By Tim Sullivan


Around the world, New Year’s Day is celebrated as a day of new beginnings. The trouble is, it may be a new year, but most often, people are still the same old people, making the same old resolutions-and the same old mistakes-year after year.

Even for the most sincere, the first of January can mark a fresh start, but not a new start. The only way to have a new start is to abolish the old.

When God established a new covenant with his people, he made the first covenant old.

Hebrews 8:13:
In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.

God’s new covenant with his people marked a brand new beginning.

Hebrews 8:12:
For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.

This new covenant was made possible by a new and living way.

Hebrews 10:20:
By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;

By the death of Jesus on the cross, and our death in him, we were delivered from the law of sin and death, making it possible for us to serve God in newness of spirit.

Romans 7:6:
But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.

This new and living way is open to the new man.

Ephesians 2:15:
Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;

The entrance to this new covenant is by true repentance and forgiveness of sin, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Acts 5:31:
Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.

Without true repentance, and subsequent forgiveness from God, there can be no new start. Man’s lack of repentance is precisely why he is doomed to travel the same roads year after year, making the same mistakes. This psalm of David, written after his misdeed with Bath-sheba, shows the nature of true repentance.

Psalm 51:1-3:
Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.

King David realized that, as terrible as his behavior had been towards Uriah and Bath-sheba, the one he had truly hurt was God Almighty, who had entrusted him with so much.

4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.

David besought the Lord to cleanse him of his sins.

7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.
9 Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

David knew that until he was cleansed, he could not stand in the Lord’s presence, with the Lord’s holy anointing.

11 Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.
12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.

There is true repentance and there is the “show” of repentance. David’s repentance was without the arrogance so apparent in those who don’t believe what they did was wrong in the first place, or who are only sorry they got caught. “Okay, okay, God, I admit I did it. I am sorry. There, does that make you happy? I am sorry. I said it. Now just hurry up and forgive me, because there are a lot of things I want you to do for me today.” When David realized the magnitude of his sin toward God, it broke his heart.

16 For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

The sacrifices of God, as we read, are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart. Anything less is not true repentance and does not lead to a new beginning. But for those who truly repent, a new beginning awaits.

Psalm 103:10-12:
10 He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
11 For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.
12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

As Christians, we can be renewed daily in Christ.

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

Regardless of the sins of the past, to the one who seeks God’s mercies and forgiveness, a new life awaits.

Daniel 9:9:
To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him;

This truly can and will be a new year for us as we walk in newness of life.

Romans 6:4:
Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

We can walk in this newness because of the God of life who alone can say, “Behold, I make all things new” (Rev. 21:5). Come, let us walk in newness of life and spirit. Amen!



From the February 2001 issue of The Vine & Branches