It’s almost the new year which means it’s time to review my resolutions from last year. The fact that I have to review them is probably the first indicator that things didn’t exactly work out. Fortunately, I’m not alone. According to the University of Scranton, only 8 percent of people actually achieve their resolution.
Resolutions represent what matters most – family, faith, health – yet we are terrible about making progress. For me, this time of year brings up the uncomfortable reality that I don’t do the things I want to do, nor am I the person I want to be.
Romans 7:19-25 illustrates this struggle:
For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
We want to honor God, we want to walk free from sin and we want to serve others, but often we do the exact opposite.
This feels depressing, but this is the Gospel. We cannot fix ourselves; that is the whole point. Jesus rescued us from our sin through salvation; that is the beginning. But His work didn’t stop there.
Too often, we receive salvation as a free gift, but then go right back to trying to fix ourselves and live righteously.
And inevitably we fail because we still cannot fix ourselves.
What is the solution?
- Confess your need. Romans 7:18 is a cry for help. Confessing our need to God and to others is often the first step to breakthrough. Why? Because God moves in the humble, those who recognize they cannot fix themselves.
- Seek Jesus. Romans 8:5-6 describes the power of living by the Spirit. This comes from a lifestyle of seeking God. Spend time with God in the morning, set aside time to pray throughout the day and make worship a lifestyle. Rather than condemning yourself over your sin, pray for help! The more you are full of Jesus the more you will look like Him.
- Stand on your identity. Romans 8 is a powerful portrait of our identity in Christ. When we fail, we easily believe the lie that we are a failure. The longer we fail, the more entrenched the lie becomes. Eventually you will live out who you think you are. Start walking in freedom by declaring the promises in this chapter, even if you don’t feel it. To become who you want to be you have to know who you already are.
By all means, have resolutions this year. But resolve first and foremost to radically seek Jesus and you will soon find that there is power for everything else.
By Drew Steadman, Director of Ministries and U.S. Church Planting