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2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

Every time a new year rolls around, folks begin to think about things they can change in their lives. Some people say that they are going to lose weight and start eating healthy. Others say that they are going to go back to college or get out of debt. Some say that they are going to write a book or start their own business. And others commit to getting organized or spending more time with family and friends.

The start of a new year is indeed a great occasion to make a change in your life. I believe that God gives us such time markers as a way for us to stop, look back at our lives, and identify things that we can change for the future. However, many people focus on making only outward changes — changes that will improve the way they look, improve their standard of living, or improve how others see them. I believe that the best change you can make is a change from the inside out — a change of heart, spirit, and mind. In other words, a change that brings about a new you for the new year. For there cannot truly be a New Year for you if there is no new you for the New Year.

So, today, I want to share with you from the Word of God how you can become a new you as we head into the new year. In Second Corinthians chapter 5, Paul is writing to the Corinthian believers about the implications of Christ’s death. He emphasizes that Christ died for “all men”, so anyone can have a new life through Jesus Christ. Because of Christ’s death, salvation was not limited to the Jews, but was opened to everyone. This is good news for us today because it lets us know that anyone can have a great change in their life through the power of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Many people have found new life in Christ. Some famous people whom you have heard of, such as: singer Carrie Underwood, Super-Bowl winning football coach Tony Dungy, NBA player Kevin Durant, writer and news commentator Kirsten Powers, actor Blair Underwood, Olympic athlete Brady Ellison, Olympic gold medalist Sanya Richards-Ross, and PGA golf tour champion Webb Simpson, have all stated that the person who made the biggest difference in their lives is Jesus Christ.

Blair Underwood said, “I am a Christian. I believe God has a plan. I believe he is not going to leave us hanging. As a man, I don’t have all the answers. Being able to turn matters over to a higher power works for me.”

Tony Dungy said, “You are never going to get anywhere in sports or in life until you become convinced of the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. You may become a professional athlete or have fame and nice cars and nice houses and a lot of money, but what you’ll find is that all of that stuff goes away pretty quickly. You have to understand that Christ died for our sins, and that He died not just to be our Savior but so that He could be the center of our lives.”

Kirsten Powers said, “I don’t really feel like I had any courage when I became a Christian; I just gave in. I wasn’t courageous; I didn’t have any choice. I kept trying to not believe but I just couldn’t avoid accepting Christ.”

NBA player Kevin Durant said, “I believe God’s love for me, the sacrificial death of Jesus for my sins, and His grace, not my good works, are what saves me. That humbles me and makes me worship Him. I also believe Heaven is reserved for me and that the best is yet to come. I’ve added a simple tattoo on my wrist that says, live for eternity. God’s Word says that’s where we’re all headed. And I wanna start living with that eternal perspective on everything I do now. ”

Grammy award-winning singer Carrie Underwood said, “My songs are sometimes focused on God, Jesus and faith. Every Wednesday, my husband and I have a study group with our friends. I attend church. We try to devote time in the morning to say a prayer.”

Olympic gold medalist Sanya Richards-Ross said, “There are many meaningful verses in the Bible, but the one I say to myself most often is, ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!’ That’s my favorite because on the track, I am usually trying to do things that have rarely been done before. I know that it’s only God that gives me the strength to accomplish these things.”

We could go on with more examples. But I want you to know that you can join the likes of these and many other people by allowing Jesus Christ to make a new you for the new year and for your life beyond. How can such change come about?

1. First of all, to have a new you for the new year, you must be “in Christ.” Verse 17 begins with, “therefore if any man be in Christ…” The Greek word for “in” means to be in a ‘fixed position’ or to ‘dwell within set limits’. What does it mean to be in Christ? Being in Christ denotes the standing of a believer after he or she has accepted Jesus Christ as their Saviour. Unless you are in Christ, you cannot have a new lifestyle or a new mentality.

The term ‘in Christ’ or ‘in Him’ is used several times in the New Testament to describe the position and benefits that the believer has. Notice Ephesians 1:7. This verse tells us that ‘In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace…’ We see here that if you are in Christ, your sins are washed under the blood of the lamb. By Christ’s death, and because of God’s grace, you are redeemed or delivered from sin and the punishment of sin which is Hell.

Secondly, notice Ephesians 1:3. This verse states that God “hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ…” If you are in Christ, you have spiritual blessings that you would not otherwise have. Please notice here that this is not talking about material blessings. Being in Christ does not mean you will have a big house or an expensive car. But you will have spiritual blessings such as peace that passeth all understanding, joy unspeakable, confidence in the midst of the storms of life, and the hope of heaven in the midst of despair. Matthew Henry said, “Spiritual and heavenly blessings are the best blessings; with which we cannot be miserable.”

Now, notice Colossians 2:10: “And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power.” What does it mean to be complete “in Christ”? The Greek word for “complete” means to ‘be made full’ or to ‘fill up’. In other words, if you are in Christ, you have everything you need to live the Christian life. You have everything you need to be considered righteous in God’s sight. You have everything you need to pass from this life on earth to the next life in Heaven.

So, we see that being “in Christ” means that all of our sins are washed under the blood and we are delivered from the power of sin and the punishment of sin. Being in Christ means that we have obtained spiritual blessings because of Jesus Christ; and being in Christ means that we are not lacking in anything that concerns our salvation and life.

Being “in Christ” is the first step to having a new you for the new year.

2. To have a new you for the new year, you must realize that you are a “new creature.” Second Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature…” There are many Christians who live miserable, unproductive, and defeated lives simply because they do not realize and embrace the fact that since they are in Christ, they are new creatures and it is time for them to put away the old ways and begin living according to their standing as a child of God.

Imagine a young man who is homeless, disheveled, unclean, and poor. He walks the streets begging for coins just to get a bite to eat every day. One day, a man comes looking for him as he is sitting on the street corner begging. This man tells him that he is actually the son of a wealthy business owner and that his father wants him to come home, get his life on track, and get an education. He tells the young man that there is plenty of room for him at his father’s mansion and that everything he needs — food, clothing, and money — would be taken care of from that point on. Now, imagine if that poor young man refused to take his father up on that kind of offer and decided to remain a homeless beggar.

Of course that is ridiculous. Yet, that is what many Christians do each and every day. They do not live according to their status as followers of Christ. Neil T. Anderson wrote in his book, The Bondage Breaker, that Satan can “block the effectiveness of a Christian if he can deceive you into believing that you are nothing but a product of your past — subject to sin, prone to failure, and controlled by your habits.” He goes on to say, “Satan cannot do anything about your position in Christ, but if he can deceive you into believing what the Scripture says isn’t true, you will live as though it isn’t true.”

If you do not realize and embrace the fact that you are a new creature in Christ, then you will never live as Christ intended for you to live. You will not have the powerful, victorious life that you can have. Your “new year” will be the same as your “old year.” No matter how hopeful and optimistic you feel about the New Year, and no matter how much you determine to make the new year different, the devil will remind you of every failure you had in the past year and the years before. He will burden you with your sins and mistakes at the onset of the New Year and if you accept his lies and believe that that is just the way you are, then you will go through another year of not living up to your full potential as a child of God.

I am here to tell you that you do not have to be in bondage to sin. You do not have to go through another year of making the same mistakes and committing the same sins. You can have a new you for the new year if you realize your standing as a new creature in Christ.

3. To have a new you for the new year, you must put away all “old things.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 says that “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results. That is true. And if you want different results in the new year, you have to stop doing the same old things over and over again. The Bible says that if you are in Christ, and if you are a new creature, then old things should be “passed away.” What are the old things in your life that you need to put away in the new year?

Did you lie this past year? Did you neglect prayer and reading the word of God this past year? Did you cheat and connive to have your way this past year? Wives, were you disrespectful to your husband this past year? Husbands, did you fail to love your wives as you should this past year? Children, did you disobey your parents this past year? Whatever you did in the past year that got you bad results, you need to put away in the new year.

Notice this verse from Colossians chapter 3: “But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds.”

If you want to make the new year a great year, you must put away all of the old things that you did in the last year and in past years that made that year a bad year. Give your past to God through Jesus Christ and He will take care of it for you.

Let me encourage you to not only put away the sins and failures of the past year, but to learn from them and forget about them. I believe with all my heart that more goals and wonderful projects have never been completed due to people’s inability to forget the past than for any other reason. You won’t accomplish much of anything in the new year if you allow your mind to dwell on the sins, troubles, problems, and failures of your past.

In Isaiah 43:18, God commanded the children of Israel to forget the things of the past. He said: “Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old.” In fact, God himself does not remember our sins. A few verses later in the same chapter he says, “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.” So, if God does not remember our sins, don’t you think it is best for us to do the same?

Dennis DeHaan wrote a little poem that goes like this:

Look not back on yesterday
So full of failure and regret;
Look ahead and seek God’s way–
All sin confessed you must forget.

My friend, put away the old sins and failures of your past. Learn from them and then forget about them so that this next year can be a great one, because there will be no new year for you if there is no new you for the new year.

As we close today, I want to speak to those of you who have never accepted Jesus Christ as your saviour. In other words, you are not “in Christ” right now. I want to show you how you can get in Christ. This is the only way you can change your life from the inside out.

Many great people of the past and present have spoken of Jesus Christ and the impact he has had on their lives.

The great French military and political leader Napoleon Bonaparte said, “I marvel that whereas the ambitious dreams of myself, Caesar, and Alexander should have vanished into thin air, a Judean peasant — Jesus — should be able to stretch His hands across the centuries and control the destinies of men and nations.”Dear friend, you can let Jesus Christ be in charge of your destiny as well.

Basketball great Julius “Dr. J” Erving said, “The purpose of life is to be found through having Christ in your life, and understanding what His plan is, and following that plan.”

Former President George W. Bush said, “Christ is the greatest philosopher: He changed my heart.”

Theologian and historian Philip Schaff said, “Without Christ, life is as the twilight with dark night ahead; with Christ, it is the dawn of morning with the light and warmth of full day ahead.”

The great Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson said, “When Christ came into my life, I came about like a well-handled ship.”

The British writer and media personality Malcolm Muggeridge said, “I can say that I never knew what joy was like until I gave up pursuing happiness, or cared to live until I chose to die. For these two discoveries I am beholden to Jesus.”

NFL quarterback Sam Bradford said, “I really don’t see a reason why you wouldn’t want to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. I mean, not only was He the greatest human being to ever walk the earth, He’s everything that I want to strive for. He’s everything that anyone should ever want to strive for.”

World-famous evangelist Luis Palau said, “One encounter with Jesus Christ is enough to change you, instantly, forever.”

Jesus Christ wants to change you today. He wants to make you a new person from the inside out. God said in Ezekiel 36:26: A “new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.”

God wants to bring about this kind of change in your life. That is why he sent His Son Jesus Christ so that we can be saved from sin and the punishment of sin. The Bible says in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Let me show you how you can accept Jesus Christ as your Saviour today.

First of all, you must understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Please understand that because of your sins, you deserve eternal punishment in hell. Romans 6:23 says “the wages of sin is death… This is both physical death in the grave and eternal spiritual death in the lake of fire.

How can you be saved from this death? Romans 10:9,13 says: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved…For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I have broken your laws. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.

If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God and congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. For more information to help you grow in your new found faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”

God loves you! We love you! May God bless you, and have a great New Year!