As the New Year comes, let us remember that Jesus came to make all things new - from the spiritual to the physical and everything in between. As we set goals and resolve to do better, let us fix our eyes on the perfect Person of Christ who draws near to us in our most imperfect states. Let us surrender our dreams and desires, quirks and quotas, fears and failures, virtues and victories to Him this year.
Let’s exchange self-reliance for God dependence, resolutions for radical transformation, and watch Him bring an inner change to our hearts that would only be possible through Him.
Let us look back this time next year and humbly say, “I resemble Christ more today than yesterday.”
“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come!" (2 Corinthians 5:17).
If you have placed your faith in Jesus as Savior, you have been spiritually born again, made new and are on a life-long journey to being restored to the likeness of God. There is nothing out of reach in this divine regeneration.
But we can’t always see for ourselves, or even within ourselves, that the new has come.
Being a new creation may suggest that we are polished and shiny, refreshed and repaired, undamaged and unspoiled by sin. It may hint that we are healed and whole, which we know to be untrue from the reality seen in ourselves and others. We are mistake ridden in a fallen world. We groan along with all of creation as if it were in labor, aching to be delivered and restored to its original state (Romans 8:22).
The type of newness described in Scripture may seem unattainable, kind of like our New Year’s resolutions come February.
From an eternal perspective, being a new creation in Christ means that upon death we will receive new and immortal bodies that will never grow sick or old or tired. There will be a new heaven and new earth, where all the old remnants of sin will be wiped away (Isaiah 65:17, Revelation 21:1). It is hard to even conceive of this kind of perfect and permanent newness, although God in His goodness does give us glimpses.
The newness God gives isn’t just for eternity but for every day we’re alive on earth.
From a daily and perhaps more relevant perspective, this means that our old strongholds, hang ups and hurtful habits can be conquered and made new through Jesus (Romans 8:37). Our response to triggers and traps can be made new. Our perspective can be made new. Our cravings and addictions can be traded for new and healthier desires.
We are implored by the apostle Paul to “… put off the old self with its practices and put on the new self” (Colossians 3:9-10a).
Newness in Christ isn’t abstract or theoretical but practical and empirical. If a person is putting on the new self, we will see evidence of how Christ is changing him or her for the good of others and glory of God.
Paul likens being a new creation to putting on a new outfit, tailor made and ready to be worn.
“ … clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another … just as the Lord has forgiven you … Above all, put on love” (Colossians 3:12-14).
Who of us would prefer to put on old, stained and ill-fitted clothing when brand new attire hangs in our closest? Yet isn’t that what we do when we fail to put on Christ?
The problem is, when it comes to our own spirituality, we cannot dress ourselves any more than an infant can change his own diaper. Left to our own devices, we will struggle (and mostly fail) to take off the old self and put on the attributes of Christ. Our motivation cannot be merely moral excellence. If it is, we will stumble and stagger around like holy hobos.
The glory of the Gospel is the admission that we can’t do anything on our own but that Christ can do all things in us. The only way we can put on the new self is by the Spirit of Christ at work within us. Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith and the Designer of our spiritual wardrobe, is Who makes us new for eternity and for today (Hebrews 12:2).
“You are being renewed in knowledge according to the image of your Creator” (Colossians 3:10b).
This “being renewed” is written in a present perfect tense, meaning it is something that was started in the past that still continues in the present. We are in a process of being renewed and returned to the image of our Creator.
My daddy was in the print business for nearly 30 years. Before he could begin a job, he needed an original image to set in the printing press that would then be imprinted upon the many pages ran through the press. No matter what was being printed or how many copies were being made, the project always started with one perfect image. The mark of a good print job was that the copies looked identical to the original, with the ink evenly impressed without any streaks or splotches.
Each of us is made in the image of our heavenly Father, embossed like a fine announcement to be sent out into the world (Genesis 1:27). But sin smears the image of God in us, making His attributes nearly illegible. Sin makes us look more like a crumpled copy than a new creation. But the death and resurrection of Jesus made it possible for us to be renewed and reprinted according to the image of God.
The embossing plates used for my wedding invitations sit on a shelf in my study, as a tangible reminder of vows made. The scripted letters etched into the metal are reversed and can only be read when held up to a mirror. When placed in the press, however, the invitations came out perfectly, imprinted just as they were intended.
These metal plates portray a Biblical truth that sometimes the way the Lord goes about imprinting His image on us seems backward. Where we have prayed for healing, revival and resurrection, He sometimes brings death, downturns and devastating finality. His plan doesn’t always match our plan. We don’t understand how anything new or good could be made out of something so bleak.
But just because we don’t understand it doesn’t mean it’s not possible. If I had never held the printed wedding invitations in my hand, I might not believe that they would turn out so beautifully just by looking at the backwards metal plates.
“For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” (I Corinthians 13:12).
With Christ, all things are possible (Philippians 4:13). When we have the Holy Spirit within us, we have the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead (Romans 8:11). All throughout Scripture the saints asked if anything was too hard for God, only to be shocked by the way He answered and far exceeded their expectations (Genesis 18:14).
While God will not likely give us step-by-step instructions on how He will renew a particular person or situation or how He will help us hurdle our heart aches, He has given us His written Word to assure us of His intentions. We can choose in faith to believe that He will make all things new and will complete the good work He began in us, simply because He said He would (Numbers 23:19, Philippians 1:6, Titus 1:2).
The greatest goal we can make this year is to grow in the image of God, measuring ourselves against the full and complete standard of Christ (Ephesians 4:13). We can choose transformation through the work of Jesus over resolutions through our own will power. We can set ourselves before God, day after day, and let His Word imprint His image into our hearts.
Abide in Jesus this New Year and continue being made new by Him.