Happy New Year, friends. If you’re anything like me, every last Christmas tree needle has been swept from the house, the gnarls of Christmas lights are tucked away in boxes, and you just found a stray ornament that didn’t make it into those boxes—one that will possibly sit on your dresser until next year, because you’re just not walking that thing down into your unfinished basement when it’s 6 degrees outside. Or maybe no one is like me. At any rate, here we sit at the top of a new year. A fresh slate prime for dreams and ambitions to be etched into its stone. Another chance to strive for what might not have been accomplished last year. A new beginning.

In the midst of the excitement and zeal for the months ahead, a stark reality exists—a change from one year to the next doesn’t mean we’ve changed. But you knew that. Whatever we hope will be different about ourselves in 2018 will only be so if we do something different than we did last year. If we make changes. Thus, the ever-popular New Year’s Resolution.

But I don’t want to talk to you about resolutions today. Rather, I want to talk about milk versus meat. I want to talk to you about being spiritual people instead of worldly people, or merely human people. This is actually really thrilling and may be our answer to not only a new year but also a newer us. Follow me for a moment into Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church—a letter particularly applicable to our day and culture.

Paul wrote that he was speaking to the church in words “taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people.” (1 Cor 2:13.) As I sometimes struggle to understand the things I read in the Bible, or even the deeper Christian writings, my first thought when reading this passage this morning was, Lord, if the Spirit teaches spiritual things to spiritual people—and often I don’t hear you in the way I long to—am I not as spiritual as I need to be? Have I let the pleasures and comforts and selfish desires of this world overtake me?

 I know what you’re thinking— “Don’t be too hard on yourself or so legalistic, especially at the top of a happy New Year.” But it felt like a good and liberating question to ask the Lord. I continued reading…

“For my part, brothers and sisters, I was not able to speak to you as spiritual people but as people of the flesh, as babies in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food, since you were not yet ready for it…because you are still worldly. For since there is envy and strife among you, are you not worldly and behaving like mere humans?” (1 Cor 3:1-4.)

Again, HAPPY NEW YEAR FRIENDS! Isn’t this encouraging?

The freeing truth is encouraging, yes: when we evaluate the selfishness and envying and strife we often foster in our relationships, we begin to see how these get in the way of hearing the voice of the Spirit in our lives. When we’re competitive or unkind, or worldly in our thinking and passions, it reveals a spiritual immaturity we want to grow out of in 2018, not simply for better behavior’s sake, but so we can grow into being spiritual people who understand spiritual things…so the Lord doesn’t have to hold back a feast for mere formula.

One of the crucial processes to growing into spiritual maturity is through studying the Bible. The reason this is true is because both the Old and New Testaments testify of our Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ, the One whose grace forms us into His likeness so we can further grasp the way the Spirit would have us to live. The Bible reveals Jesus to us. So if we’re going to be different in 2018, we have to commit to studying His Word.

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The most spiritually transformative period of my life took place over a decade ago when I realized that so much of my depression, anxiety, unrest, general stuckness, and perpetual unhappiness had to do with having placed my hope and affections on the stuff and the people of this world—some of which was inherently really good. These people and things had become harmful because they had become all-consuming idols. The Lord, in His kindness, stripped me of these false gods that weren’t bringing me lasting joy anyhow, turning my attention and affections to Himself. My whole life changed. Not simply because of a new year but a whole new way to live.

If you’re looking for joy, hope, or healing in the New Year—if you’re desiring not just a new year but a newer you—studying the Bible reveals where we find that joy, hope, and healing. It tells us how to be spiritual people who understand the secret of spiritual knowledge. It’s all found in Jesus Christ, and no other god rivals Him.

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How will you be different in 2018? What steps will you take? What will you do differently? Whatever you do, make studying the Bible a top priority starting in January.

If any of my story resonates with you, you might consider beginning your year with No Other Gods: The Unrivaled Pursuit of Christ, a Bible study based on the passages of Scripture that have so changed my life. I recently re-wrote that study and added teaching videos to it. You can find the DVD leader kit and member book in my store.