Is there any “resolution” we make as Christians?

New Year’s resolutions seem like a good idea for pumping new life and energy into our Christian walk, but what exactly can we resolve to do when we’ve already got “everything we need for life and godliness,” 2 Peter 1:3? And what can we do to make gains spiritually next year when we “do not lack any spiritual gift,” 1 Corinthians 1:7? In fact, where does making resolutions come into the picture at all when we’ve already been “blessed in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ,” Ephesians 1:3?

Surely it’s “by the Spirit” too, not our resolve, that we “put to death the misdeeds of the body,” Romans 8:13, and Paul even called the Galatians foolish for “beginning with the Spirit,” but resorting back to “human effort” in their resolve to be good Christians, Galatians 3:3.

So what’s left for us to “resolve” to do if we’ve already got everything we need, and it’s only by the Spirit, not our efforts, that we grow spiritually?

There’s a clue in 2 Corinthians 5:18 where Paul tells us God has “reconciled us to himself through Christ.” Paul assures us our relationship with God is firm, secure and complete forever because of Christ. There is nothing we did to make that perfect reconciliation happen, and nothing we do now either – like “inviting Jesus into our hearts” or praying a certain way – to make that relationship happen.

But if God totally reconciled us to him already, why did Paul then say in verse 20, “BE reconciled to God,” as if there’s something we do too?

Because there is something we do: It’s opening our minds to, and accepting, God’s reconciliation. It’s all well and good hearing about it, that God has totally reconciled himself to us for nothing we did or do, but have we really clued into it yet and accepted it? It’s like a child receiving a Christmas present and his parents crying out, “Well, go on, open it,” because what’s the point of the gift if the child doesn’t see what he’s got and enjoy it?

When Paul says “Be reconciled to God,” therefore, it’s a plea to Christians to please, please, please clue in to what we’ve been given and believe it. Believe that God has made us his friends forever, purely because of what he accomplished for us in Christ, so that next year, instead of fretting about our relationship with God, we can live in, bask in, and enjoy the fact that HE made and makes that relationship happen. It’s “the Spirit (who) works miracles in us” – the miracles of love for and faith in God. And all Paul asks of us is to resolve to believe it (Galatians 3:5).

What can we expect for certain this coming year?

As we enter a new year, there are two things Paul says we can count on: First of all, we can “count ourselves dead to sin,” and secondly, that we’re “alive to God,” Romans 6:11, both of which have been done for us by Jesus – the first one by his death, and the second by his life.

We do not travel through the new year, then, in our old body of sin. Jesus nailed it to the cross and rendered it powerless. We are free of it once and for all (verse 7). The typical human evils Paul talked about in chapters 1 and 2 “no longer have mastery” over us, just like they had no mastery over Jesus (verses 9-10).

But that’s not all we can count on. We can also count on the fact that Jesus rose from the dead to lift us into a completely new life that’s just like the life he lives. And what kind of life is that? Simply put, Jesus “lives to God,” verse 10. And so can we, verse 11, because we’re “alive to God” too.

It’s at this point a Christian may well ask, “But what’s our part in all this?” – because Jesus seems to have done everything for us. “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification” (4:25), so what’s left for us to do? We’ve already been credited with righteousness (4:24), we’re already at peace with God (5:1), we’ve already been saved from God’s wrath and reconciled to him (5:9-11), and now we discover sin has no power over us either, so now what? What part do we play in all this?

Paul has an answer: “Therefore,” Romans 6:12, now that we know we’re dead to sin and alive to God, “do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.” It’s a nasty shock to discover that even though we’re walking in eternity with the living Christ, evil still exerts a strong influence on us in the here and now.

It’s like the children in Narnia. They live in a wonderful new world, in which Aslan the great lion rules, but there’s also an evil witch in Narnia trying to thwart Aslan’s purpose, and the children still fall prey to their own desires and fears. It’s not a bed of roses for them; it’s a constant battle, but Aslan encourages them to keep pressing on, forget the mistakes and mishaps – count themselves dead to them – and be alive to him, because he is with them every step of the way, and he will get them through.

And that’s just as certain for us too, all through this new year.