I have to confess that I’m not all that great at keeping New Year’s resolutions. Whether its an overly ambitious Bible-reading plan or ridiculous fitness goals, most of time I fall pretty far short of my own expectations. Fortunately, expectations can be adjusted, or even discarded. There’s no immediate consequence that faces me when I fall short of personal resolutions (except maybe disappointment with myself).

But what about God’s expectations, or more accurately, his commandments revealed in the Scriptures? I fall short of meeting those far more often than I disappoint myself. And the consequences are far greater than my own self-disapproval. The Apostle Paul says that “the wages of sin is death,” (Romans 6:23). The prophet Ezekiel says that “the soul who sins shall die, (Ezekiel 18:20). I’m a sinner, and the frightening reality is that Jesus himself says that sinners “will go away into eternal punishment,” (Matthew 24:46).

The good news, of course, is that the Bible also says that Jesus became “sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God,” (2 Corinthians 5:21). John tells us, “If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” (1 John 1:9). Christ has suffered in our place for our failure to obey God, so that we might be forgiven and his righteousness counted as ours. That’s good news! That’s the Gospel.

I’m not sure what resolutions you will make this year (or have already made). I am sure that you won’t meet all of your own expectations in 2013. When that happens, rather than beat yourself up over your failures, remember your greater failure and rejoice in God’s grace and mercy toward you in Jesus Christ.