It’ a new year and while most of us are trying to remember to use 2015 in the dates we write and type, there’s something much more important that might need adjusting as well. It’s our spiritual lives. It’s always a good idea to “take a check-up from the neck up.” But we have to include the heart too; that’s below the neck. Oh well, the analogy doesn’t work well, but you get the idea. When’s the last time you conducted a spiritual audit of your own life?
New Year’s resolutions are in full swing for the next approximately 14 days after which over 80% of those committed to them will have give up on their new year’s resolutions altogether. By the end of January, about 92% of those new years resolutions will have been given up and put off until next January 1st, after which the same pattern will continue. With such a terrible performance of humankind in general to change things in our own lives, is there something we’re overlooking?
Don’t Neglect the Spiritual Realm
It’s easy to ignore the spiritual realm because we cannot see it, taste it, touch it, hear it or feel it. The spiritual realm is outside the sensory realm humans occupy.
I Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
To understand spirit you must become spiritual. That is, you must receive the spirit of and from God in order for you to perceive spiritual things.
John 3:6,7 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
Marvel not that I said unto you, You must be born again.
Trying to explain this to the ‘natural man’ who has not yet been born again is impossible. All we can do is tell them they must believe to receive. But what about your life? What about that spiritual audit we’re talking about?
Be Accountable to God by Acting on His Revealed Word
Each of is accountable to God, not to our neighbor, for our spiritual walk. Your neighbor may be convinced you are the closest thing to Jesus on earth, but God sees more. So what does God judge our walks by? By His revealed Word of course.
Let’s see what Jesus says about this very thing.
John 12:48 He that rejects me, and receives not my words, has one that judges him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.
Jesus is God’s Word in the flesh. God’s Word is the judge and the justifier. We order our lives according to God’s revealed Word and that is how we stay accountable to God.
Our theme verse contains an exhortation and a promise.
Colossians 1:9,10 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that you might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
that ye might walk worthy of the Lord, pleasing him in everything, being fruitful in every good work, and growing in the knowledge of God.
The exhortation is to walk in a manner that is pleasing to God as you increase in the knowledge of His will (which is revealed in His Word). Let’s break this down to make it very clear and easy to follow.
- Be filled with the knowledge of His Will
- Walk worth of the Lord
- Be fruitful in every good work
- Grow in the knowledge of God
There’s an alternating structure here if you look closely:
A. Filled with the knowledge of His will
- B. Walk worthy of the Lord
- B. Bear fruit in every good work
A. Grow in the knowledge of God
In this structure, A corresponds to A while B corresponds to B.
As you are filled with the knowledge of God’s will by studying, understand and applying God’s Word, you grow in the experiential knowledge of God. You get to know God by seeing him work in your own life and with you toward others.
Your part in the “A” pair is to study and gain a good understanding of God’s Word. This is a continual process. You grow as you do this. God’s part is to reveal His will to you as you study.
Your part in the “B” pair is to walk worthy by applying the Word of God you are learning. It’s to walk worthy by being who God has called you to be and by doing what God asks you to do. God’s part is to give the increase so you bear fruit in everything (that is every good work) that you do.
Understanding our part and God’s part helps us to conduct the spiritual audit I’m talking about.
An audit is a careful check or review of something. We’re talking about taking a spiritual audit. Given the scriptures above, there are two questions you can ask yourself to determine if you’re on track spiritually.
- Are you growing in the knowledge of God’s Word?
- Are you walking worthy of the Lord by applying what you’re learning?
And one final question: Are these things “the” priority in your life?
Your spiritual walk is between you and your Father God once you’ve been born again of God’s spirit. Only He can cause you to grow as you continue in His Word and will. Only He can give you the increase as you walk worthy of the Lord.
God’s promise to you is that you will be fruitful in every good work as you do these things.
How to Make Adjustments to Your Spiritual Walk
Ask yourself the two questions above. Give them serious consideration and be honest with your answers. You can’t fool God. Of course not. If you feel you could do better, then set some simple goals to achieve more through more discipline.
If you are not growing in the knowledge of God, it’s time to set up a study habit and stick to it. Set aside a few hours a week to study God’s Word. It doesn’t have to be all at once; a half hour to an hour a day will help much. If you haven’t set up such a time, I encourage you to do so now.
If you aren’t walking worthy of the Lord, then you have some changes to make in your lifestyle. Get rid of the old man habits and put on the new, spiritual man’s habits. Talk to God throughout the day not just at specific prayer times. Talk to him like you talk to a highly respected relative or friend. Do what God’s Word says and don’t do what God’s Word says not to do. It’s very simple but we have to fight the old habits — not by the flesh but by the spirit God gave to us. Learn to walk by the spirit and not according to the flesh.
Galatians 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
Three reasons have been postulated for why 92% of people give up on their goals, new years’ or otherwise. There they are:
- People make unrealistic resolutions.
- People don’t equip themselves with the mental ammunition to fight off doubt and continue with their goals.
- Using guilt or fear as motivation, or resolving to stop doing something
To overcome the first obstacles, set realistic goals. Devoting a half hour to an hour studying the Bible each day shouldn’t be that hard to do. If so, set a smaller goal of several times a week rather than every day. Quitting a bad habit can take up to 40 days of conscientious effort, so do what you need to do to ensure your victory. Enlist one or more true friend’s help, get involved in a support group or do whatever you need to do to keep on track with the goals you set.
To overcome the second obstacle, arm yourselves with more of the knowledge of God’s Word. Steep yourself in God’s Word so that it seeps down into your heart and becomes part of you. Change from within is much easier than forcing change from without. Pray often, trust in the Lord and believe He will supply your need, your deliverance or will arrange whatever needs to happen to help you win.
To overcome the third obstacle, remember God loves you. He doesn’t ask you to do anything that isn’t in the end beneficial for you as well. Trust that God loves you and is looking out for you. Keep God first. The promises of God are positive so stay positive. Remember the promise in Colossians 1:9 and 10: you will be fruitful in every good work as you walk worthy of the Lord in the knowledge of God and in spiritual understanding. Don’t worry, it will come and it will increase as you continue in His Word.
I hope this has helped you make the decision to set new goals this year to walk closer with our Lord and to bear much fruit. If I can be of any help, let me know.
If you’d like a good book of solid Scriptural principles regarding these things, I suggest you visit http://christiangoalsetting.org and pick up a copy of Christian Goal Setting and Achieving: Pressing Toward the Goal for the Prize! It will help you in every area of life.