A new year in Christ: 8 new ways to live

Rob Griffith AP Fireworks explode in the sky above Sydney Harbour during the New Year celebrations in Sydney, Australia, Tuesday, … Continued

Rob Griffith

AP

Fireworks explode in the sky above Sydney Harbour during the New Year celebrations in Sydney, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013.

Welcome to the holiday hangover. One more helping of optimism served with a dose of regret is the typical prescription…otherwise known as New Year’s resolutions.

In the world of marketing, this time of year is known as the “new year, new you” phenomenon, and you’ll see evidence all over the place. Self-help books show up on the bestseller list, magazine stands tout the latest diet fad, and cardio machines will be hard to come by at the gym. Even in the church we see a surge in attendance every January.

The general consensus is clear: we could all use some work, and this year might finally be the year when everything changes for the better. We try exercise. We try to eat right. We try to kick our bad habits. We try positive thinking. We try religion. We try a new schedule. We all know too well, however, that the “new you” usually doesn’t survive beyond the Super Bowl.

I’m not at all opposed to healthy living, getting organized, eating right, and all of that. But the rejuvenated identity we’re hoping to gain through self-improvement will eventually disappoint because it never lasts. It may take days or it may take years, but the battle ultimately goes the way of all mortal efforts.

Despite the fact that failure trumps resolve on an annual basis, we continue “striving after wind” in search of that elusive fresh start, new beginning, and better identity (Ecclesiastes 2:11). Today, I have good news: the search is over. The answer isn’t anything new, but it does make everything new.

“Therefore,” the Bible says, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). The reason why life keeps not working is because we need a new life. As Jesus himself described, we need to be “born again” (John 3:3).

Due to the curse of sin, we are all born alive in the physical sense but dead in the spiritual sense. Even for all two of you who actually keep your New Year’s resolutions, just try to do everything else right for the rest of your life and it will become painfully obvious that we’re all hopelessly enslaved to sin. Resolutions can’t rescue us; we need to be reborn entirely.

By the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, we can be born again through faith (trusting in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus) and repentance (turning from our sins). Anyone can admire the life of Jesus, but those who are born again experience the life of Jesus and all of its benefits, including:

1.New Lord: If you’re born again, your highest authority becomes Jesus rather than yourself. He is a good king who loves his people.

2.New life: If you’re born again, you finally get a fresh start. You can’t meet Jesus and not change.

3.New identity: If you’re born again, you receive an identity rather than trying to achieve it. A fresh start doesn’t mean we’re perfect from here on out, but it does mean that the thing that defines you is Jesus—his love, his forgiveness, his steadfast presence—rather than your success and failure in life.

4.New power: If you’re born again, you get the Holy Spirit. No true change is possible without the work of God’s supernatural presence.

5.New mind: If you’re born again, you start to think differently. You begin seeing the world in relation to God and his plan and perspective.

6.New community: If you’re born again, you get a new family. God adopts you as a Father, Jesus is a saving big brother, and the church is his family.

7.New desires: If you’re born again, your deepest desires change. You start doing things you never wanted to do and stop doing things you used to love. For me, I knew something drastic had changed when I started wanting to read my Bible. It was a miracle.

8.New destiny: Finally, if you’re born again, you’re saved from your sin and reconciled to the sinless God, adopted into his kingdom of peace for all eternity. “Truly, truly,” Jesus said, “unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).

Go to the gym. Eat your veggies. Stop looking at porn. Use a day planner. But don’t settle for a new version of the old you when you can have new life forever in Jesus.

Mark Driscoll is the founding pastor of Mars Hill Church, based in Seattle, WA. This article is adapted from his latest book, “Who Do You Think You Are?: Finding Your True Identity in Christ.”

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Mark Driscoll Pastor Mark Driscoll is the founding pastor of Mars Hill Church, based in Seattle, Washington, and co-author of "Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, and Life Together."
  • nkri401

    To be born “…dead in the spiritual sense” – what an odd concept…

  • di89

    If you’re born again, you get the Holy Spirit.

    A theological point if I may…the Holy Spirit is already and always present to us and is what helps us accept, with our God-given free will, faith in God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; one then may receive the fullness of the gifts of the Holy Spirit (as enumerated in various places in Scripture) and so on.

    That may be what you meant, but the brief statement comes off like it’s some kind of a buy one get one free deal–accept Jesus and God the Father will throw in the Holy Spirit at no charge.

  • Watcher1

    Still believe in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny too?

  • Watcher1

    What if you were born OK the first time?

  • tas20036

    I believe in Lord Priapus. (Look him up)

  • tas20036

    I was born too slow…

  • jet0001

    I’m kind of partial to Kokpelli myself.

    He “rocks.”

  • tony55398

    It seems that the Atheists don’t have much to say for themselves, other than that their total lack of faith has no place on these posts. Their hatred only serves Satan’s interests, who seems to be their true father. After their death they believe they enter the void of blackness never to know or be known again, have fun, live happily. Please stay on your Atheist sites.

  • XVIIHailSkins

    This must have sounded a bit more intelligent when you said it to yourself the first time.

  • DRJJJ

    “No man,” Einstein replied, “can deny the fact that Jesus existed, nor that his sayings are beautiful. Even if some them have been said before, no one has expressed them so divinely as he.”

  • DRJJJ

    The evolution faith movement taught to our kids as gospel has done us no favors-turn on the news! When you’re taught you are an animal, don’t be suprised when they act like an animal! Secularization of church and state is a Nation disgrace and ain’t workin!

  • RickWatcher

    I might add that it is a daily walk with God. We are all subject to the same lusts and can be easily enticed to sin. So burying His Word in you heart daily and continual communication with Him and allowing His Spirit to lead you daily is necessary.

  • PhillyJimi1

    So what happens if you’re happy with the way you were born the first time?

    I know what the rule book says, we get to burn in hell forever at by order of the father of this all knowing and loving zombie’s father. Nothing like being offered a deal you can’t refuse, from the mafia boss in the sky!

    All of this because some old story book says I am not born again? It is laughable why anyone who would dare to examine the claims of the entire book of stories on it’s own merit could find any of it to be convincing. Of course most of us were taught about the mafia boss in the sky, as we learned to talk and walk.

    Of course there are things we don’t understand and don’t know (yet) it doesn’t mean that the Don in the sky get credit for these things by default.

  • XVIIHailSkins

    I might add that in order to achieve this one must also surrender their curiosity, skepticism, sense of humor, love of art, and more or less all the other redeeming elements of the human personality.

  • twmatthews

    Hi DRJJJ,

    I can find no such quote from Einstein. Please provide the source for your quote.

    I have found these quotes which kind of contradict what you claim he said:

    I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it. (Albert Einstein, 1954)

  • twmatthews

    I have no hatred for people who post to this web site whether I agree with what they say or not.

    I have a mistrust of people who claim knowledge for which there is no evidence. I also have sympathy for people who believe they need a god to tell them the meaning of their life.

    I have impatience when people of faith insist that I either agree with them or I’m “evil”.

  • autobits

    I’m sure you like to debate with your secular friends, and I’m sure you don’t start out those debates with insults. I know there are plenty of professing Christians on these comment threads who also resort to insults and gross generalizations rather than reasoned arguments, but it sure would be nice if people actually talked with each other once in a while.
    Then again, if the counter to my proposal for a civil conversation is basically that you can’t reason with a Sky Daddy lovin’ zombie with no personality then why bother commenting on the article at all?
    Maybe we can talk Skins or Nats instead sometime. I think God left that part of my personality intact.

  • twmatthews

    Evolution has nothing to do with faith. The theory of evolution is based on evidence and observation.

    Faith and the scientific method are incompatible because as soon as a theory is shown to be wrong, it is quickly abandoned. As soon as a faith belief is shown to be wrong, it seems to make one claim stronger faith.

  • nkri401

    Dr,

    You may be a plant but I am an animal. With or without the Lord’s blessing…

  • oldbrownhat

    @XVIIHailSkins
    10:53 AM PST
    “I might add that in order to achieve this one must also surrender their curiosity, skepticism, sense of humor, love of art, and more or less all the other redeeming elements of the human personality.”

    Echoes of HL Mencken! (“Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”)

    Dear, oh, dear! It appears you’ve been exposed to some pretty dour, unimaginitive, “God-bashers”, afraid to enjoy themselves because “God’ll get ‘em” but fortunately your fears about losing all one’s “redeeming human elements” are patently unfounded.

    Religious traditions and observations vary, it is true, but nowhere in the scripture or catechism I’ve read is one expected to become a desensitized religious cyborg! A phrase from the Anglican/Episcopalian liturgy comes to mind: “Give them an enquiring and discerning heart…” Despite what is often touted in the popular media, Christians (and not just Christians) are not required to give up curiosity or scepticism and certainly not a sense of humor! Nor are we expected to turn our faces away from great art or music (Bach, anyone?) in disgust.

    If your assessment were to be correct, in the immortal words of Samuel Goldwyn (born Schmuel Gelbfisz- not even Christian. Oy!), “Include me out!”

  • Sadetec

    @DRJJJ “When you’re taught you are an animal, don’t be suprised when they act like an animal!”

    Specifically which animal should we act like, I wonder..? Should we stand on one leg like a flamingo? Perhaps we should bury nuts in the garden like a squirrel? Or maybe we should lick ourselves clean like a cat? (Good luck bending over double to reach between your legs!)

    Or perhaps we should behave like a parrot, regurgitating pat phrases we’ve been taught without ANY understanding of what they mean — giving a faux impression of intelligence when all we’re really practising is mindless mimicry…?

  • haveaheart

    This article isn’t a thoughtful meditation on spirituality. It’s propaganda. Why are people like this guy given WaPo space to advertise?

  • educat111

    Reading the posts below vividly remind me of where I was 33 years ago…jealous of the peace, purpose and hope of Christ followers. I couldn’t understand it then, so I attacked it. I probably sounded just as whiney as the whiniest on this page….such a sad state. There is no hate or recrimination in the article above, and yet the responders below…claiming to be “tolerant” and educated, can’t tolerate what others believe…what I now believe…because the God of the Universe graciously cared for and loved me enough to break through my pride and hardened heart. The funny thing is…those of you who don’t believe “can’t” believe without the work of the Holy Spirit. The really exciting thing is: God can even use a Washington Post to draw His children to Him. He is amazing. Thank you Jesus for your love, patience, sacrifice and infinite grace. Thank you MD for sharing His love so faithfully.

  • SODDI

    Most christians will be content with just two:

    1. Hate more.
    2. Lie more.

  • haveaheart

    ” . . .just try to do everything else right for the rest of your life and it will become painfully obvious that we’re all hopelessly enslaved to sin.”

    Not being perfect doesn’t equate to being sinful. Carrying on with bad habits is simply . . . well . . . carrying on with bad habits. It’s all a part of life.

    You and Mr. Driscoll are free to believe what you like, to worship as you will, and to shake your heads over the cluelessness of your non-Christian, un-born-again brothers and sisters. But bandying about a word as emotionally charged as “sin” puts you in the category of religious judgmentalists. After that, it’s only one short step to “religious fundamentalists” — those who coerce the uncooperative into compliance.

    Back off, guys, and understand that the love and joy in your hearts also exists in many who don’t share your beliefs. You don’t have a monopoly on deep feeling and serene commitment. Your approach may be one way to get there, but it’s not the only way (despite what your religious instructors have taught you).

  • xexon

    The Pacific NW is a weird place. I know, because I’ve lived here for more than 30 years now. We are considered one of the least religious regions of the country. Too many free thinkers. Another reason I live here. I belong to the latter. Because I grew up in the southern bible belt where free thinkers were considered sinners. Heretics.

    Pastor Mark is outgunned, but like any man of faith, he tries anyway.

    Brother, you know nothing of God other than what a book has taught you. And like many Christians I know, you like to quote the bible. Where would you be if you could no longer read the bible? Would your spiritual journey end?

    A trained parrot can recite what it’s heard. I see nothing here that indicates you know anything other than what a book has taught you. What do YOU know of God that a book has not taught you?

    What would you have to offer people when the lights go out and you can’t read from the cheat sheet? The inner Christ is not dependent upon outside illumination or memorization. It wells up from within.

    I invite you to put down that book and join me where the spring never stops flowing.

    x

  • Catken1

    Actually, some parrots are smart enough to understand at least some of what they say…unlike a lot of fundamentalist creationists…

  • question1

    Forgive me, Mr. Driscoll, but this is, IMO, a centuries old version of “pap”. No specifics. Just holy spew. How about an article about trudging around carryina a cross instead of waving one & yelling “halleluia”?

    Inspiration is wonderful & necessary, but when it’s this generic, IMO, it’s useless.

  • DRJJJ

    The general revelation of a God through the micro and macro symphony/complexity of nature (there is a painter behind this painting) the fufilled propehcy in the Bible, the life of Christ & his followers (they cleared forests to cruxcify Christians in the 1-2 century & nobody dies like this for a hoax) the near death experiences of millions, the sense of right/wrong built into all of us, the eye witness testimony to Christ (takes one eyewitness to condemn a man to death today) the miracle of Gods’ word/the Bible (see the dead sea scrolls for example) to name a few reasons! It’s the intellectually honest world view folks and there’s room for one more! Secularization of church and state and the evolution faith movement sure haven’t done us any favors-turn on the news!

  • DRJJJ

    Yes, Christians are broken and disfunctional too (hypocrites)-I’ll give ya that in a hurry! There’s room for one more!

  • DRJJJ

    The missing links are still missing! Takes more faith to belive we’re all just pond scum/piles of chemicals than is does Christian doctrine! Believing we’re all just a machine ran by luck/chance and originating from nowhere is contrary to logic-intellectually dishonest! The latest from the non believing “intellectuals” is we now all came from aliens-anywhere but from God!
    Why would any of you non believers care or have a moral opinion anyhow if we’re all just pond scum? There are few atheist at funerals, in fox holes and at disasters for a reason! Thanks and God bless you this new year!

  • Who Is Jesus?

    This is the best article I have read on the WAPO website. I also was “Born Again” when I was just shy of 18, and it has been the greatest thing that has happened to me especially recieving the Holy Spirit.

    It is impossible to understand with scientific hypothesis, as it is a spiritual cleansing. And you only recieve the Holy Spirit if you truly believe it is possible, that there is a God, He did create the universe, He is Holy, and gave us free will, so that there would be some creatures in the universe that could choose to love Him, and that those who truly in their hearts do love Him, He sent His only Son, Jesus, to die as blood atonement and cleanse our sin. Accept that and I will testify that He will come into your heart and make you a new creature as the article says.

    If you dont believe this is possible, that we are all soulles scarbon and water, accidental animals, that just happened to get lucky enough to be born into the universe for no reason, then you wont believe us who say there is a God, and He loves YOU.

  • Who Is Jesus?

    Come to repent SODDI. God loves YOU. He died for YOU. He created this earth for YOU. You are a lost soul now. Full of hate for Jesus.

  • Who Is Jesus?

    The Holy Spirit is his teacher if he is born again as he states. @xexon

  • Who Is Jesus?

    He is not talking about people who “pretend to be Christs followers”

    He is talking about being truly saved by Jesus.

  • Who Is Jesus?

    They are called here to this thread, so hopefully one aetheist will accept Christ here. Realize that they do, infact have a soul, and God is holy, and created the laws of science.

    GOD THE GREATEST SCIENTIST!

  • Who Is Jesus?

    @DRJJJ thanks for the link!

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