New Year’s Resolutions

Yep, in just a few days we’re facing the end of another year!  Where has the time gone? Before us now is that time of the year where so many decide it is time for   a change; lose a few pounds, eat healthy, go to the gym, bring back personal discipline, lose a few pounds, read my bible every day, pray every day, go to church regularly (hint, hint), etc.  But really, why do we go through this exercise of putting confidence in ourselves?  The Gospel ceases to be good news when it becomes about us getting better or the new improved us.  Besides, all of these resolutions are misplaced.  How many times have you made the resolution, “I will never do….again!”  We all know how that worked out.  The modern day Christian message, “Do more and try harder!”  will leave you defeated just like most of your New Year’s resolutions.  The Good News for us is what Jesus has done.  The only real resolution any of us needs to make is to remember what our Savior has done.  Give up on all of your self-improvement projects and rest in what He has done and wants to do through you.  He’s leading us to ever greater  Christ-confidence.  Transformation doesn’t take place through grit and determination.  Transformation takes place when we realize we can’t do it but He has, He will!

Romans 6:5–6 “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.”

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, He starts this section with “For if,” Paul is speaking to the church, the saints and it has the idea of “since.”  All of this is conditioned on our receiving, by faith, the finished work of the cross.  The word “united” means “to graft a branch into another.”  The grafting process brought the branch of one vine into another.  It pictures the complete breaking of one relationship and the beginning of an entirely new one.  We are united with Christ in His death.  This death was necessary so we could be free from our place in Adam.  We are no longer in Adam, in any sense.  The tie is totally broken.

we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. You cannot die with Christ and not be risen with him.  To be united in the likeness of His death requires we also be united to Him in His resurrection.  We aren’t people of the grave and the church should never be a place of death.  We are a resurrection people living out of His resurrection life.  We are a people who’ve left death behind to a whole new way of living.

We know that our old self was crucified with him; “Knowing this” Paul is saying to the believers this is something you should know.  This is an important truth.  Jesus was crucified, and we were crucified, too.  When we received Christ the old us – the sinner born in Adam,  was crucified and put to death.  Old here doesn’t refer to chronological age but to something that is completely worn out and useless.  Isn’t that an incredible picture of what life apart from Christ, in Adam, did to us?  It left us worn out and useless.  We died with Him because we needed to.  Death was the only way we could be free from what we were in Adam –  sinners.

Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

The Old Self is dead!  Don’t believe the lie that you are both sinner and saint when it comes to your identity.  No, the Old Self went to the cross and died there and was left behind in the grave.  You have risen to a whole new life with a whole new way of living.  Not to say you don’t have the capacity to sin.  The scripture is saying sin no longer defines you!  That’s incredible/amazing/fantastic news!  We see in these verses the repeated theme that a complete transformation has taken place.  You didn’t just die, you were crucified with Christ.  It is not you with a make-over or an improved version of the old you.  All you were in Adam is now dead and in the grave.  But notice, it is a truth we must remind ourselves.  Everything we were in Adam had to be done away with so we could experience His life.  Our task is to believe the good news, rather than to seek to bring about this crucifixion ourselves.

We are spirits dwelling in human bodies.  Your physical body is not you!  The world gets it all backwards.  They draw their identity from their looks and their ability to do things.  We are not primarily physical beings,  but the core of who we are is our spirit.  We are spirit beings who live in a body.  The part of you that went to the cross was your spirit.  The spirit is the immaterial part of you which relates to God and was dead because of sin.  Your spirit, now alive to God through faith in the finished work of the cross, is eternal.  It is in beautiful union with your creator.  That isn’t some future event but your present reality.

in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, brought to nothing is “katargeo” meaning to render inoperative or invalid.  Our body of sin has been rendered powerless.  The idea is of making something ineffective by removing its power of control.  One commentator described it as “put out of business.”  We need to see that sin is powerless to control us.  It only has the power we give to it.  Your sinful nature, the sum total of your sin is rendered powerless.  The devil can’t make you do anything.  Will you confess with me?  The enemy, sin, has no power over me!

so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.  We were born slaves of sin and did the master’s bidding.  However, now that we are in Christ our slavery has been broken and we have a new master!  It doesn’t mean we aren’t capable of sinning but we are no longer under the control of sin.  We do not have to sin!  If we do, it is because we allow it to happen.  But we are no longer slaves to sin.

The Old Self is dead but the flesh is alive and well.  New birth in Christ brings death to the sinful self, but it does not bring death to the flesh.  The Bible talks about the flesh as distinct from the Old Self.  The Old Self was our identity in Adam, our sinful nature which was crucified.  The flesh is all we do in self-sufficiency.  It is the self life that was trained by the Old Self.

This year don’t try and improve yourself through determination.  Give all of your resolutions a rest and rest in what Jesus has done for you and all He desires to do through you.  At the end of all our resolutions we encounter the grace of God and begin to experience the release of His indwelling life.

Four years ago this week Vanessa and I arrived in Boerne.  Thank you for all of your support and encouragement to us.  I hope you had a great Christmas.  We had an incredible Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services.  Our church auditorium and overflow room were very full.  I also want to congratulate you on your generosity.  I believe we’ve exceeded our goal of $15,000 for our Christmas missions offering.

Yes, I realize Sunday is New Year’s Day.  Yes, we’ll be back to our regular schedule of 8:30 and 10:40.  What better way to start the New Year than corporate worship.  I’m really looking forward to another year as your pastor.

You are loved!

Pastor Tim