Past sins haunts us. An event. A choice. A set of past circumstances that caused deep scars, personal shame and a never ending cycle of deep regret that is still messing with our present. Sin seemed fun for a season, but then reality hit hard and it knocked you down, right? Royally screwing up morally or ethically had consequences that carried a high price tag. You are not alone. On those days when my my deepest regrets decide to prick me, I turn to the Bible and it reminds me that my old self is dead. But, what about the days when memories of the old self come back in living color? God's word gives us 4 keys to stop our past from living in our present.
When our kids were little they did little kid, sinful stuff. I could always see past their antics and know if they were truly repentant or just sorry for getting caught. The clue? Attitude, actions and reactions. They were sorry alright, but not sorry enough to stop their sinful actions. In fact, the way they said sorry was evidence in itself that there was no repentance at all. Are you just sorry about your past or have you truly repented of it?
What is repentance? Repentance is agreeing with God that you have sinned and realizing that your sinful actions and attitudes have brought consequences that only He can take care of. True repentance is being so grieved and repulsed by your sin, that you will drop whatever it is and RUN in the opposite direction. So, what do you do when you have truly repented of that sinful action or attitude, but it the memory of it keeps dragging you back to the pit?
a.) Name that sin in one-5 words. Be specific and raw.
b.) Write that word or phrase in the back of you Bible and copy 1 John 1:9 beside it with today's date.
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9
He is ABLE. The Bible says that God is FAITHFUL and JUST to not only forgive, but to CLEANSE us from everything that doesn't make us right with Him. ALL CLEAN. I love that that word cleanse. God wants us to climb up on His lap with our bloodied, skinned up knees so He can fix it. That is the love of our God! So when your past tries sneaking into your present, remind yourself that you are not only forgiven, but you are all cleaned up from the very thing that offended Him and wounded you.
2. CRUCIFY THE FLESH.
Does your past sin seem to be getting bigger and bigger and messing up your present? It is pretty obvious that if you feed something it will grow. If you starve it, it will die. What seems to be feeding the memories of your past? There are times when the evils of our past become idols in our present. Idols can be things we love or things we loathe, either way our adversary uses them to keep us living in defeat. Think on that. You hate your sin but you can't stop thinking about it, and that make it an idol. Idols can be mind games or heart pains, but either way idols consume our time. Ouch. Now what?
"Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry."
Is your past feeding on your social media accounts, unfiltered computers, toxic friendships, spending habits, or an unhealthy self image? There's a lot of things that we need to stop...wait, wait...God's word said CRUCIFY.
"Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." Galations 5:24
God isn't in the business of mere behavior management. He is in the business of radical redemption and that requires radical action on our part. Crucifying the flesh is not a bloodless event, it is brutal. Crucifying the flesh might mean dropping some social media platforms, stepping back from a friendship, cutting up a few credit cards, getting a flip phone or even making that first counseling appointment to begin the journey of healing.
3. GET HUNGRY FOR JESUS AND HIS WORD.
When you want the past to stop messing with your present, you have got to get serious about the Bible. Get hungry for what God's word says about your past, present and future. It is the biggest weapon against our sinful past and our only source of unchanging truth!
"Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth." 2 Timothy 2:15
Jesus never turns away a hungry soul that is longing for a deeper relationship and relief from a sinful past. When we hunger for Jesus, we are blessed and He satisfies the ache in our souls.
4. RENEW YOUR MIND
Our mind is the first line of defense in stopping the past and embracing a joyful present. Our mind directs our actions-every time. Praise God that the Holy Spirit TRANSFORMS us from the inside out!
"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." Romans 12: 2
If there's one thing you can guarantee about past mistakes and regrets, is that they are never satisfied with staying quiet. They voraciously feed on the replay button of our minds and our enemy loves it. That event, that choice, that moment of moral or ethical sinfulness is in the past and you are left wrestling with memory of it. It's been said that you become what you think. I tend to agree. I am so glad God's word gives us hope for our mind to be healed and transformed.
"Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things." Phillipians 4:8
Memories are meant to be seen through God's perspective that is full of grace and mercy. It isn't about running from your past, it's about chasing God's Truth. It's not about forgetting your past, it is about pressing into God's faithfulness in your present. It's not about positive thinking-it's about praiseworthy thinking. When we allow the Holy Spirit to renew our mind we learn to rest in the unchanging truth that God IS ABLE to make us new-and keep us that way.