With the new year often comes new year resolutions. A resolution is “a course of action determined or decided on” (American Heritage Dictionary). While the coming of a new year prompts us to think of changes we want to make in our lives, what does the Bible say about when the right time is to decide and determine upon a spiritual course of action – to obey the Lord?
The right time to obey the Lord is not determined by convenience. In Acts 9, Saul was on a trip to Damascus to bring Christians bound back to Jerusalem; it would not be described as a convenient time to be disturbed from his mission to be faced with the truth of Jesus Christ. But when face to face with truth, the apostle Saul with an honest and good heart determined and decided that he would do what the Lord told him to do. That involved going into the city where it would be “told what you must do” (Acts 9:6). At the teaching of Ananias, Saul “arose and was baptized” (Acts 9:18).
The right time to decide to obey the Lord is while one is still living. Of course, you say. But how many times do people put off doing what they know is right, thinking they’ll do it tomorrow? Yet tomorrow may never come. “Therefore to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17).
The right time to decide to believe and obey the truth is when the truth is understood. “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them” (Acts 2:41). They understood what they needed to do, and they did it that day. The Philippian jailor responded to the gospel taught him by Paul and Silas “the same hour of the night,” and “immediately he and all his family were baptized” (Acts 16:33).
The right time for a Christian to decide to repent and pray forgiveness from the Lord for sin is as soon as he knows of his sin. Peter directed Simon of Samaria to repent and pray when he sinned, and the Bible says that Simon answered and said, “Pray to the Lord for me” (Acts 8:24), demonstrating a penitent heart without delay.
The right time to obey the Lord is when convicted of the truth. To be convicted means the conscience is telling you are not living up to the knowledge by which it is trained. If you reject the jury of your conscience in the face of truth, you are on your way to searing it “with a hot iron” (1 Timothy 4:2) and shipwrecking your faith.
New year or not, the right time to resolve – to decide – to obey the truth, whether you are still outside of Christ or already in Christ, is today, for there is no other time. Is there something lacking in your service to God that you need to change? Is there some behavior in your life you need to put off? Is there some fruit you need to add? The Bible teaches over and again the urgency of obeying the Lord while it is called today.