The word literal is complicated. According to one of the first definitions in the dictionary, literal means: “adhering...to the ordinary construction of primary meaning of a term or expression.” In other words, being literal can just mean saying what you mean to say, giving primary importance in the moment to...
Happy New Year to everyone! It seems natural that the first day of a new year will prompt us to think of the future. After all, it’s when everyone starts making resolutions and filling in blank calendars.
Christian, let’s not get lost in looking forward when there is so much to look back on as well. As we start this new year, I want to encourage you to remember these two realities, and to respond with this one response.
1.) In Christ, we are a new creation.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Making a resolution for the new year is fun. It’s cultural, relevant, and it brings excitement to the new year. In a culture where we insist on calling ourselves complete—”That’s just who I am” or “That’s just who he is,” it is nice to have some sort of accepted cultural activity in which we can admit to the need for self-improvement.
Of course, if you listen to anyone talk about their New Year’s resolution, they likely talk about it tongue-in-cheek. For the discussion of this year’s resolution brings up the memory of last year’s failed one.
The phenomena of making and failing New Year’s resolutions is interesting to me because it is a study in human inability to cause change.
Why do we often fail our goals? Perhaps it is because they are largely undefined. Perhaps it is because we don’t take them seriously. There may be many reasons. The most significant I can think of is that nothing extraordinary happens between 11:59 p.m. on the evening of December 31 and 12:00 a.m. on January 1.
You are the same person you were just minutes before.
Becoming a Christian
Becoming a Christian is different. Paul explains in 2 Corinthians that something extraordinary happens when a person is in Jesus Christ. Their old self is gone, and they are made new.
You are no longer the man who is prone to bullying. You are no longer the woman who can’t help but lie. That person no longer exists.
2.) As Christians, we rejoice in the new covenant.
Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. (Jeremiah 31:31)
And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. (Luke 22:20)
The new covenant was promised in the Old Testament, and Jesus fulfilled that promise in the New Testament. Read what the author of Hebrews has to say about Jesus and this new covenant:
Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. (Hebrews 9:15)
A few things to note here in this verse, and I am going to work backward. First, Christians have been redeemed from their sins. The old covenant would have had us prepare and sacrifice and offering to the Lord to atone for our sins, but not the new covenant. The new covenant is established and it says we are redeemed. In other words, the old self is gone and the new self is here.
Second, Jesus had to die for this redemption to happen. The new covenant did require sacrifice. But unlike the old covenant which required many sacrifices, the new covenant required one sacrifice to end them all: Jesus’s death on the cross.
Third, the result of Jesus’s death, and the redemption of His people, is that Christians receive the promised eternal inheritance. God has not only atoned for our sins, but He also welcomes us as sons and daughters into His family.
Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts. (Psalm 33:3)
Looking for something new to do this year? Something that will be a little bit of a challenge, that will take discipline, and that will benefit you? Sing to the Lord a new song.
This is a fun imperative because the meaning is refreshed every time you think of it. If you praise the Lord one way, and you want to accomplish the goal again later, you have to do it in a new way.
God’s glory is inexhaustible, and the Bible tells us we will spend eternity worshipping Him (Isaiah 66:23). So, there has to be plenty of room for creativity when it comes to praising God.
New songs of praise are an indicator of Christian who is focused on the Lord, whose mercies “are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:23). And God empowers us in this creative work, as David reveals:
He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God. (Psalm 40:3)
Newness—new life, new covenant, new songs—come from God. Let us continually worship Him this new year!