There is a simple rule of goal-setting I learned in my thousands of dollars of behavior therapy and support groups called the Dead Man Principle. I haven’t been able to find the origins, but I’ll share it with you…and for free!! The basic principle is that when setting a goal you should never set a goal a dead man could do better. Goals such as, stop over-eating, stop being anxious, stop getting upset…all of these things a dead man could do better than you ever could.
After hearing this for the first time, my mind immediately went back to a sermon Chris preached once on Romans 6: Dead to Sin, Alive to God. In it, he talked about how when the Bible says we have died to sin, it means we are like that of a dead man- these desires and passions are no longer alive in us. This truth is the ultimate expression of the Dead Man Principle.
Christ took our sinful desires upon himself when he was crucified – when he died, we died. But because of His resurrection, we are now alive in Christ and can live in ways that are contrary to our sin nature. The way we live our life on this earth should be a reflection of this reality. Because of Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit, we have been given the power to live a supernatural life. Therefore, our life goals should also be a reflection of this. Rather than saying, “stop being anxious,” we say, “walk by faith.” Walking means we are alive. Life, not just death. And walking by faith requires putting off anxiety, renewing our mind, and supernatural dependence on the Lord (Ephesians 5). In Christ, we are dead to sinful anxiety and alive to faith.
Here’s how Francis Schaeffer describes our life of faith:
According to the Bible, we are to be living a supernatural life now, in this present existence, in a way we shall never be able to do again through all eternity. We are called upon to live a supernatural life now, by faith. Eternity will be wonderful, but there is one thing heaven will not contain, and that is the call, the possibility, and the privilege of living a supernatural life here and now by faith before we see Jesus face-to-face. This is the demonstration that God intends in the world until Christ returns, and it is the Christian who is to be the demonstration. Christians are called upon to be a demonstration at our point of history that the supernatural, the normally unseen world, does exist and, beyond that, that God exists. They are to do this individually and corporately, each generation of Christians to their own generation.”
Living a life of faith is not your average, run of the mill January goal setting standard. It is unique, extraordinary, and supernatural. It is more than a life free of binge-watching Netflix and binge-eating ice cream. It is water walking. It is living in love. So when we purpose how to live in 2016, sure let’s set some goals. But let’s also remember that the old nature in us died with Christ, so let’s ask the Holy Spirit to help us walk by faith in newness of life.
**Note:Goal-setting sheets pictured are free downloads from Money Saving Mom. I use these each year for my goal-setting process/review.