2018 is here, bringing new hope, new beginnings, and new resolutions. The new year can bring second chances and a clean slate, and it can seem so satisfying to turn the calendar page away from the hurts, worries, and failures of the past year and begin anew.
But there’s something about the yearly change of the guard that leaves me on edge. Those new hopes leave my heart open to new disappointments, those new beginnings can suddenly come to a close, and those new resolutions can be quickly broken. Even by the end of January 1st, I realize the challenges of living in this world, and I sense the strength of my flesh warring against me.
I don’t need a second chance. I need a Savior.
I’ll never get it right on my own. I don’t even stand a chance. The world likes to tell me that I can do it, but the reality Jesus reveals is that “apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). As much as that ruffles the feathers of my pride, deep down I know it’s true. I know I’m in need of a God who offers not second chances, but new life.
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
In Christ, I am a new creation. Not a better me, but a new me. A me that’s blameless and above reproach in God’s sight. Jesus Christ has accomplished once for all what I could never hope to attain in a lifetime: He has made me right with God. At the foot of the cross, I am pure and holy for all time. Having once shed His blood, He has washed me completely, and I don’t need a new year or a new start, because what He offers is sufficient. His grace is enough.
Yet I’m often tempted to believe that it’s not enough. Sometimes I think that I need another new start, that I need to do something to begin again, and I inadvertently reject the truth that the regeneration God has worked in me is sufficient. I listen to the lie that says that I’ve ruined His new creation with my sordid sin. I begin to feel useless to serve the Lord, and I imagine that I’m a reject product of God’s workshop.
When that happens, I have to shift my mind off of hopelessness and onto the Giver of hope who has made me acceptable in the Beloved. I need to remember that in God’s courtroom, Jesus is my Advocate, and that when the Righteous Judge looks at me, He sees His Son.
As I walk daily with the Lord, even in the midst of my seeking Him, I will sin. But He has made provision for my every need, including forgiveness and cleansing. He picks me up and dusts me off and helps me keep walking. Never, never again do I need to fear wrath and condemnation. I never need to look for a new stain remover for my sin, and I should never feel too far gone, because the good that the Lord has begun in me He will complete. No matter how I fail this year, His mercies will be new every morning – not just on New Year’s Day.
I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
I’m not going to be a new person in 2018 because I already am a new person, clean from all my uncleanness, with a new heart softened toward God. I don’t follow Christ perfectly, but His forgiveness is enough to cover me, His life is enough to get me through life, and by His Spirit and Word I can continually be renewed and have the courage to overcome.