What Is New and What Is Old

Today is New Year’s Eve. People the world over are anticipating the beginning of a new calendar year.  As 2011 makes its debut, many people have revived hopes of a new beginning. Many others will welcome 2011 with intense celebrations that morph into blurry hangovers. Many resolutions will be made, but few will be kept. New calendars will be hung. For some, hope will abound, and for others depression will remain. Many will put their faith in a ball that falls in Times Square—they will cling to the hope that this year will really be different.  This is what is old about New Year’s Eve.  Perhaps this is why the celebrations are so extravagant; people hoping against hope that things will change, but knowing deep in their hearts that, no matter how much they party or how much they dream, the old will remain.

In stark contrast, the Christian, only the Christian, can experience something truly new on New Year’s Eve. You see, New Year’s Eve promises what it cannot deliver. What is old can only repeat itself, over and over again. As a race, mankind has been old since he believed Satan’s lie in the Garden, many millennia ago. In this sense, all of us are born old, without real hope. But Jesus Christ does more than offer new beginnings to his followers every year. He delivers new hope and real change every day! Those who trust in Christ don’t need to wait for a new year to experience change. The mercies and wonders of God are new every morning. Jeremiah put it this way:

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.” Lamentations 3:22-24

The prophet’s words carry a genuine promise of freedom from being old—old in the ultimate sense. God’s love never ceases. His mercies are new every morning. He has become our portion. Because he is the one who promises newness of life, it is a promise that we can trust absolutely. Left to our own resources, we always revert back to oldness. What promises to become new will quickly become the same old, same old again. But God’s mercies never end. His mercies are not tied to our performance. God will be gracious to his people whether we keep all of our resolutions or not. Because we cannot earn acceptance with God, what he offers really is new. The hope that New Year’s Eve offers is always tied in some way to our performance—there is always something we have to do to earn the success we hope for. But Jeremiah is thrilled that God’s goodness is not tied to being the best or the smartest. God set his love on Israel simply because he chose to, not because they earned it. So God could free Israel from the tyranny of oldness, from the futile hope that life will be different if I just try harder.

The Apostle Paul builds on Jeremiah’s thoughts. In Ephesians, he says:

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. —Ephesians 4:22-24

The old can be put off. The former, old way of life is being corrupted. New Year’s Eve offers redemption through the doorway of corruption. In a way that is typical of the world’s deception, too many people will party with gusto tonight, while hoping to have a new life tomorrow. This is what is old.

But Paul says that you can be new in your mind, you can put on a new self. You can put on Christ. That is new! That is the beauty of the gospel. The “new” is not a fleeting dream that dissolves the morning after the party. As a Christians, you have new gifts every morning. Every morning, you can love Christ and embrace the new life. Every morning you know his faithfulness, just because that’s who he is.

This is what’s new. This is your hope. So when you celebrate the New Year’s arrival, remember that your life can be new every day. Share this message of renewal with your children and with those that you know who are lost in the oldness of this world.

Shepherd Press