By Vasquez Savage
Another year is about to end and a new one will begin. We don’t know what awaits us. There will be, no doubt, many challenges and many joys. With the state our Nation and the world is in, the challenges will surely be great. Are we prepared for whatever may come? How are we preparing for it? Many make resolutions trying to commit themselves to changing some part of their lives that they feel will be an improvement in themselves this coming year. These resolutions are notorious, though, for not being followed through with. Others say resolutions are pointless and won’t make any. They say “I will just go with the flow.” They will make no preparations for what may come to them in the coming year. If we are to deal with the challenges of 2019, we must prepare.
How can we prepare for what we don’t know will happen?
The answer is found, I believe, in the “inner man”. Most resolutions are made to improve self like losing weight, doing better with finances, or quitting a habit; like smoking. While all of these things are good and noble desires, they do nothing to improve the “inner man”. Unless the inner man be improved, no attempts to improve the outer man will be of any consequence. Why do we so often seek outer improvements while ignoring the source of all our problems?
For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day – Romans 7:22-23
For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members – Romans 7:18.
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
With every new coming year, most people take stock in the year that is passing and desire to do something to improve their position in the next. There are those who have no desire at all to improve anything. This message is not for them. For those who have some desire to see some improvements in the coming year, the real question is how do we, as children of God, do that? The answer, as all answers are, is found in God’s Word. Our inward man must be renewed. We know how our minds need to be renewed. Our inward man, our eternal soul and the heart of who a man is, needs constant renewal as well. God’s Word tells us that our outward man is perishing. With each day we grow older and our bodies are dying.
For the child of God, seeing that “the inward man is renewed day by day”, should be an all consuming desire. There is no cure for the body dying. It will die. There is a cure, though, for what ails the inward man. The hope of Jesus Christ’s coming is the child of God’s motivation to not faint. It is this “cause” that Paul speaks of that, though the body suffers and dies, this hope of His coming is renewed every morning. Every morning the bible says, God grants us the amount of grace we need to renew us “day by day”.
Our bodies may be dying, but our inner man can prosper and flourish in God’s grace. A man living after the lusts of his own heart, the condition of his inner man only grows worse. In the man who is seeking God’s holiness, his inner man grows stronger and stronger each day. The hope of Christ returning keeps them from “fainting” and causes them to prepare their inward man to do the “good works” God has planned for them. A Godly man sees his suffering working in their favor and joys in them. An ungodly man sees his suffering and is done in by them. Challenges and trials do not improve us as some say; they reveal who we are. For a child of God, they are seen as tests of our faith to be endured and a victory to be won in Christ. For the lost, they are temptations that destroy who they thought they were. Sufferings only grow us when our inner man is strengthened through our victory over them which renews our faith in God’s grace; suffering by suffering and day by day.
How do we renew the inner man?
As Pastor Charles Stanley always says “It isn’t rocket science”. First, we must realize one spiritual truth. Though we as Christians may “take delight in the law of God”, there is another “law in my members”. Once our minds have been renewed, as we learned, and our mindset has been changed to thinking on Godly things; we still have the old sin nature that wars with our regenerated hearts. In Victor Hugo’s story, “Ninety-Three” a ship is caught in a storm. The frightened crew hears a terrible crashing sound below. Immediately the men know what it is: a cannon has broken loose and is crashing into the ship’s side with every smashing blow of the sea! Two men, at the risk of their lives, manage to fasten it down again, for they know that the unfastened cannon is more dangerous than the raging storm. Hillery C. Price made this application: “Many people are like that ship – their greatest danger areas lie within their own lives.”
Our problems are not the state our Nation is in, or our world. It is not our finances, our weight, or some habit we wish to quit. Our problem is not government, education, all the immorality in the world, or even the need for our churches to get back to preaching the true gospel again. The problem lies within our inner man; the condition of our hearts. That is where change needs to take place. The first truth we need to face is this: though “I delight in the law of God after the inward man” I have not the power or the strength to battle “the law of sin” that still lives within me. Since it is forever with me, I need my heart daily renewed.
This renewing is done divinely through the Spirit of God working in our lives. A regenerated heart is not a one-time experience. It is a constant regeneration that continues until Christ returns. As long as “the law of sin”, this “body of death” as Paul calls it remains in us, we need God’s regenerating power “day by day”. That is why God’s grace is given to us every morning. We need it every day and God promises to give us exactly what we need for each day.
We must seek this renewing of our inward man. It is not rocket science. It is only done one way; by daily seeking this renewal through God’s Word. There is no other way. If we are to step into 2015 with any hope of handling the challenges to come, we must be thoroughly saturating ourselves with His Word. The Word of God has the power to save and the power to renew those who have been saved. It is the same message I preach over and over. Get in God’s Word daily, meditate on it, study it, and spend more time with God in prayer. Start with 5 minutes and watch the minutes turn into hours when you grow in your love for the things of God. As I learn more about God and just how good He is, I find my love for Him being renewed. I want to be with Him more and learn more about Him growing in Him and being renewed.
We, too often, let the cares of this world and the condition of our outward bodies take precedence over what is happening on the inside. Don’t misunderstand me here. Sometimes improving our outward bodies can be part of improving the “inner man.” One of my favorite Pastor friends felt convicted to lose weight. His motivation was that his weight was hindering his serving God and being the kind of father his heavenly Father wanted him to be. He was a great inspiration to many as well as he conquered this demon through the power of Christ that lives in him. The question always is: what is our motivation and what is more important. Improving the inner man must take precedence.
What is happening on the inside is the only thing of lasting importance
It is not that we ignore the outward man, but we must recognize that unless the inward man takes precedence, the outward man suffers even more. The changes we want to see in ourselves, and in our world, cannot be made with the outward man. We must first change the inside if we are to see any real lasting change. Be prepared for the coming year by seeing the “inward man” is prepared for it. Then, and only then, will you truly be prepared for 2015. You can then face it with confidence; both in having hope in Christ’s coming and the knowledge of God’s Word that is being renewed in you day by day, you’ll be ready to fight the battle that rages inside of all of us. I pray that each one of you, and I, are prepared for the coming year. I pray our inward man is ready for the challenges inside of ourselves that will surely come. Then we will face them in victory through God’s Son and our strength will be renewed thereby renewing our faith as well. vs,
A new year
A new beginning
A new set of rules
A chance to change the rules of the game
We live in an age of short-term commitments
Vows made are made to be broken
Loopholes are accepted and expected
Escape clauses are standard
In the face of a changeless God
Man keeps trying to change the rules
Treaties aren’t made to be kept
Laws and government blow with the winds
But God is faithful
A new covenant I make unto you
My covenant of peace will not be shaken
My loving kindness will never be removed
Who gives the Sun for light by day
Who fixed the order of the Moon
Who placed the stars to light by night
Who stirs the Sea that its waves may roar
A new year is beginning again
Who will have control as it begins
Who will be in control when it comes to an end
Make a new covenant with God this year
Let Him have control of the coming year
No contingency plans
A new beginning with no end.
Vasquez Savage is a layperson with 35 years of teaching, studying, and sharing the love of Christ. A thirty year Social Worker who has preached, led bible studies, taught Sunday School, sang, and acted in dramas to the furtherance of the gospel.