We have reached the point in the new year where a third of the population who set a New Year’s resolution will have broken it. This is according to various studies, so take that for what it’s worth.
Personally, I have never been one to make a New Year’s Resolution. I do find it admirable to those who who do, however. It is a respectable thing to set goals and strive to reach those goals. Having goals can motivate us, and the new year is certainly a time to make new goals.
I pray that your new year has been one filled with blessings. I pray that you are able to reach those goals you set for yourself.
However, as noted above, we are weak. We are weak when it comes to pleasing our own sinful nature. We are weak to give in to the temptations of this world.
We are weak to lust. We are weak to satisfy our sexual cravings. We are weak to give in to pornography. As the apostle Paul said, “For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not keep doing what I want. Instead, I do what I hate.” (Romans 7:15)
Rather than feeling new, we are often feeling like the same old person.
Obviously, we celebrate the new year once in a calendar year. For the Israelites of the Old Testament, one of the festivals they celebrated once a year was the Day of Atonement.
On this day, God commanded the high priest to carry out certain things. One of those duties was to take a goat, called the scapegoat. The high priest would confess “all the guilt of the people and all their sins” (Leviticus 16:21) and place that on the scapegoat. An appointed man would then take that goat and walk away from camp. They would walk until they were out of sight from the camp, and the man would release the goat into the wilderness, completely out of sight.
Here, God was teaching two things:
1) “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12)
2) One was coming to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.
Could you imagine watching that goat leave camp? What a feeling that must have been! Could you imagine placing all that guilt of your lust and porn on that goat and then watching it walk completely away?
While we don’t celebrate today with a goat, God gives us that same promise: “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12)
Your sin and guilt are no longer a part of you. It is completely removed from you.
And that brings us to number two.
The one promised to come. The one promised to make atonement has come and done just that.
Jesus is “the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
Jesus was the sacrifice, taking all your sin and guilt on his shoulders when he went to the cross. Your sins are paid for. Your sins are atoned for. You are at one with God.
Jesus has “made us clean from all our sins” (Leviticus 16:30).
I pray that you have a blessed new year! I pray that God gives you the strength to reach the goals and resolutions that you have for yourself.
But above all, look to the One who has removed your guilt. Trust in the one who has taken away your sin. Praise the one who has made you clean.
In Christ, we are new – today and always.
Author: Daniel Koch serves as the Staff Minister of youth and family ministry at Grace Lutheran Church in Crivitz, WI.