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How to Not Let the Past Dictate the Future

June 24, 2014 by

chains

I am so thankful that I am a new me. I don’t like everything about the old me.

This isn’t a post where I get bragging rights. I’m not here to boast about how together I am.

In fact, I wrote recently about how we must be careful not to fall into the comparison trap. If you missed that post, you can read it here – Grace, Not Perfection.

You see, I have this wonderful friend who has, on occasion, lamented about how he wishes he had come to faith in Jesus Christ earlier in his life as it would have saved him some grief. I try to remind him that our pasts have made us who we are in the present. We all have regrets about who we were and the things we have done, but we need to remember that it is the present that dictates how we are affected by our past.

Romans 8:1 says that there “is now no more condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”.

Scripture also tells us that the enemy is not only the father of lies (John 8:44), but that he wants, more than anything, to drive us away from God. One of his tricks is to get us to believe that we are who our past says we are.

2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us that we are new creations and the old has passed away. If we believe this to be true, then why do we try so hard to cling to the old man rather than live in the freedom of forgiveness offered by Christ on the cross?

Do we recognize that when we do not learn to forgive ourselves as Christ has and choose to hold onto to our past mistakes, we are allowing the victory to go to the enemy rather than to the Victor. Christ has conquered sin and death!

It is my prayer that when we struggle with this issue, we would do a few things.

First, I believe we need to go to God in prayer and ask Him to help us truly understand the fullness of His gift on the cross. If He has forgiven us, why can we not forgive ourselves?

Secondly, we need to be in His Word. The Bible is such an incredible gift to us, and one that we take too often for granted. God has given us His Word that we may know Him. The more we know what He says, the more we know His heart, and the more His truths are allowed to transform us.

Philippians 3:13-14 says, “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Do you remember Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt when she looked behind her? She wanted to cling to her past rather than enter into the better life God had for her. 

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. ~Lamentations 3:22-23 (NKJV)

Friends, God doesn’t intend for our pasts to dictate who we are or what we do with our lives. We were created for a purpose. How can we seek His kingdom and His righteousness when we hold onto the chains of the past that allow us to go nowhere?

My last piece of advice is to focus not on where you wish you were or who you wish you had been, but on who God wants you to be. When we surrender our lives to His, He will complete the work he has begun in us. (Philippians 1:6)

I’ve heard it said that when the enemy reminds you of your past, you should remind him of his future. The next time you are struggling with who you used to be, ask God to reveal to you who He is making you to be. Visit the memories of the old you just long enough to praise God for the new you.

Thank you, Father, for giving us Your Son. We thank You for His sacrifice that not only cleanses us from our sins, but frees us from the guilt of our past. Help us to realize this truth in our lives so that we can serve You in freedom. In the precious name of Jesus, we pray. Amen. 

I’m so thankful that God has made me new. I look forward to seeing how He continues to grow me in Him. While this process takes time, how are you thankful for the new you?

This post was shared on Renewed Daily.

10 Responses to How to Not Let the Past Dictate the Future

  1. Rick

    You are so right Heather, this is a very real struggle with many of us and can have such a negative impact on our walk. Pastor Rick Warren’s Saddleback church has over 4,500 small groups that meet outside of the big church to do life together in biblical community. The importance of this setting was modeled in the early churches in the bible and I believe shows the importance of walking close together in our faith. It allows an environment where we if not at once, eventually can feel safe enough to share our struggles with others and walk through them together. John Baker, a senior pastor on staff at Saddleback created a 12 step program that mirrors AA because he saw the value for some people in going through a very intentional biblical based program to help them get over “habits, hurts, and hang ups”. Many churches now have adopted the program called Celebrate Recovery and it is worth looking into if you really struggle with your past and getting beyond the pain of it. Ultimately, the purpose of CR is to point you to Jesus who is our all. It’s just nice to see that we have other Christian avenues to help us navigate, with our brothers and sisters, the deep waters of our past we may find ourselves treading in. I heard Billy Graham say, “We may not know what the future holds, but we know who holds our future”. I like that.

    • Heather

      Celebrate recovery is a wonderful program. I remind myself often of that Billy Graham quote. There is so much hope in that truth.

  2. Arlene Baker

    GOD once told me that living in the past was similar to walking through life backwards. It is difficult to see and you will always be tripping over obstacles. Great post–praying for all of us to see this truth! Thanks

  3. Ilze

    Living in the past paralyzes us- that is what the enemy wants. But GOD wants us to have hope for future. He wants to use us for His Glory. He already has provided everything we need to live abundant life in HIM including forgiveness for all sins committed in past. How can we be so proud as not to humbly receive this gift of His sacrifice for us? Do we think we can somehow pay for the sins of past we hold onto? Yes, we do not deserve the forgiveness but let not our pride prevent us from enjoying His abundance of new life He offers us. Let us be thankful and Praise His name!!!

  4. bonniesteinborn

    Wonderful reminder of all that Christ has done for us. I love your use of the Scripture to support your points. What a great summary of truths we all need to REMEMBER each and every day. Life in Jesus is truly something we need to celebrate DAILY — and never question!:) Keep up the great posts! Your writing is so inspiring and a definitely encouragement to all :)

    • Heather

      I think we lose sight of how important that is. Too often, we focus on the necessity of extending forgiveness to others, but forget that the same applies to self. Thanks for reading, Caleb. Blessings to you and your family.

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