Rev. Mark Buetow
Sure, we’re a week into 2013. By now, most people are probably already failing at keeping their New Year’s resolutions. The problem with such resolutions, is that they try to accomplish something with the Law. Sure, it may not be in the Ten Commandments that you should exercise more or give up sugary drinks, but the same idea applies. If you try to change your life by telling yourself you have to change your life, chances are you won’t last long on the improvement circuit. This is because the Old Adam, our sinful flesh, loves to ignore what it’s told to do. He loves to be contrary and do the opposite of what he is told to do. The same thing is even more true when it comes to God’s law. The Old Adam doesn't deal well with that. Love God? Love neighbor? No way!
So for this new year, I’m going to give you a different plan. One that doesn't involve you doing anything but does involve putting that Old Adam to death. That plan is your baptism. Remember what the Catechism says about it. “What does such baptizing with water indicate? it indicates that the Old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and that a new man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.”
But watch out! You’ll be tempted to think that this is some kind of instruction for you. You know, figure out a way to overcome your sin and live for Jesus or something like that. But that’s not it at all! These words are not a description of you doing something but of what Christ does for you in and through your baptism into Him. This is Jesus’ work in you!
How does it happen? Repentance is only something that the Holy Spirit can work in you. He does this by the Word. So, where the Word is, there the Holy Spirit is working repentance in you. From the absolution you are given every Divine Service, from the preaching of Christ crucified and risen for you, from the very body and blood of Jesus by which He forgives you and lives in you, the Spirit is at work putting that nasty Old Adam to death and raising up that New Man in you.
Try this. When you get up in the morning, make the sign of the holy cross and say, “In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” With those words of Jesus, the Old Adam gets his morning dunking, drowning him so that he will leave you alone. Of course he will come dragging himself back like the zombie he is to try to grab your throat and lead you into all kinds of mischief and sin. He might even get you to fall into sin. So, when you go to bed every night, make the sign of the holy cross and say, “In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” That dunks that Old Adam once again. And, since you've got Jesus living in you through His Word and body and blood, whatever wrong you do each day is wiped out and forgiven. Whatever else you do is holy and precious in the Father’s sight since it is His Son Jesus living in you and doing it through you.
So, no worries this new year. The Old Adam will indeed be up to his same old tricks as always. And the answer to him is the same: Jesus crucified and risen for you, drowning the Old Adam and giving you new life, forgiving your sins every day and filling you with joy at the hope of the life to come. All that He does shall rescue you from the slavery of being bound by the Law, rescue you from trying to change or improve yourself or fix your own sin. No, Jesus has done that. His Spirit is working in you so that you will be free of that burden and live trusting only in Jesus to accomplish and do all these things. So there’s your plan for 2013: same as 2012. No longer you living but Christ living in you. And that means even when the new year is just the same old year again, you're still new every day in Jesus.
Created: January 8th, 2013