Dealing with the Past, Pt 2
The thought of having amnesia is not pleasant. There are times, however, when we might count it a blessing. There are things in our pasts that many of us would just as soon forget. I am thinking specifically of sinful choices and patterns of life that make up our personal history. Some cannot relate as much, but I am sure that others can identify more than they like. How do we deal with that in a biblical way?
Such were some of you
Several things happen at the moment a person comes to Christ in repentance and faith. There are two which extremely relevant for the child of God struggling with his or her past. The Apostle Paul mentions them side by side in 1 Cor 6:9-11,
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherent the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, not idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, not the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you wee justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. (NAS)
Paul had gone to preach the gospel in Corinth. Corinth was not Mayberry. It was a city notorious for its moral decadence. It was infested with the worse sorts of sin. Just read the scripture reference above and you will get a list of the kinds of people to whom Paul preached. What was the message he preached to them? ‘Christ crucified’ was the message he preached them (1 Cor 2:1-2). That is short hand for the message concerning God’s Son, Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for sinners. He took their place, bore their wrath, and broke the power of sin over them. Many were saved. Paul says to them after the fact, ‘such were some of you’. God, through the power of the gospel, delivered them from those sins, and in two ways. First, they were justified. Legally in God’s courtroom, their records were wiped clean as though they had never committed one sin. But that’s not all. Justification means more than that, much more! It also means that in place of their dark records of evil deeds God credited to them Christ’s perfect and sinless life. The moment a sinner trusts in Christ alone for salvation, he is forgiven of all of his sin and has His perfect righteousness credited to him. Second, they were sanctified. The moment they believed, not only were they counted as righteous in God’s sight, they were also made actually holy and righteous. They were supernaturally changed by the Spirit of God from the inside out. They were new creatures in Christ. This is true concerning every genuine believer. How does that relate to dealing with our pasts?
Once a _____ always a ______???
Is that true? Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic? Once a thief always a thief? On we could go with the list. The answer has to be, NO. It has to be no when the glory and the power of the gospel comes into the picture. Note very carefully what Paul did not say. He did not say, ‘Such did some of you’, but ‘such were some of you’. They could no longer be legitimately called those things. I am afraid that many Christians wrestle with their pasts because they simply fail to understand the awesome work that God performed in their lives when He saved them. The past hangs over them like a dark cloud. Consequently, they live in guilt and they see themselves as having merely left certain sins, but are still essentially the same people. Our sinful and shameful pasts have been wiped away by the blood of Christ and in their place is His perfect obedience. We are no longer wicked sinners with evil hearts. Though sin remains, and a Christian may even fall into serious sin, righteousness now reigns supreme in our daily lives. God has, by His Spirit, transformed us from bad people into good people. If we have been saved, that is where we must start when dealing without pasts. This is especially true with those who have things in their pasts that are particularly dark and shameful. If that is you, then realize the awesome freedom that you have from your past. You have been delivered! ‘Such were some of you’. Do not let Satan, others, and yes, even yourself, tell you otherwise. Dealing with your pass successfully starts with who you choose to listen and believe. God, in the gospel of Christ, has spoken the truth about your past. Live free from the chains that He says are no longer there.