Generally speaking most people don’t have much success with their New Year’s resolutions. Even the strong willed have trouble keeping them and before long, they fail to keep one or more, maybe even all of them. Why is this the case? Well, I’m sure everyone has an opinion as to why, but the purpose of this blog is to focus on the spiritual side of life and to look at things from God’s perspective, as in “what saith the Lord.”
Thus, from that perspective the reason why resolutions don’t work is because the effort is coming from one’s self, and is dependent upon the strength of one’s will. The human will is part of our flesh nature which is flawed and full of weaknesses. Bad habits ingrained in our flesh nature are difficult to change or remove. This is where the power of God comes in and the secret to overcoming bad habits is not trying harder because your own strength isn’t enough. While we need to make an effort, there are times when our own strength just isn’t enough and we need outside help.
Rom 7:18 And I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwells no good thing; for I have the desire, but I am not able to perform that which is good.
Rom 7:19 For I do not do the good that I desire; but the evil which I do not desire, that I do.
Rom 7:20 And if I do that which I do not desire, I am not working, but sin that dwells in me.
Rom 7:21 So that, desiring to do good, I find this law: evil is natural unto me. (Get that? Evil is natural to you which is why you need supernatural intervention).
The secret to overcoming anything is not to focus on your faults and flaws, but on Christ. Understand that “It’s not by power, nor by might (human strength), but by My Spirit, saith the Lord” that a mountain shall be removed.” [Zec 4:6] A mountain in scripture can pertain to several things, but in this study and passage, a mountain is a metaphor for a problem that’s bigger than you, something which will require outside help if you’re to remove it from your path.
Many times we just have to lean harder on God and trust Him more to do what we in our own strength cannot do. It is written, “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” If we seek Him we will find Him – Luk 11:9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
To do that you need to turn to Him in utter humility, admitting that you can’t do it by yourself, that you NEED Him to help you. “Without Me you can do nothing,” said Jesus. You continue to seek Him in prayer daily, hourly, if need be, until you get the freedom you desire and that I’m sure God desires for you. Jesus came to set the captives free [Isa 42:7]. A captive is anyone who’s in bondage to sin. You might not be able to stop cussing for example, or smoking, or drinking, etc., etc. the list is endless.
Sometimes, no matter how much asking, seeking, and knocking you do, you still can’t get free. That’s the time you should be asking if you need deliverance from demonic bondage, and/or if you really want to be free from that habit, etc. The sad fact is that we often don’t want to get free from some bad habit because we enjoy it too much! Enjoying sinful habits arises from our sinful flesh nature we’re born with because it’s passed down to all of us from our first parents, Adam and Eve. This is why Jesus had to come clothed in a fleshly body to experience every temptation we’ll ever face and yet never once sinned, thus fulfilling the law of God perfectly. Jesus also came in order to redeem (buy back) our souls from inevitable destruction because of our inherent sinful natures which only His Spirit IN us can overcome! This dear reader is the best kept secret, not that God keeps it from us for it’s plainly written in the Bible, but because many don’t understand it when they read it there. “Christ IN you, the hope of glory” [Col 1:27]. What we need therefore to focus on, is seeking after the things of the Spirit every single day, and putting on Christ as we put off our flesh –
Rom 13:14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. Rom 8:13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
Col 3:5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:
Col 3:6 For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:
Col 3:7 In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them.
Col 3:8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.
Col 3:9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;
Col 3:10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:
Col 3:11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all. (See that? Christ ought to be our focus, not ourselves and what we think we can do without Him).
Col 3:12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;
Col 3:13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
Col 3:14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.
Col 3:15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
Col 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
Col 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. (So you see, we’re to do all for His Glory and nothing else).
Can you honestly say that you DO or have done all the admonitions contained in these fourteen verses? It’s a good place to start isn’t it? I believe that there’s enough to work on in just these fourteen verses to keep every believer in the world busy for the entire year. We all far so short in so many ways; if not for the GRACE and MERCY of God, none of us would ever see the Kingdom of Heaven.
Notice the action verbs, “put on” “put off” “let” and “mortify?” I’ll let (pun unintended) you look those terms up in your bible concordance or bible study software (which I strongly suggest you do for further insight), but let me sum this up by saying that it’s not a matter of FAITH versus DEEDS, but a matter of faith AND deeds. James the natural brother of Jesus wrote, Jas 2:17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Jas 2:18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
Rules for Christian Households –
Col 3:18 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. (Uh oh! I can just imagine the women’s libbers gasping for air right now, and sadly there are many in the household of God.)
Col 3:19 Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. (Men, your bitter and harsh treatment of your wives is often the cause of your wives being NON-SUBMISSIVE to you!)
Col 3:20 Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.
Col 3:21 Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged. (Yes! Children are often provoked by their parents to REBEL against their authority through overly harsh and unjust treatment, or through just not being there for them, not listening to them, not giving them the emotional support and direction in life that they need. If this applies to you, then for their sake and yours, seek God and seek outside help as well. Don’t fool yourselves into thinking that you can handle it by yourself, don’t blind yourselves to the truth.)
Col 3:22 Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God:
Col 3:23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;
Col 3:24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.
Col 3:25 But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.
Have you ever asked yourself WHO you’re serving? Is it God? Yourself? Someone else? The answer may shock you, or it may not, but the answer is crucial to finding out where you stand. If you don’t know who you’re serving or living for, you’re no better than a blind person who can’t see where he’s going.
One of the keys to overcoming anything is to LIVE FOR THE GLORY OF GOD INSTEAD OF YOUR SELFISH DESIRES! I’ve tested this out in my past and found that when I was living for God’s glory only, everything I thought, said, and did revolved around that singular goal and it made the Christian walk so much easier. I quit smoking cigarettes because I realized that doing so was not only polluting my body (God’s temple) but was DISHONORING to Him when I bummed money from people to help pay for my bad habit! I also prayed to Jesus to help me quit and although it took about a year I did it without wearing a patch or taking man’s drugs. You see, when we struggle in our own strength to overcome some fleshly habit or sin, our focus is all ON those things and NOT on Christ. So when we switch our focus to Christ and to living for His Glory, we begin to naturally do the things that please Him. His Spirit living in us enables us to live by our ‘new nature,’ as it subdues our old, sinful nature – 2Co 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
Often the problem is that our focus is too much on THIS WORLD. The word of God says –
Col 3:1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
Col 3:2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. (Look at all those action verbs!)
In closing, I wish all of you a bright future, one that’s founded upon the Cornerstone which is Jesus Christ and not on anything or anyone else. I also want to express my deep concern over what I believe is the biggest oversight in the Body of Christ today, and that is the want of the hearing of God’s Word through extreme lack of regular and in depth study of the Bible. I’ve spoken to many believers in my time who’s knowledge of the Bible is so minuscule it’s a downright shame and they ought to be ashamed to call themselves a Christian because of it. Oddly enough, a few I’ve known personally obstinately boast of how they belong to Christ and are so blessed, yada yada, while they know practically nothing about how God thinks or FEELS about anything because they rarely or never read His Word. They don’t know how it grieves Him when they love this world and their pleasures MORE than Him, which they show by neglecting the reading of His precious words to run after their worldly pursuits and pleasures. Many so called believers are ignorant of God’s ways, His will, and of His instructions (Torah) on how to live right in this world. This is surely a crying shame. It disgusts and even angers me at times, and rightly so for it ought not to be that way among those who call themselves the Body of Christ. If you’re truly a member of His Body, how can you neglect the reading and studying of His words? Truthfully, it’s impossible no matter what you tell yourself. There’s simply no excuse for ignorance of God’s Word for those who can read and have access to a Bible. Excuses for not knowing and not doing God’s will won’t stand on Judgement Day [Mat 7:21-Mat 7:23]. Sorry if this offends your religious mentality but I’m here to tell you the truth, not tickle your ears. Those who care about their spiritual lives will take this to heart; God bless them.
If you feel you must make a resolution for the new year, then make it this ONE THING – TO READ AND STUDY THE WORD OF GOD until you know it backwards and forwards and can quote large portions of it from recall because you read it so often it’s become part of your permanent memory. (Yup, it’s true, you don’t even have to memorize it in the formal sense, but reading it often and meditating on it will write it upon your heart – deposit it into your permanent memory bank.)
Col 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…. Deu 6:6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: (Not sparsely, but RICHLY!)
Deu 11:18 Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. Deu 11:19 And ye shall teach them [to] your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. (In other words all throughout the day)
Jos 1:8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. (This isn’t speaking of mere worldly success and prosperity but of spiritual success and prosperity which is far more important.)
And don’t forget to live for God’s glory instead of your selfish desires. In so doing you’ll make great progress in your spiritual walk.
Debra R. Stout, January 2, 2018