Over the years, my success with resolutions has proven to be minimal. In college, a promise to study more lasted until the first social opportunity. A commitment to keep my eyes away from explicit images disappeared as soon as a friend offered to show me some. The decision to exercise more lasted a bit longer, but it couldn’t stand up to the soreness I felt afterward.
As I grew older, each year’s resolution appeared more mature on the surface, but they all remained just as shallow — and just as out of reach.
Why can’t I keep these resolutions? Is something wrong with me?
But nothing that isn’t wrong with you as well, and with every other person out there.
The fact that we cannot save ourselves is at the core of the gospel message. I cannot make and keep resolutions in my own strength. Just as I need Christ to bring salvation, I also need Christ in order to live in a way that honors Him. That’s why, when Jesus walked the earth, He promised a Helper.
Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commands. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever — the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you” (John 14:15-17, New International Version).
When I live in the power of the Holy Spirit, I don’t need to make well-intentioned but ultimately pointless resolutions.
Jesus, who loves me enough to die for my sins, has asked the Heavenly Father to act on my behalf by sending the third Person of the triune God to dwell in me. When the Spirit lives in me, I can live the way I should.
Bill Bright wrote: “We cannot live holy lives apart from the Holy Spirit, for He alone can produce the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22,23) in our lives. We cannot pray intelligently unless the Holy Spirit enables us, for He makes intercession for us with groanings too deep for words (Romans 8:26). We have no power to witness for Christ apart from His power (Acts 1:8). Only the Holy Spirit can enable us to live a supernatural life.”
God has given me life, and that more abundantly (John 10:10). He didn’t call me to live from year to year, from resolution to resolution, under the tyranny of a spiritual to-do (or don’t) list.
As you think about this upcoming year and ways you’d like to grow as a Christian or changes you’d like to make in your life, remember to invite the Holy Spirit along. It is only through our dependence on the Spirit that we can mature and overcome patterns of sin.
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