Often we come into contact with Christians that are filled with bad and haunting memories from their past. In them they are confused, don’t understand, and seem hopelessly in a “prison in the inner being. Perhaps you have dark memories from your past that bother you. Maybe you find that they are crippling you and keeping you imprisoned in an inner struggle of your mind. If this is the case and you struggle with your past, you are not alone! In fact more Christians than you could ever know struggle with this serious issue. You know what? Each of them desire to understand their past and escape this prison so that they can live life not as a victim of the past but live victoriously in Christ Jesus.
More Christians than you know struggle with this serious issue.
A. Some Past Memory Issues People Struggle With:
While not knowing your particular memory issues, some freequent types of dark memories from the past that haunt Christians may include but are certainly are not limited to:
> child abuse;
> drunkenness issues of the past;
> issues of lying,
> past marriage and sexual issues;
> bad financial decisions;
> war related memories;
> work related memories from such work as paramedic work;
> blasphemy of the Holy Ghost,
Now the issue (s) of the past you are dealing with may or may not be from sin in your life. Past issues fall into two categories. The first is category is that of a non sinful innocent past. For example in this category the person committed no wrong, something could have been done to them or they have difficulty with the past due to extreme circumstances they found themselves in. The second category is that of a sinful guilty past. This is where sin has been committed by the person. Sin, being properly defined as the lack of conformity unto, or an actual transgression of God’s law.
B. The Deliverance From The Prison of The Past And The Renewal Of The Mind Comes From The Word Of God By The Power Of The Holy Spirit.
Believers and unbelievers alike are talking about the hurts of the past, abuses of the past, and the damaged memories of the past. Your deliverance from this WILL NOT come from TV and radio talk show hosts such as Dr. Phil, Oprah, Matt Lauer; Katie Couric; etc. It is sad to say that it may not come from advice that even some Christian Pastors or “counselors” give you. You will see this below as you keep reading. Many talk about these things but they DO NOT have the proper answers and solutions in helping you understand the past. Listed are some of the answers and solutions being promoted. Things like:
1. The dispensing of tranquilizers in moderation to help you “handle and overcome” these memories that want to come to the forefront of your thinking.
2. The partaking of shock treatments in order to “ handle and overcome” your past memories.
3. The exercising of a mystical “Pentecostal” deliverance having demons of the past “being cast out”.
4. The counsel by many Christians to merely have a “forget it and move on” approach. Pastors and Christians many times seek to apply Phil. 3:13 which states, "forgetting those things which are behind". They say “put it behind you and move on with your life. Don’t dwell on the past, live for the present.” “How?” You may ask. The answer, commonly stated is, "When bad thoughts come, just pray and press on while you read your Bible, attend church and serve Jesus.
To use this passage would mislead Christians that are imprisoned in their minds concerning their past.
This however is not proper since the context here is that Paul is not talking about forgetting his past sins and / or life issues. He however, is talking about the way he once tried to “get right with God!” Therefore this is not the answer for the issue we are addressing. To use this passage would mislead Christians that are imprisoned in their minds concerning their past.
Therefore, Christian friends, we must look to the Creator who made us and follow His helpful guidance and direction in such matters. Let us learn and never forget the first Psalm and the inspired writers wise counsel, promise and warning.
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.” (Psa 1:1-6)
Christians must then go to the Bible to sufficiently find the answers in commandments, principles and precepts concerning how to understand the past. The Bible gives the direction so that the past caqn be understood so that it is not that of dark imprisonment. The past can be understood and looked at so that one can be a victor in life and live as a victim. God’s word provides the life changing solution to this big problem which so many so many Christians seem to face.
Therefore whichever category of past you have difficulty understanding be it known today that you can understand it, do properly that which needs to be done, and have the prison doors of your mind opened. You can have forgiveness if needed, make any needed restitution, have renewal! Praise the Lord. Understanding the past, you can move on with your life! You can become a victor through the direction of God by His sufficient Word and by the dynamic power of the Holy Spirit working in your life!
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Phi 2:12-13)
Our prayer is that this very hour, no make that this very minute, our God grant you a renewed mind and continued growth in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ ( 2 Pt. 3:18)
Let us learn and never forget the first Psalm and the inspired writers wise counsel, promise and warning.
II. God’s Solution:
A. Your Past Memories Are From God, A Great Benefit , And They Affect The Future And Growth In Progressive Sanctification.
In understanding your past you must understand that your past and the memories from it are from God. The past memories is a good thing for you for many different reasons.
Now you may wish that you could wipe the past out of your mind since it has troubled you, been such a pain or seem so unfair. But that is not the position of God our Creator. According to God all memories of the past are a gift from Him. This is how he has created us to be – with the ability to remember the past. Since He created us this way the it is good for us to remember our past. Not only that but it serves us in bringing many benefits and blessings in our lives. This benefit from our Creator helps us in directing our lives spiritually, physically and familial.
The past can and does affect the future. And that is good! Not only is this clear from a passage in Galatians where we see God showing us that our past certainly affects our future and He calls us to remember: "Do not be deceived. God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap." (Gal. 6:7). But we also find this revealed over and over to us in the wisdom book of Proverbs.
List passages here from the Book of Proverbs:
“How is our past a benefit to us?” you might ask. Our past is of great benefit to us in several ways as you see listed here:
1. It helps us in facing all things, whether good or adversity, in life with strength and confidence. "Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity" (Job 2:10). If adversity we can be as confident as David knowing that, "The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear. He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine" (I Sam. 17:37).
2. It helps us to handle trials that come into our life. "Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity" (Job 2:10).
3. Another blessing of have a past and the memory of the past is that when we remember circumstances of the past we get to judge ourselves and that dear friends helps us to repent and to worship God our Creator properly. "Remember therefore from where you have fallen, and repent" (Rev. 2:5; see also 1 Cor. 11:23-34)
4. Our memories and past also keep us humble. "Remember, do not forget how you provoked the Lord your God to wrath in the wilderness" (Deut. 9:7).
5. Our past also helps us to show mercy and forgive others. "You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you entreated me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, even as I had mercy on you?" (Matt. 18:32-33).
~Therefore we need our past memories and any attempt to clean or clear from your mind or counsel to merely forget you past is unthinkable, very ungodly and unwise counsel to you. The past is a blessing and is of great benefit and aid to us in our spiritual growth process. You and I need to understand our past and these purposes for them.
B. Viewing the Past in Two Categories
It is important that the two categories of the past be identified. The categories are a.) the innocent past and b.) the guilty past. It is it is imperative that we separate our past into these two categories before seeking to apply biblical principles and precepts. Either category can be dealt with properly and appropriately. But if the category of the past is not defined and properly understood then the approach you take to understanding and handling your past will be very detrimental to you. For example if you have been sinned against then for you to approach it as thought you have sinned is grave error. You will be trying to repent and ask forgievness when you did nothing wrong and as we know this just adds fuel to the past. Likewise to have sinned and to seek to live as though you have not sinned but place the blame elsewhere is to suppress truth and this also adds to your “dark imprisoning past” memories. Once again if one applies one set of Biblical principles and precepts to the wrong category the person will be mislead, confused, definitely wrong and still “imprisoned” by his or her past.
Since then this is so important let us look briefly at the dynamics in both of these categories. First we will look at the innocent past then the guilty past.
1. The Innocent Past Catagory. – This is the past wherein the person did not commit sin but suffered just as the result of living in a sinful world.
a.) Other Person (s) Involved:
It may be that you suffered mentally, physically and spiritually at the hands another. Or it may be that you suffered in the past through some of life’s tough circumstances. Each of these situation call for different responses. But either way we can grow and move on with our lives. The prison doors of victimization, due to not understanding the past, can be opened and you can be set free.
If another person (s) was involved and you were wronged by them then there are questions for you to answer. Each question answered properly will direct a response from you to call you to action in order to understand the past and handle it biblically from Gods perspective.
Questions to consider regarding understanding the past when wronged by a person.
Responses to help guide you properly.
1. Do I remember ( is my memory) of the past perfect?
1 a. - The answers here is so that you do not distort any facts since memories are not 100 % and the past is always interpreted or reinterpreted.
2. Am I interpreting the situation correctly?
2 a. - See above
3. Was a crime committed against me?
3 a. - If so then the suthorities are to be brought into the picture. (Gen 9; Rom 13)
4. Is there a statute of limitations still in effect for the crime?
4 a. - This will let you know if you can still persue the person for guilty conviction in the courts. NOTE if not you can still understand and handle the past in an appropriate manner.
5. Are there appropriate witness to the crime?
5 a. - There really need to be two witnesses. Counsult with your attorney on this if there are not two clear witnesses.
6.Do I need to call in the civil authorities?
6 a. - If a crime was committed, YES
7. Do I need an attorney?
7 a. – if the same answer in 6 a is the same yes
8. Do I need to confront the person (s)?
8 a. – If there is not a crime but you were sinned against (Matt 18; Luke 17))
9. If yes, then have I done so?
9 a. – be sure to do so to witness or to restore a fellow believer (Matt 18)
10. If the person (s) have repented then have I forgiven them? (Lk. !7 in context on forgiveness),
10 a – Lk 17 states that is your basic duty. I suggest reading the passage in contest and through. It is very eye opening.
11. Am I truly innocent?
11 a. – check the events as you recall them and your heart, motives and actions.
12.Was my response godly (according to biblical concepts precepts and commandments)?
12 a – same answer as 11 a.
13. Have I acknowledged God’s providential care in all of life’s past? “You meant it for evil, God meant it for good!
13 a – this is where since the past bothers you and you lack understanding of it htat you possibly have not acknowledged god;s providence and lived under His provision in you life appropriately. This paper deals with God’s providence .and our response. Read, learn and practice… OKAY!
14. Is my mind guarded with the peace of God and is the God of peace present with me now and in the past experience (s).
14 a. – Do and apply Phil. 4:4-9 – Right thinking / right praying / right action brings the peace of God and the God of peace into our daily lives in a huge way.
These questions answered properly will direct your steps and will give an understanding of the past stopping confusing and open those prison doors so that you may live as a victor even when there were or are difficult times in our life.
The clarifying question here is "Was another person directly involved?" Each answer provides guidance for which Biblical principles need to be applied next.
b. No Persons Involved
If in the situation another person is not involved and you just faced tough times as a result of the fall you still can grow and be set free from the prison you have placed yourself in. The Lord has not abandoned you and is in the past! These difficult innocent situations are used by our sovereign Lord to give us great opportunities to grow in the faith and knowledge of Christ and His Kingdom.
Some suggested questions which you should consider in this situation include: “What other servants of God can I list and read about that have faced tough times and handled them?”, “How can this trial be used by me as an opportunity to become more like Christ my Saviour?”, “What are the event (s) trying to teach me about the providence and authority of God in my life?”
The dark moments of our past and the difficult situation (s) you found yourself are very real. But the particulars of the past that you have not understood really does not matter for another greater reality is that no matter what may have happened in your past you must come to grips with the fact that nothing surprises God. That’s right! God is always there (Psalm. 139; Phil 4). Not only is He always present in the most difficult and dark situations but He, in them, is always making provision for His people in every one of those situations. Joseph is an explicit example of God being there with him throughout all the trials and difficult circumstances of his past. And as He was with Joseph so was He with you. Now in recalling the account of Joseph we find he was a man that was abused by family members, sold into slavery, lied upon, wrongly imprisoned, at the least opportune time he was forgotten, very misunderstood, etc. Yet when he reflected on the past he properly understood it and concluded that “… they thought evil against me, but God meant it unto good. . ..” (See also Gen.45:5-7; Acts 17:25-31; Rom. 8:28-29; Eph. 1:4, 11; and Jer. 29:11).
Now as a Christian you are a new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17), forgiven and set free from the guilt and burden of sin. With this forgiveness come the freedom, opportunity and human responsibility to actively and properly interpret and respond to your situation from God’s perspective. This is the accountability that comes to you regarding your choices and actions no matter what memories of the past may linger in your mind (Gen. 37-50; Prov. 4:23; Mark 7:14-23; James 1:13-15). Therefore you can say that the past was difficult but God has brought it in my life and He meant it (whatever it was) unto good for me.
This is where we get to understand God working in our lives caring for us and giving us the opportunity to count our blessings one by one!
In context, you are a child of God, indwelt by the Holy Spirit and are a responsible human being capable of learning the character and person of your caring heavenly Father. Therefore then a correct knowledge of God, His workings in this world and how they affect you are to be understood. Christians are to recognize and give homage to the Father from whom nothing comes by chance but for His provision of all things necessary for our life, growth and direction in order to carry out His purposes.
Nothing in your past just happened by chance, or astrological movement. nor by Satan, but by God’s governance. There is no such thing as luck, or chance for with God all things have been decreed to be as they are in our lives. You may not ever understand why things happened in your life but rest assured God had a purpose in it. There are blessings to count. In war time you may have been there just in order to help others that were in need. Perhaps you needed to see sinful depraved “man’s inhumanity to man”. Or some other blessing God was presenting for you. Now even though there were scenes you could have chosen not to see I suggest you start looking at what God has done in your life through those difficult times. This is where we get to practice counting our blessings one by one! As you do this you will come to recognize that whatever comes to pass, whether years of plenty or famine, sickness or health, riches or poverty, life or death are all governed by God.
Knowing that all things are from the Fatherly hand of God we Christians have much profit and hope in life’s blessings and in life’s adversities.
Knowing that all things are from the Fatherly hand of God we Christians have much profit and hope in life’s blessings and in life’s adversities. Therefore dear friend the “victimization prison doors” of the mind open up as we learn to be patient in times of adversity while being confident in God our Father to uphold us and sustain us by His Fatherly hand even in difficult circumstances and situations. Out thoughts of God are to be glorious standing in awe of His Majestty’s care for us His people. We are to be patient in this world both internally in our being and externally as we observe and interpret the works of God in our life both in the past and present. The basis of this confidence comes from our resting in the power of God knowing that all things are so in the hand of God and that they have not in the past, or now, or in the future move without His divine and holy will.. Please take note of the supporting Scripture:
Matthew 10:29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.
Proverbs 16:33 The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD.
Romans 5:3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
James 1:3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
Psalms 39:9 I was dumb, I opened not my mouth; because thou didst it.
Job 1:21- 22 And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.
2. The Guilty Past Category - This is the past wherein we have sinned either against God, a person or both.
The first thing to consider here is this – Have you confessed your sin to God? If it has not then your responsibility is to immediately:
Why have you been haunted by this sinful guilty past? Answer: Simply due to the fact that you have not dealt with your guilt. Even in situations where the another person also sinned (or perhaps even sinned first), you must deal with your guilt in the matter.
First, God’s people need to acknowledge is that God is holy. God will not “hold him guiltless” who does wrong for the wrongdoer is without excuse. (Ex. 20:7; Rom 1:20; 2:1; 2:14; 3:9-12,19,23)
Second, God’s people are to see guilt that comes from breaking the law of God as a friend since as a schoolmaster, the law calls out to us to bring us to Christ and His forgiveness. (Gal 3:24; Rom. 5:8)
Third, assume the guilt. Do not run and hide, make excuses, lie, etc. Agree with God that what you have done is against Him and his word. To continue to seek to cover the sin and wrongdoing leads to further problems. It can lead to broken relationships, distorted living, Church discipline, depression, and all the problems which that causes. Those that assume the guilt and confess find peace, forgiveness and mercy. (Prov. 28:13; 51:4; 1 Jn 1:7-9).
Fourth, confess to the appropriate people. “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” (James 5:16) Now this is so important notice what our Lord said about it in relation to worship: “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. Agree with thine adversary quickly, while thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.” (Matt. 5:23-26)
Now if the sin was public your need to confess not only to any immediate people you wronged but also you must make public confession. Be careful to take note that confession needs only be made as far as the extent of the wrong doing and its known affects. As I have explained this to my children, think of an umbrella and if the people were not under the umbrella of wrongdoing then they don’t need to hear a confession. My wife and I drilled this principle into our kids as we taught them to deal with sin, guilt, confession and forgiveness in our family and in their lives.
Fifth, make any needed restitution. I remember one instance when a child twelve years old stole some Christmas gifts from a neighbor. Asked what to do the father correctly directed the child to confess and seek forgiveness. This was swiftly done. The child then made restitution by working for the family in order to work with theor hands to better the life of the family and to make restitution. Needless to say the child learned a valuable lesson about stealing, the blessings of forgiveness and the principle of making restitution in order to help their fellow man. We see Zaccheus as an example of a person following the law of God in making restitution. And Paul wrote to the Church of Ephesus acknowledging that believers are to practice restitution: “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.” (Eph. 4:28)
Sixth, change your life in two areas: 1. your thinking and 2. your behavior.
Think differently. You do not have to “beat your breast” nor crawl across pointed sharp gravels on your knees nor walk on hot embers. Therefore you do not have to live with guilty feelings. You have repented and done the works of repentance therefore you are forgiven. Now think forgiven! Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom. 6:11) And then “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Cor. 6: 9-11) You therefore can renew you mind living in the presence of the God of peace (Phil 4; Rom 12).
Change your behavior (put off / put on) in order that you do not perform the wrong doing. Now this takes practice but it can be done. Notice that the Answer to change is not to stop doing something but it is to replace it with good and godly living. This is the put off/ put on principle in Gods word that you need to grasp! Paul taught the Ephesians about this in the fourth chapter of his letter to them. Eph 4:22-24 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; (23) And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; (24) And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. He gives a clear example of this in the same contextual passage in several areas:
Communication – vs. 24 – 25, 29, 31-32 : And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Wherefore putting away (put off) lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another. … Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. …. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.Anger - vs 26 -27; 31: Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: (27) Neither give place to the devil. ……. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice
Stealing – vs. 28 - Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
So whatever you did wrong the Bible has the sufficient answer to it so that you may put off the sin and put on God’s way of living in order to live holy and glorify God in your life.
You never need to sin to “get ahead”, “one up”, “get things done”,
“save money”, “earn money”, “keep things from the wife and / or kids”,
“feel better or be better than another person” !
Seventh, remember what we learned above - God has decreed all thibngs that some to pass so that all (not many or some but all) things come from the fatherly hand of a soverign God and that there is no chance or happenstance that brings anything into your life. You never need to sin to “get ahead”, “one up”, “get things done”, “save money”, “earn money”, “keep things from the wife and / or kids”, “feel better or be better than another person”!
Not only this but the Lord is always near to you in all of lifew and in all circumstances. (Phil 4) Being that this is so you can pray specifically about situations as they arise, and you need not sin for the Lord has given His Word to funish us with the proper responses and for all good action.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phi 4:4-7)
Now that you have confessed and learned about God you can rrejoice in God's providential care, in his forgiveness (Ps. 40:1-3) and worship the Lord our Savior. Make it a point to go to Sunday School and or theology class and continue to grow in your understanding of the character of God. No longer wallow in your sin (Phil. 3:13, Ps.103:12) for it has been forgiven and is not remembered by God. .
C. Relating To Your Past –
Your past can be either a help or a hindrance as has been fully laid out and understood from the previous comments above.
1. .The key to handling the past Biblically is twofold.
A) - The Christian must seek to derive maximum benefit from that part of the past which God can use to help him or her to grow. In doing seeking to derive maximum benefit from that part in order that God use it to help you grow you will need to learn fundamental lessons about:
4) God’s World
B) - he or she must do everything possible to sever all ties to the past that will hinder their sanctification or growth in the faith and its practice.
1) If our past is due to sinful behavior and responses the we Christians must do everything to sever all ties to the past that will hinder sanctification. Sometimes this calls for radical change. Notice how radical Jesus was about this:
“If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.” (Mat 5:29-30)
This learning is to be done whether your past is from a guilty past or a non guilty past category.
Also remember that relating to and working through issues of the past include these necessary steps - a. Confess any non confessed sin in order to live in a renewed and fresh relationship before our holy God and before men. b.Ensure that you have made any necessary restitution so that you never have to revisit these past issues again. c. Do away with sinful bitterness and anger so that you do not continue to have the past creepinto your thinking. Note: If you need to know how to handle anger and bitterness for positive resolution to lifes problems that spark anger see the blog at http://pilgrimchristian.blogspot.com/2006/05/being-angry-for-problem-resolution.html titled “Being Angry for Problem Resolution”.
III. Know Your Mind Is Renewed Concerning Your Past
After all the reading from above is done I do hope that you understand your past in a much better manner since it truly can be viewed from God’s perspective. Not only that but I hope you now know that whatever God brings into your life the Holy Spirit gives you the power to take the proper Christian , biblical, action and that you do not need to sin. Other things in your life change and these manifest (let you know) that you now see and understand your past. These include:
A. You will worship and praise God for who He is and how he brings all things to pass for His glory and yours and the Church’s good
The Scripture doctrine of God’s providence is so plain. Here is a summary of Scripture proof, showing that all events have a divinely appointed place and purpose.
God's providential control extends over all:
(a) Nature or the physical world.
"Jehovah doeth His will in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet," Nahum 1:3. "Only in the land of Goshen where the children of Israel were, there was no hail," Exodus 9:26. "He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and the to men to be only the result of natural causes; yet Joseph could say, "The thing is established of God, and God will shortly bring it to pass." Genesis 41: 32.
"And I also have withholden the rain from you, when there were yet three months before the harvest; and I caused it to rain upon one city, and caused it not to rain upon another city," Amos 4:7.
"He gave you from heaven rains and fruitful seasons, filling your heart with food and gladness," Acts 14:17.
"Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?" Isaiah 40:12.
(b) The animal creation.
"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny and not one of them shall fall to the ground without your Father," Matthew 10:29.
"Behold the birds of the heavens, that they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; and your heavenly Father feedeth them,"Matthew 6:26.
"My God hath sent His angel and hath shut the lions' months, that they have not hurt me," Daniel 6:22.
"The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God," Psalm 104:21.
"Thus God hath taken away the cattle of your father (Laban) and given them to me" (Jacob),
(Nebuchadnezzar's humiliation was) "to the intent that the living may know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will, and setteth up
over it the lowest of men," Daniel 4:17.
"Behold, the nations are as a drop in the bucket, and are accounted as the small dust of the balance; behold, He taketh up the isles as a very little thing," Isaiah 40:15.
"Let them say among the nations, Jehovah reigneth," 1 Chronicles 16:31.
"For God Is the King of all the earth," Psalm 47:7.
"He changeth the times and the seasons; He removeth kings, and setteth up kings," Daniel 2:21.
"Jehovah bringeth the counsel of the nations to naught; He maketh the thoughts of the people to be of none effect," Psalm 33:10. "And Jehovah gave them rest round about .... Jehovah delivered all their enemies into their hands," Joshua 21:44.
"And the children of Israel did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah; and Jehovah delivered them into the hands of Midian seven years," Judges 6:1. 'Shall evil befall a city, and Jehovah hath not done it?" Amos 3:6.
"For, lo, I raise up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, that march through
the breadth of the earth, to possess dwelling places that are not theirs," Habakkuk 1:6.
(d) Individual men.
"The king's heart is in the hand of Jehovah as the watercourses; He turneth it whithersoever He will," Proverbs 21:1.
"A man's goings are established of Jehovah," Psalm 37:23.
"A man's heart deviseth his way, but the Lord directeth his steps," Proverbs 16:9.
"For we ought to say, if the Lord will, we shall both live, and do this or that," James 4:15. "Of Him, and through Him, and unto Him are all things," Romans 11:36.
"Who maketh thee to differ? And what hast thou that thou didst not receive?" 1 Corinthians 4:7.
"The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him, And delivereth them," Psalm 34:7.
"If it be so our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace; and He will deliver us out of thy hand,O king," Daniel 3:17.
"Jehovah is on my side; I shall not fear; What can man do unto me?" Psalm 118:6.
“But now, O Jehovah, thou art our Father; we are the clay and thou our potter; and we are the work of thy hands," Isaiah 64:8.
"And the hand of our God was upon us, and He delivered us (the returning exiles) from the hand of the enemy and the lier-in-wait by the way," Ezra 8:31.
"And God brought their counsel to naught," Nehemiah 4:15.
"But against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog move his tongue, against man or bent; that ye way know how Jehovah doth make a distinction between the Egyptians and Israel," Exodus 11:7.
"And the Lord said unto Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak and hold not thy peace; for I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to harm thee," Acts 18:9.
(e) The free acts of men.
"It is God who worketh in you both to will and to work, for His good pleasure," Philippians 2:13.
"And Jehovah gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have what they asked." Exodus 12:36.
"And the king (of Persia, Artaxerxes granted him (Ezra) all his request, according to the hand of Jehovah his God upon him," Ezra 7:6.
"For Jehovah had made them joyful, and had turned the heart of the king of Assyria unto them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God" (rebuilding the temple), Ezra 6:22.
"And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep mine ordinances, and do them," Ezekiel 36:27.
(f) The sinful acts of men.
"For of a truth in this city against thy holy servant Jesus, whom thou didst anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, and the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together, to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel foreordained to come to pass," Acts 4:27, 28.
"Jesus answered him (Pilate), Thou wouldst have no power against me, except it were given thee from above," John 19:11.
(David, rebuking Abishai, in regard to Shimei) "Because he curseth, and Jehovah hath said, Curse David.... Let him alone, and let him curse; for Jehovah bath bidden him" II Sam. 16:10,
"Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee; and the residue of wrath shalt thou gird upon thee" (or restrain), Ps. 76:10.
"And I, behold I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians and they shall go in (the Red Sea) after them; and I will get me honor upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, and upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen," Ex. 14:17.
(g) To the fortuitous events or "chance happenings.
Proverbs 16:33: The lot is cast Into the lap; But the whole disposing thereof Is of Jehovah.
Jonah 1:7: So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah.
Acts 1:24, 26: And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, who knowest the hearts of all men, show of these two the one whom thou has chosen . . . And they cast lots for them; and the lot fell on Matthias.
Job 36:32: He covereth His hands with the lightning, And giveth it a charge that it strike the
1 Kings 22:28, 34: And Micaiah said, If thou (Ahab) return at all in peace, Jehovah hath not
spoken by me . . . And a certain man drew his bow at a venture, and smote the king of Israel between the joints of the armor.
Job 5:6: For affliction cometh not forth from the dust; Neither doth trouble spring out of the
Mark 14:30: And Jesus said unto him (Peter), Verily I say unto thee, that thou, today, even this night. before the cock crow twice shall deny me thrice.
(Cp. Genesis 37:28 and 45:5; Cp. 1 Samuel 9:15,16 and 9:5-10.)
B. You will have an increased sense of gratitude and praise in the grace of God. You will see yourself in reality. Being a sinner, you will have a renewed sense and poise not to sin in the future as may have been done in the past.
In 1 Timothy 1:12-17 Paul recalls his past sin, but then he praises God for his marvelous grace. Paul does not forget or avoid his past but freely admits he was a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a violent person. In this he does not dwell on these facts but proclaims God’s grace of Jesus' saving work and on the Father’s mercy in sending such a wonderful Savior. In reality Paul lets his past highlight God's grace. Properly understood redemptively our evil and sin magnifies God's mercy.
“I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” (1Ti 1:12-17)
Therefore let your past memories prompt you to a higher view of God's grace, energizing you to praise while solidifying your Christian faith and confidence.
C. You will have a deeper sense of repentance if you do find yourself falling into a sinful action.
Properly and honestly facing the horribleness and ugliness of past sins and failures will cause you to have a deepening sense of repentance and will cause you to seek reconciliation and make proper restitution with others you have sinned against. This will also effect a consciousness of sins sensitizing you to new temptations in the pasts problematic areas. This will deter you from repeating the sin or sins. (Prov. 26:11).
D . A broader sense, concern and abilities put in action to be able to help others through instruction and example in life.
There is no greater way to know that the past is dealt with than to be transformed is such a way that we are willing to instruct others in the right way to live in the Christian life and faith. WE see this great biblical example in the great confessional and repentant Psalm 51 (fifty-one).
Psalm Title: (Psa 51:1) To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.
Confession of Needing God’s Mercy: Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. (Psa 51:2) Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!
Confession of Sin: (Psa 51:3) For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
(Psa 51:4) Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. (Psa 51:5) Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. (Psa 51:6) Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
A Cry for Cleansing and Forgiveness: (Psa 51:7) Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. (Psa 51:8) Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. (Psa 51:9) Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. (Psa 51:10) Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
Restoration Needs Confessed: (Psa 51:11) Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. (Psa 51:12) Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
Repentance and Confession Confirmed: (Psa 51:13) Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. (Psa 51:14) Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness. (Psa 51:15) O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.
God’s Acceptable Sacrifices: (Psa 51:16) For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. (Psa 51:17) The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (Psa 51:18) Do good to Zion in your good pleasure; build up the walls of Jerusalem; (Psa 51:19) then will you delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on your altar.
When God helps you to interpret your past sins from a gospel perspective, your bad memories can broaden your effectiveness in ministering to others.
Paul saw his life as a pattern for what God will do for others. God's forgiveness of his sins breeds hope for Paul's hearers.
What effect does this have on ministering to others?
1. You can understand their problem, relate to failure and you know it's potentially haunting shame.
2. Furthermore, you can offer hope by giving you life as an example of God's hope at work. (2 Cor. 1:3-4).
You may not be able to prevent sinful memories from arising. Painful thoughts might still intrude without invitation. Yet you don't need to erase them or escape them. They do not have to destroy you. Birds of guilt may land on your head but they need not nest there. Your Redeemer is bigger than your past.
In Christ, your past can be handled understood and redeemed. You can learn to reinterpret your past biblically. As 1 Timothy 1 teaches, a gospel-centered understanding of your past sin deepens your repentance, heightens your gratitude for God's saving grace, and broadens your effectiveness in helping others with wisdom and compassion.
May God redeem your past memories so that your worship might be eeper, higher, and broader, for His glory and your good.