So how about those New Year’s resolutions? By now you know whether or not you’re going to stick with that new diet or Bible reading program or budget. It’s not hard to say the words “I’m going to CHANGE!” It’s a completely different thing to actually do it, though.
I recently saw a clip from Mad TV with Bob Newhart. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out before you read any further.
Don’t you love Newhart’s simple solution (“Just stop it!”) to every problem?
– Don’t like your weight? Stop eating so much!
– Irrational fears? Stop being afraid!
– Careless with money? Stop spending!
It’s appealing, in a way, to look at things so simply. In fact, the church has sometimes taken this approach to confronting sin among Christians. Got a problem with anger? Stop it! Lust? Stop it! Greed, or selfishness or envy or gossip – just CUT IT OUT!
What this simplistic approach fails to take into consideration is that human beings are broken. The world is a masterpiece that has been vandalized by sin. Our nature is corrupted – and no Law or New Year’s resolution is able to make us truly change.
The Apostle Paul comes clean in Romans chapter 7:
What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary … For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! … I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. (Romans 7:15-20, The Message)
What we need is transformation. What we need is a Savior. And we need Him more than just the one time when we first choose to follow.
It’s not that change is impossible – it’s just not within our power. We need Him to empower us so we can truly “stop it” – so we can really change.
“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
Here’s a clip from my song “Matches“, which was written with Romans 7 in mind. Click here to listen: Matches (edited)
I’m gonna need some matches
Scott C. Riggan and R. Jason Collum