Jonathan Edwards famously had a list of resolutions which he sought to live by. With a few exceptions (i.e., “Resolved, never to speak anything that is ridiculous, sportive, or matter of laughter on the Lord’s day.︎”), these were wise goals for growth in holiness, restraint of sinful desires, and productivity in work. Used rightly, such resolutions can be an aid to us in making progress in our sanctification. Used wrongly, it can turn us into a ball of legalistic guilt.
So if you’ve resolved to make a resolution, without fail temptation to compromise will soon come barreling towards you. The dead man thinks his mere resolve will be enough to stop the temptation dead in its tracks. But that’s like expecting to stop a freight train by sticking your ankle out to trip it. Something’s gonna get broken, and it ain’t gonna be the train.
Resolve is an act of the will. The will is either in bondage to sin, or renewed by the saving work of the Holy Spirit. If it is a will in bondage, the result will be a bloodbath. If it’s a will which has been renewed, the resolutions which are made will be made taking into account a few things.
First, your good works are not and will never be the grounds of your righteousness before God. Second, battling sin and growing in holiness are the work of the Holy Spirit working our salvation out in us. Third, our continual resolve should be aimed at glorifying God, and loving our neighbor. Fourth, the renewed will will have new desires, and new hatreds; it will desire Christ, and hate sin.
In short, if you’ve trusted in Christ, you have a new will which, by grace, joyfully resolves to pursue godliness and fight sin. You have that new will, because God resolved to save you.