Before You Start Making Resolutions
by PastorErick | 12/27/17, 7:00 AM
 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,  by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.  For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge,  and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness,  and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.  For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.  Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.  For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
(2 Peter 1:3-11 ESV)
A little while back one of my sons got into the habit of flippantly saying the word “hate”. A toy wouldn’t work and he’d say “I hate this toy.” Or he couldn’t pass a level on a Wii game and he’d say “I hate this game.” And I would tell him he wasn’t allowed to say it and that he would be in trouble if he used that word again. Well then I heard him say one day after a heated wrestling match that he “hated his brother.” Now none of these things were said in a sort of vicious anger, but “hate” just became the word of choice to describe anything uncomfortable. So because I warned him and he did it again, I disciplined him and then had a very serious talk with him about the word. I explained to him how awful its meaning was and how it was just about the worst thing anyone could ever tell someone. And so by the end of it, he very seriously promised me, he resolved with me that he wouldn’t say the word again. I could tell he meant it, but it wasn’t even before the day ended that I saw him fumbling with something and what did he say? “I ha….. this thing.” I was looking right at him and said, “What did you say?!” He said “I hay this thing. Dad, I hay this thing.”
I tell you that story because when I think about New Years resolutions I can’t help but acknowledge that most of the time our resolutions to change end up just like my son’s resolution to stop saying that word. For a little while we may try, but most of us either give up or compromise. We resolve to “lose the weight” or “quit smoking” or “exercise more” or __________________ (you fill in the blank), and almost inevitably stumble back to where we started. With this proven track record of failure, should we even resolve (determine) to improve anything anymore? Well, the Bible’s answer to that question is Yes and No. Yes we are called to be resolute in growth in the Christian life. Peter states it this way in our text:
“Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice the qualities (of virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection and love) you will never fall.”
Pretty clear to me…. Yes, we should resolve to improve in certain areas.
On the other hand, contrary to what many might teach, resolving towards growth without the proper food, the proper fuel, is a recipe for failure. On that front, the Bible would tell us, “No, New Year’s Resolutions will only harm you unless they are born out of the proper soil.”
So what I want to do over the next few weeks is talk about some areas we all need to grow in 2018:
First off, if we as Christians are going to have any dynamism, freedom, life, liberty, obedience, power, joy, peace, patience, you name it, we must grow from the gospel. That’s how Peter begins his letter (and for that matter, that’s how the rest of the New Testament speaks too!).
Before he tells them of a bunch of areas they should resolve to grow in, he gives them the food, the fuel of the gospel.
“You have been granted all things that pertain to life and godliness. He has called you, He has granted to you great promises, He has saved you from the corruption that is in the world already, etc.”
Here’s the point: As a Christian, whatever you resolve to do always must be grounded in this great truth: In Christ, God loves me, accepts me, saves me right where I’m at. There is nothing I can do to lose his favor, or gain his favor more. Christ has done it all for me. It is finished. Period. Period. Period. I am a new creation in Christ. The old has gone, the new has come. I am a slave to righteousness now and I am not in bondage to the flesh anymore.
Martin Luther said it this way in his little writing, The Freedom of the Christian:
It ought to be the primary goal of every Christian to put aside confidence in works and grow stronger in the belief that we are saved by faith alone. Through this faith the Christian should increase in knowledge not of works but of Christ Jesus and the benefits of his death and resurrection.
Too often, I come across Christians that have come to believe they’re not worthy enough to come to Church, or pray, or read the Word, and I just have to say all that shows me is that they don’t understand the Gospel. The Gospel says, literally, no matter what you do, what you’ve done, or what you will do, you ARE accepted, you ARE forgiven and that will never change. That voice telling you you’re not worthy to pray, read, go to Church or whatever else it is? That’s the voice of the devil screaming out from the pit of hell. DO. NOT. LISTEN.
Alrighty, with that foundation being laid, next week we'll start listing off a bunch of virtues we should resolve to grow up into in 2018.
Soli Deo Gloria,
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- 17 - Reasons For Faith In Jesus’ Resurrection Part IV: The External Evidence
- 10 - Reasons For Faith In Jesus’ Resurrection Part III: The Birth, Rapid Expansion and Martyrdom Of The Early Church
- 03 - Reasons for (Christian) Faith Part II: The Counterproductive Gospel