As we welcome in the new year, people are thinking about what they can change in their lives. Whether it is changing dietary habits, exercising more, reading more, or anything else, people are thinking about change. Mostly, though, it is all physical changes we think of when we think about “New Year’s’ resolutions”. But what about spiritual changes? Do we ever think of what we can spiritually? That is what we’re going to be discussing this time. How can we change spiritually?
Spiritual renewal is a vital part of a Christian’s life. To ‘renew’ something means to ‘get back to’ or to ‘return to something’. When we talk about renewing ourselves spiritually, we mean that we need to return to the ways of our Lord if we have gone astray. Matthew 18:12-14 is a good way to describe the importance of spiritual renewal. It says, “What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying? If it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray. So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish.” This is a short parable given by Jesus to teach a lesson. The man, in this case, represents God. The one stray sheep is a person who goes astray from God. When the person realizes the mistakes they have been making, God is then able to bring them back to Him, and God rejoices because they are now saved.
To renew ourselves spiritually, we must first examine ourselves. Paul speaks of self-examination in 2 Corinthians 13:5, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you – unless, of course, you fail the test?” We must look at our past, we must remember and dwell upon the times in which we did not do what is in accordance with God’s word. Obviously, it is unrealistic to remember every detail of every sin, yet we do need to be aware of what we are doing. Paul says in Romans 3:20, “For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.” Paul is discussing here how the law itself cannot save us, we must have Jesus in our life. However, he does say that the law shows us how sinful we are, but how does it do that? It shows us by telling us what is right and wrong according to God. That is why we must be familiar enough with the law, to know if we are sinning. We can also pray to God. Let him know you want to return to his ways, and ask him to show you the sins you are committing. To renew ourselves spiritually we must know the sins that we are getting rid of and stopping from entering our lives any longer.
Then we must ask for forgiveness. Now that we know our sins we can confess them before the Lord. Just as 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” If we are baptized and Christ is in us, he will forgive our sins that we have committed against him. That is a promise that will never cease. We must always remember though the attitude that David had in Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”
But what if we are not baptized? How do we renew ourselves spiritually if we are not baptized? The answer lies in Acts 2:38, “And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” We must believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of Almighty God, that he came, died, and rose from the grave. Jesus himself said in Mark 16:16 “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” We must repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins. Then and only then, can we be renewed.
Once we have been baptized and our sins washed away (Acts 22:16), we are renewed spiritually. We must also understand that baptism would not have any spiritual value if Christ had not died on the cross as the perfect sacrifice. 1 John 1:7 says, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” His shed blood is what represents the spiritual renewal. It would not be possible without his perfect sacrifice.
We must understand also that we cannot go on living the way we did before, we must keep the new life going. Colossians 3:9-10 states, “Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” We must throw away the old self, and accept and thrive in the new. We are a new creation when we are baptized (2 Corinthians 5:17).
So in conclusion, spiritual renewal is important. It is important because it clears the conscious (1 Peter 3:21). It gets us “back on track” if you will, towards God. Whether we are already baptized and need a renewal to refocus, or need to be baptized to be saved and to renew, there is no better time than today. just as 2 Corinthians 6:2 says, “For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” There is no better time to renew yourself, or save yourself than today because there may not be a tomorrow.