January 2022

January 2022

2022—Time for a Fresh Start?

I’ve always liked the feeling of a new year. It seems like an opportunity to reset. Projects that I’ve left unfinished during the holiday season are beckoning. Records begin anew, without the mess of the previous twelve months. In some ways, life becomes a clean slate.

In other ways, however, I recognize that the turn of a new year is artificial. God did not institute the month of January. It’s not built into creation. In fact, when God established the calendar for His people Israel, he had them start their new year in the spring, with months based on moon phases, not the progress of the sun. Our new year is a human invention, and it doesn’t really have any power to give us a genuinely fresh start.

That’s especially true when we consider the things that most fill us with regret from the past year—our sins. The transition from 2021 to 2022 has no power to wipe clean the slate of our conscience. We’re still the same sinners on January 1 as we were on December 31.

Thankfully, we don’t have to wait for a new year—and wait in vain—to get a clean slate. Through faith in Jesus Christ, God wipes our slate clean every day.

Our clean slate begins with the once for all sacrifice of Jesus on the cross to pay for the sin of the world. St. Paul tells us that God has “forgiven you all trespasses, blotting out the handwriting of ordinances against us which stood in opposition to us; and this He set aside, nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2:14). The illustration St. Paul uses here is striking: There is in the sight of God a “record” of our transgressions, akin to a check register detailing all of our debts, which we cannot possibly repay. But God has taken a pen and ink and blotted out that record so that it becomes illegible. Nor has He done this arbitrarily, “just because.” He has specifically “nailed it to the cross,” that is, it is through Jesus’ innocent death on the cross that our debts, our sins, were atoned for. Jesus has paid what we owe, and so we have a clean slate.

This clean slate has been won for the whole world, but we do not receive it as our own until God gives it to us. St. Paul explains in

the same passage how this happens: You have “been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised with Him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you who were dead in your trespasses … God made alive together with Him” (Colossians 2:12–13). When Jesus had died for the sin of the world, God raised Him from the dead, fresh and clean and new. By baptism, God unites us to Jesus, so that we die and rise with Him, fresh and clean and new as He is. This takes place “through faith in the powerful working of God.” When we believe the Gospel, we have by faith everything that baptism gives us, which is everything that Jesus won for us on the cross.

When do we believe the Gospel? Every day!

That means that every day we receive anew the forgiveness of our sins. Every day we are raised with Jesus from the death of sin. Every day our slate is wiped clean. Every day we get a fresh start.

Has your slate been marred by sin? Is your conscience overwhelmed with the sense of failure and impurity? No need to wait for the new year to get a fresh start! God invites and empowers you right now to repent, to turn from sin, to believe the Gospel, and to have your slate wiped clean at this moment and at every moment.

I still look forward to the “fresh start” of 2022. But what a joy to know that in Christ, in those things where it really matters, I get a truly fresh start every day. May this truth bring you joy and peace in the new year and throughout your life, until God gives the whole world a new start at the coming of His Son Jesus on the Last Day—the First Day of the new heavens and the new earth!

God's Blessings to All!

Pastor Neuendorf