But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith. For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.
– Romans 3:21-31
We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
– Romans 7:14-25
The Apostle Paul spends a lot of time in Romans talking of the Law, but each year, we create a new Law for January 1st. It is called a resolution.
Be honest. What is your record for holding to your resolution the longest? Let’s go the other way, what is the shortest time from ball drop until you wrecked your resolution? You say that you kept your resolution all year? You either set a low bar for yourself or you were ‘one of those.’ My mother was one of those. She’d abstain from one thing or another for an entire year. She would let everybody know it. And she would lecture you on your lack of will power and her tremendous capacity for will power. It was her super power. If you suggested her super power was making everyone miserable instead of her will power, I’ll give you credit for that too. Of course, that was just with family. But my mother never did the resolution thing. She had will power 24/7/365(366).
The last time that I kept a resolution was when I resolved to not have any other resolutions other than the one to not have any other resolutions. I kept that one all year. It was a breeze.
Yet, we see something in our lives that needs fixing, and we wait until December 31st to resolve to fix it. Then Romans 14:23b comes into play – “and everything that does not come from faith is sin.” Paul had already said in Romans 7 that we do what we don’t want to do and we don’t do what we ought to do. Why are we surprised, after a month of faithfully getting on the treadmill, that it becomes so easy to avoid it in February?
Thinking of treadmills. My wife was diagnosed with aortic stenosis many years ago. The doctor told her to exercise more. I bought a treadmill, because she didn’t like walking the neighborhood (too hilly) and the rails to trails were too far away or no parking. She didn’t like the treadmill either, too noisy and too boring.
In 2005, I made a non-resolution to get on the treadmill myself. In two months, I had logged many miles and the miles per hour meter on the treadmill was growing. It wasn’t a resolution to use the treadmill daily, lose weight, or gain strength. I just didn’t want the treadmill to just sit there. But by March, I was getting a lot of aches and pains. I thought I had done too much, too fast. I cut back. Here I was in better shape than I had been in January, but I was experiencing shortness of breath, aches all over, and my calves were swelling. The doctor thought congestive heart failure. All the tests were negative.
Then near the end of March or early April, I worked on a project in Alabama. My boss and I were teaching a class. He used our resting pulse rate as an illustration in class. On a whim, he had everyone check their rate. His point was to compare the rate versus what should be expected. If the rate was higher than expected, something was wrong – his point. I was resting in the back of the room. My pulse was over 200 beats per minute. Within a few days, I was shaking like I had the palsy. What had three months on a treadmill done to me?!
The doctor finally realized that it wasn’t my heart. I was diagnosed with Grave’s disease. Now, 12 years later, my thyroid has been destroyed by a radioactive iodine pill, I gained all of the weight back that I had lost while at my sickest (and then some more), but I am finally stable with normal heart activity.
It all started with a non-resolution to put the treadmill to good use.
So, if you want to set yourself up for failure, you can add a resolution which then becomes another rule that you could fail to follow.
As for me, my only resolution is a daily one, not yearly. Lord, help me to get closer to You, today.