New Years is generally the time when we look back at the previous year and look forward to the upcoming one. I chose Romans 6:1-14 as the passage this morning because of verse 4: "We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life." Isn't that a great phrase? Who isn't interested in "newness of life" for this new year?
Romans 6:1-14 gives us three requirements of new life :1) new life requires death; 2) new life requires resurrection; 3) new life requires the realization that you have the freedom to live a new life.
1) New life requires death: Death is the end of life in this present world. Everyone dies. Our physical bodies were not made to live forever. Death is not a maybe but a certainty.
Death came into existence from the beginning of creation in Genesis when Adam and Eve did not obey God's word. But after being cast out of the garden of Eden, God's plan has been to rescue His creation from sin and death and to restore them to a living relationship with Himself.
Romans 3:23 tells us that all have sinned and fallen short of God's glory. Romans 6:23 tells us that the wages of sin is death. So God sent Jesus Christ, His perfect, sinless Son to die for our sins so that we can receive forgiveness and be restored to relationship with God for eternity.
New life requires death.
2) But new life also requires resurrection. Resurrection is the return to life after death. But what makes Christ's resurrection unique is that it wasn't a resurrection to normal physical life to die again (like Lazarus). It was a physical resurrection to a spiritual, eternal life. Jesus was not a ghost, but had a resurrected eternal body that is also promised to those who trust in Christ.
The power that rose Christ from the dead is within us to empower us in this life too (Philippians 3:10; Ephesians 1:19-20). We died with Christ and now we are alive with Christ! New life in Christ means a changed perspective, changed behavior and changed purpose.
3) Lastly, new life requires that you realize you have the freedom to live a new life. We are set free from sin! This means that we have the biblical mandate to take personal responsibility for our behavior. But we don't have to do this on our own or with our own moral willpower. We have the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to live a life more in line with Christ. And, we have the forgiveness purchased by Jesus Christ when we sometimes fail, along with promise in Romans 8:1 that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Will you embrace your new life this year? What needs to be put to death? In what way will you allow God to pour His resurrection power into you and bring you new life? What choices do you need to make to live a life that is pleasing to God?
Happy New Year! May this year be filled with growth, love, joy and peace as you trust in Him.