The “new year” won’t change your life for the better

It’s the first Monday of 2022, and I’ve told myself that I need to get back into the rhythm of reading, studying, and writing. So this is me forcing myself to write at the beginning of the year. Here we go.

I’m sure you’ve had your fill of people in your social media timelines posting their hopes for the coming year, especially hoping that they will “change for the better” this year. Maybe you have even made a similar-sounding post. This is common, as a lot of people naturally think that the beginning of a new year is a logical starting point to make changes in their lives.

Maybe this is just logic and practicality in a lot of us because as everything seems to “refresh” at the beginning of the year, we think that our failed attempts at trying to be a better person may just catch on this time. Maybe this year is the year that we can be better. Maybe this new year will be the start of something good in us.

But I invite you to think about how the Bible approaches personal change and maturity. Maybe you haven’t really checked what the Bible has to say about this, and I thought I might write a small peek into what it has to say about this.

The Main Problem

The Bible says that the source of the problem is our status in relation to God. Maybe you don’t believe in God, but the Bible surely declares that there is a God who created the universe and everything in it. And on the basis of the argument that he created everything (out of nothing but his will), he also owns everything and therefore has authority over everything. If he made it, he owns it. And if he owns it, he has authority over it.

For the Lord is God,
and he created the heavens and earth
and put everything in place.
He made the world to be lived in,
not to be a place of empty chaos.
“I am the Lord,” he says,
“and there is no other.
Isaiah 45:18 (New Living Translation)

In fact, all of humanity — you and me included — as having been created by the power of God (check Genesis 1 and 2 for this) is also under the direct ownership, authority, and sovereignty of God. Now if you process this correctly, you will already feel the tension of the situation — a sovereign creator God who owns everything versus a whole planet full of people who think the universe is about them and should cater to their wants and desires. But sadly, this is not the full extent of the problem.

Our main problem is that this sovereign creator God who owns everything is also a holy God. Much unlike us, he is perfect and pure and righteous in all his ways — he is beyond us — and he will not tolerate disobedience and rebellion from his creation, but that is exactly what we did (check Genesis 3). In the garden, Adam and Eve rebelled against God and that rebellion has marked all of humanity ever since — our hearts are intentionally disobedient against God, and this is the root of our “new year” issue.

The problems and issues that we have — we curse and say bad words, we abuse our bodies when we drink abusively and smoke abusively, we watch porn, we disrespect our parents, we are unfaithful, we are deceitful, we are prone to lust, we are bitter against people and ourselves, we get angry at the smallest things, we rage against everything — all these little and big deviances that have been following you around for the past years, these all boil down to one thing: SIN.

This is at the root of our “new year” resolutions. And the problem is fundamental — the new year can’t fix this. We can’t fix this. Sin is the reason why 100% of start-of-year resolutions invariably fail.

An Alternative Way of “Fixing” the Issue

The root of sin is actually the desires behind it. In theory, we may understand that something is bad or good. But in reality, our hearts function differently. We function on the basis of desire, and if something feels good — we desire it, and we will do everything in our power to get it. Our sinful hearts are drawn not to what is right in the presence of a holy and sovereign creator God, but to what will make us feel good.

So the Bible’s solution for change inevitably runs through the heart, through a change of desires. You see, our hearts are spiritually dead in our sins (Ephesians 2:1–2), and as such, we cannot bring ourselves to desire that which God desires. Our sin has caused our hearts to be numb to the things of God, and therefore we cannot want it. Every new year, we nostalgically feel that desire to be a better person. But in truth, our hearts will lead the way and we will continue to do that which feels good for us — and a lot of that (if not all of that) is sinful and selfish and against the will of God. This is why we end up every December failing at these things we resolved to change in January.

This is where Jesus comes into the picture. Through his death on the cross, he has made our dead hearts alive.

But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 2:4–6 (New Living Translation)

The language here is unmistakable. Christ, through his death and resurrection, has made us alive in him. We were “dead because of our sins”, but God “gave us life”, he has “raised us from the dead along with Christ”!

Jesus is the Only Way Towards Lasting Change

The problems that we have stems from our sinful hearts, and in the end, it is only Jesus that can change our hearts so that we can desire what God wants.

He starts this change by changing our priorities from selfish ones to God-centered ones. And then through a long process of maturing and “growing up” in Him (we call this discipleship and sanctification), he perfects us so that in the end, we end up just how God wants us to be — and that is to be like Christ.

Our old “dead” hearts abhor this because, in our rebellious state, we want to do what we want and get what we want. But the change of heart — from “dead” to “alive” — is what we need to make these changes catch on so that we can now desire what God wants.

This is not an easy path to take. It is a path of faith and repentance, of constant correction, of community, and investing in the lives of others. But once Jesus starts these changes in you, it is sure to happen (not like the uncertainty of your resolutions). Jesus himself promises to finish the work he starts in you.

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.
Philippians 1:6 (New Living Translation)

RESPONSE:
Are you thinking about this? Do you have questions about this process? Send me an email at
johnhofilena@gmail.com or send me a message through Messenger here: m.me/johnhofilena.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.