Another commitment that we can make for the new year is to turn away from our sins -- by that I mean that we won't just accept them, and think well, there's nothing I can do about them. Let's think about this logically; why do we accept the slavery that is offered by the devil, when God is offering us freedom?
Let's dive in!
Living here in America, the War Between the States, or the Civil War as it's called by many, is part of our heritage. There are things in our past that we are not proud of, but we can point to noble and principled ancestors on both sides who showed courage, and that gives us our roots. Back in that storied past, we can read of groups of slaves who were freed by their masters, either before or after the war. This story was repeated both in the north and in the south; many slaves who were told they were free would remain with their former owners and continue to do what they were told. They had been set free, but they chose to live their lives as slaves.
The New Testament tells us that is exactly how many Christians live. Christ died and rose again to set them free. The Holy Spirit is ready daily to give them power to live freely, but just like those former slaves they still choose to obey their old master, sin.
For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— .....For sin shall no longer be your master.... (Romans 6:6,14a)This is a resolution that will make 2017 truly significant for us. God tells us in that same chapter:
He is telling us to turn our backs on those sins. For many of us, it's the same old sins. Every time. Folks used to call those "besetting sins." Particular sins that we are prone to doing time and time again. When we are saved, there are many sins that we give up easily, but there are other things that we battle with again and again, though we know they certainly are wrong. We may even end up choosing to give in to our besetting sins, and accepting them as part of our lives.
But our sins are not things we should "learn to live with." Right? Are our spiritual lives crippled with sins that we have learned to live with?
Do we have a critical attitude that we know is wrong?
Is there a sexual sin that we give in to?
Do we have a quick temper that we just accept, and say "that's how I am"?
Do we speak negatively about others, and wound their hearts?
There in God's Word, He is challenging us to turn our backs on those sins. To stop letting them control the way we live. To stop giving in. To stop obeying our old master.
Jesus' death and resurrection broke the power of sin, and the Holy Spirit can give us the power to resist sin each day. That means that we don't have to go into the new year, still being defeated by the same old sin. We can have victory over it!
God says that we are no longer slaves to sin, so we shouldn't act like we are. If we will ask for His forgiveness for our sins, and (here's the important part) ask for His help to resist that sin, then 2017 can be a new page in our spiritual lives.
Do you love new calendars? Cute puppies, gorgeous lighthouses, they are all blank slates for us to write on in the new year. This year can be a real celebration if we will make forgiveness the heart of what it's all about . . .
It will take courage to:
Forgive ourselves and forget the hurtful past.
Forgive others who have hurt us.
Ask others to forgive us when we've been wrong.
Ask God to forgive us and help us resist those stubborn, besetting sins.
Do we have the courage and determination to accept the freedom He gives us, and make 2017 a fabulous year of growth in Him?