At the start of each new year, many people resolve to drop bad habits and pick up good habits. But did it work last year? Will it work this year? How many times have we made resolutions: to not get angry, to not eat that last piece of chocolate, to be more assertive, to be a better husband, wife, parent, or child? We try our best and may succeed for a while, but eventually something causes us to fail. Then we comfort ourselves by saying, “There is always next year.” Making and breaking resolutions year after year, have you ever considered that what we need is more than a new year’s resolution?
A monkey can be dressed as a human being and taught to walk on two feet, to dance, and to ride a bicycle. The performance may be excellent, but after the music stops and the show ends the monkey is still a monkey. Our situation is similar. We can change our outward habits for a little while, but we cannot change our inward nature. Maybe we try to develop a strong will to control our desires or resist temptations, but regardless of our attempts we do not fully succeed and fundamentally we remain the same.
In the Bible, in Romans 7, we see the personal experience of a man called Paul who struggled to be a good person. He tried very hard, but kept failing in a particular matter. Observing his behaviour, he came to the conclusion that no matter how much he willed to do good by his own effort, he could not do it. Eventually he said in despair, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24)
Fortunately, that is not the end of the story. Paul discovered the secret that would set him free from this frustrating struggle (Philippians 4:12-13; Galatians 2:20). He realised that no amount of resolving would cause him to succeed and that what he needed was a new life. This life is Christ (Colossians 3:4). This does not mean that we live by the power of Christ, but rather, Christ is our life and He is living in us. Romans 8:2 tells us that this life is a law, and that makes it spontaneous. Just as the force of gravity is a law that causes objects to fall to the ground, so the Christian life is a law that accomplishes everything in us automatically. God has given us His Son Jesus Christ to be our life (John 3:16), and with Christ as our life, there is no need to rely on our self-effort but simply allow the law of the Spirit of life to operate in us.
“Lord Jesus Christ,
I want a new start with You as my life.
Thank You that this life is a wonderful law that
will spontaneously operate in me.
Lord Jesus, I open now
to receive You as my life.”