Every person has a past, Christians are no different. Listen to testimonies from Christians and you’ll soon find out that some have a very sketchy and difficult past, whilst others have a more ‘normal’ past pre-Christ. Regardless of what you have done in life, regardless of what sins you have committed, every Christian must know this; you are not defined by your past!
Sure, the majority of people still hear their past ringing in their minds. Many people continue to live with regret of sins committed and everything you can think that the flesh desires enjoyed. But know this, as a Christian, your identity is not bound up in the actions that lay behind you. Your identity is bound up with the man who was nailed to a cross and who hangs there now more!
One thing to recognise is that we will all continue to suffer the consequences of our sins. For some that may mean physical consequences. For others that may mean that they continue to carry scars of pains gone by. For some it might mean that for the rest of their lives they will feel the effects of certain things that they did. But the thing to remember is that those things do not define you. Do not listen to the lies of the evil one who wants to pull your eyes from the glorious truths of the gospel. Do not let your past sins distract you from your present reality; that you are a new creation in Jesus and that you now live for the glory of God.
There will be those around you, friends from a former life, who will want to pul you back to sin. People will want to see the ‘old you’ again, but remember Colossians 3:1-17, the things you have taken off must be replaced by Christ and Christlikeness. Stand firm in your fight against sin and do not listen to the barks of a defeated foe who cries guilty. Instead, stand firm in the victorious triumph of Christ and those life giving words that turn your heart to praise “It is finished” (John 19:30). Those words were the end of your judgment and the beginning of new life.
There will be times when you feel alone, discouraged and abandoned. There will be times when you’re reminded of your past and the things you did but here are a two things I would like you to remember my dear brother and sister…
- Your past does not define you.
You re a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). Your are adopted into the family of God through the redeeming work of Jesus Christ (Galatians 4:1-7). You have been justified by the blood of Jesus (Romans 5:9). What does that mean? It means, my dear friends, that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).
Have you sinned? Yes, you have. Have you rejected God and His ways in the past that have made you a subject of His wrath? Yes, you have. Are you completely forgiven through the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross and forgiven completely for your sins? Absolutely!
You may think that you don’t deserve this, you may think that this is too good to be true, but let me assure you that this is the greatest truth that you’ll ever hear! This means that you are completely forgiven of your past sins and you are brought into a wonderful union with Christ. As a Christian, your past does not define who you are.
When people come to drag you back you need to remember this truth. You need to remember that you are not who you once were and instead stand for Jesus. Instead of sin, choose sanctification. Instead of sin, choose Jesus. When people call you back to an old way of living, remember that you are called to be holy and to follow Christ. You are no longer who you used to be. You are a son, or a daughter, of the Living God.
- You are free through Christ.
There will times when you are reminded of your past, and of your previous life, and you must take that to the cross. There will be times when you are reminded of the shame and you must take that to the cross. That is not a phrase I use lightly, nor is it an escape clause. ‘Taking it to the cross’ means you recognise your weakness and in utter dependance on the Lord you fall at the foot of the cross and plead for strength to endure.
You are a forgiven person, but the effects and consequences of your sin remain. You are called to be holy because God is holy. You are called to deny self and live for Christ. you are only able to do that through the enabling of the Holy Spirit who strengthens you. But the foundation of this process of sanctification must be that you recognise that you are free in Christ. Judgment has no hold over you. Sin has no power over you. Death has no claim on your life, but you have been raised with Christ and are free!
Friends Jesus has forgiven you. Yes, the consequences of your sin remain, the lies of satan continue, but the reality is that we serve a conquering Saviour who has won! We serve a King who has conquered! We serve a Lord who reigns! You are not defined by your past, you are defined by Christ and Christ alone!