. A life worth living for with the ultimate purpose of fulfilling His plan for our lives and glorifying His kingdom. The best part is that we don’t have to feel the agony of not being accepted by the world because we are accepted by God as His children, flaws and all.
No Longer Slaves to Sin
God doesn’t intend for us to continue to live as slaves to sin. The message of the cross is freedom from sin – in its righteous power and judgment. On the day you were born again, you became a new person with a brand new identity, one that is transformed into the likeness of Christ.
“You took off your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires; you are being renewed in the spirit of your minds; you put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth.” Ephesians 4:22-24.
With this new identity, you took off your former way of living – a life dominated by your fleshly desires. While it’s true that we will often be tempted to return to our old ways, it’s not true that we must succumb to the power of them. Jesus overcame the power of darkness and reigned victoriously! All believers in Him get to share in that same victory.
As you go into the new year, carry the hope of redeeming grace with you everywhere you go. You can go before God just as you are, baggage and all. As believers, our identities are changed forever.
Pray that you will release whatever it might be that you’re holding onto into the hands of the ultimate life-changer, Jesus Christ. Ask the Lord to help you each day to pursue Christ, seek to imitate His ways and truly see the beauty in your renewal.
Why wait for the new year to roll around? You can experience a new beginning – complete with a past that has been wiped clean – today and forevermore.
**Verses used in this post were taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible Translation.