When we set out to make positive changes in our lives, our efforts usually start out strong but quickly fade, with little lasting effect. What the Bible tells us about making a new start can change that. Let’s look at the typical approach to effecting change in our lives and compare it to God’s approach.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”–2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)
Approach 1: Changing the Old
One approach to making changes in our lives is to focus on negative things, and then attempt to change them for the better. Certainly, there is no shortage of self-help books, tapes, and lectures prescribing this approach. But it fails us so often because it operates under the direct influence of our sinful human nature. We may enter an improvement plan with a lot of enthusiasm and energy, but over time we gradually revert back to old habits and behaviors. Underneath, we are in a continual battle with the sinful nature that drew us into the negative behaviors in the first place. Usually, we simply tire from the fight and relent. We are trying to change the old.
Approach 2: Replace the Old with the New
God’s approach to improvement is completely different. It starts with the word that is central to all of God’s activities: new.
God is the eternal expert on “new.” God spoke all of creation into being, making it all new. God continues making things new all the time. Let’s look at some of the ways He does this:
New Mercies: God extends new mercy to us each day (Lamentations 3:22-23). Each day is a new opportunity to receive His loving kindness and to start fresh. Nothing that has happened in the past, whether yesterday or years ago, can remove God’s love and forgiveness. He has it ready and waiting, simply for the asking. To God, every day is New Year’s Day, and each is filled with the opportunities and promise we usually assign only to January 1!
New Hearts: God does not promise to change our hearts; He promises to give us new hearts and then to fill them with His Spirit (Ezekiel 36:26)! The Bible likens our human, sinful hearts to stone—hard to penetrate and hard to change. So rather than chiseling away at our old stony heart, God offers to take it away and replace it with a heart that is soft and pliable and able to contain His Spirit—which is His power to help us focus on the things He focuses on.
New Creations: Armed with new hearts that are filled with His Spirit, and acutely aware of His never-ending mercies, we are not who we used to be. No longer dragged down by our sinful nature, we are new creations, reborn into new lives (John 3:3). God sent His Son, Jesus, into the world to make us new (John 3:16). Jesus taught us that patching the old wasn’t the answer; being made new in Him was the key (Matthew 9:17).
You can truly change things by giving the “old” to God and letting Him replace it with the “new.” That’s the truth.
If you are in Christ, you have a new, soft heart filled with His Spirit. Your old, hard heart of stone is gone! If you are in Christ, you can confidently receive His new mercies every day. You don’t have to wait for another New Year’s Day to come around to start over! If you are in Christ, you are a whole new creation. The old you is gone, and the new you has come!
That’s the YouTruth. In Christ, you are a new creation.
© 2009, 2011 Dan Buckhout