New Life for a New Year

This is the time of year when people make New Year's resolutions. They often see a need—something that needs to change—and they purpose to accomplish it this year. Some will fulfill their goals while others fail or quit before the month is over. But what Jesus offers is that which changes a person from the inside-out. He gives new life.

Jesus spoke a parable (an earthly story with a heavenly meaning) to the Pharisees who thought they were righteous in God’s eyes because of their religious works (Luke 18:9-14). They thought they had reached spiritual perfection because of their outward actions, but their hearts were not right with God (Matthew 15:7-9). Jesus said to them, “No man putteth a piece of a new garment on an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh away from the garment, and the rent is made worse.  Neither do men put new wine into old bottles, else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish; but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved” (Matthew 9:16, 17).

Self-reformation and resolutions are not able to make one right with God. The old life of sin is never compatible with the new life of Christ. They are opposites. Trying to patch up the old life with outward attempts of good works and religious activities never changes the heart. A person needs a completely new life. We deceive ourselves if we think that by trying to be religious we can merit points with God. We must be changed from the inside-out, a work accomplished only by Christ.

Salvation is exclusively in Christ. “Jesus said unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me” (John 14:6). “Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Only Jesus Christ can transform our lives. “Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). May you receive your new life for this new year.

— The author of this article, Phil Flaming, serves as a pastor of the Highway Bible Church in Placerville, California, and is a contributor to Feature: A Daily Bible Study Guide.