There’s just something about New Year’s Day that sets it apart from other days, even in Scripture. After the Flood, Noah and all mankind made a fresh start in “the first month, the first day of the month” (Gen. 8:13), and there are other significant New Year’s Days (Ex. 40:2; II Chron. 29:17; Ezra 7:9; Ezek. 45:18). There is even a precedent for “turning over a new leaf” as far as our conduct is concerned. After Ezra commanded Israel to separate themselves from the idolatrous wives they had married, we read that all the men obeyed “by the first day of the first month” (Ezra 10:17).
But in spite of all this, we wonder if the Apostle Paul might be suggesting a better way when he says, “Christ our passover is sacrificed for us” (I Cor. 5:7). Speaking of Passover month, God told Israel that “this month shall be unto you the beginning of months” (Ex. 12:1-11). And when we trust Christ and His Passover blood is applied to our hearts by faith, this is also a new beginning for us.
But Passover was followed on the Jewish calendar by seven days of unleavened bread (Lev. 23:6), in which God’s people were told to remove all leaven from their homes (Ex. 12:15), leaven being a familiar symbol of sin (Matt. 16:12). Thus when Paul goes on to say, “let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (I Cor. 5:8), he is teaching that after we are saved by the blood of our Passover, a daily purging of the leaven of sin from our lives should immediately begin to follow, and not be limited to a single day that comes but once a year.
And so whether or not you decide to address your shortcomings with a New Year’s resolution is up to you. But this writer has noticed that when such resolutions fail, we tend to put off addressing the problem again until next New Year’s Day! We feel a better solution may be found in Paul’s use of the word “henceforth.” We like to encourage God’s people to pause when they see a “henceforth” and ask “whenceforth?” The answer should not be limited to January 1st, but should rather include every time you read a “henceforth” verse. Thus when we read Paul say, “henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk” (Eph. 4:17), and “henceforth we should not serve sin” (Rom. 6:6), we should renew our determination to obey these admonitions with every reading of such verses. Remember,
“…He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again” (II Cor. 5:15).