Friday, December 28, 2007

Out with the Old and in with the New

While many people past a "certain age" dread their birthdays, everyone greets the new year with positive anticipation. There's something in the turning of the calendar that seems to promise a clean slate. New chances. New opportunities. The hope that this time we'll get things right.

A good bit of this is psychological, of course; we could make resolutions for improvement on March 1, or on the Fourth of July, and they would work just as well--or not, depending on how consistently we stuck to the program. The trouble with resolutions is we tend to let them die of neglect once it becomes clear how much hard work is involved.

Living a Christian life is hard work as well. Many people who accept salvation with great enthusiasm, lose their fire once they realize God has plenty of work for His followers (cf. Eph. 2:8-10). They want to go to heaven without changing, or at least to become better people without personal effort. God does re-create us in Him (2 Cor. 5:17); but He expects us to cooperate through serious effort to "put off" sinful habits and "put on" godly ones (Eph. 4:22-24). We also need to remember, though, Who is really in charge of the process. We never can change through our own strength (the mistake most people make in trying to keep their New Year's resolutions); the resources we need are found only in God.

He is, after all (Rev. 21:5) the One Who makes everything new.

Out with the old and in with the new!
God has already forgiven you;
Your sin-stained self is crucified,
Nailed to the cross where the Savior died.

In with the new and out with the old!
Let God remove your heart stone-cold,
Put in its place a warm-flesh heart,
Filled with His love, ever set apart.

Off with the old and on with the new!
Put off the self that would evil do;
Put on the new self strong and pure,
Righteous in Christ, ever true and sure.

On with the new and off with the old!
Sin's shackles on you have lost their hold;
God's Holy Spirit now lives within;
Christ has freed all who were slaves to sin.

Out with the old and in with the new!
Righteousness no more depends on you;
Christ put aside the law that bound,
Set your feet firmly on grace's ground.

In with the new and out with the old!
Look to the vision with streets of gold;
The time is near--yes, God's Word is true--
When Christ will come to make all things new.

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