Our Past Is Not Our Future
“Forget what happened in the past, and do not dwell on events from long ago. I am going to do something new. It is already happening. Don’t you recognize it?” Isaiah 43:18-19 (GW)
They terrified her.
Yes, she was guilty. Yes, she had sinned and been caught in the act of adultery. The mob of angry, self-righteous religious leaders had dragged her from her house and into the temple courtyard to face judgment and stoning.
Seated before her was the man everyone was speaking of – the rabbi from Galilee who taught with authority and cured the sick. Her accusers had brought her before this man to determine her fate.
What would he choose?
Gazing at the incensed group of men, the rabbi said the one among them who was without sin should cast the first stone and then he began writing in the sand. One by one, the men dropped their stones and walked away, leaving the rabbi and the adulterous woman alone.
When he asked where the men were who had condemned her, she replied no one was there. “Then neither do I condemn you,” he declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
We’re all familiar with this encounter from John 8. In 11 short verses, Jesus shows the incomprehensible beauty of God’s forgiveness and His ability through faith and salvation to erase our sins, letting us start anew. To delete the stains of our past and open the door to a new future.
We All Have Pasts
We all have pasts. Each of us has made mistakes – mistakes that often continue defining us long after we made them. Mistakes secretly lingering in our hearts and our minds, never allowing us to live without their constant burden.
And in our ears, we hear the whispers of the Great Deceiver ever seeking to remind us how broken we are, how we can never change, how we will never be forgiven. Sadly, we sometimes even hear these whispers from brothers and sisters in the church.
These are lies. All lies. Lies designed to drive us away from the promise of a new life in Christ’s forgiveness.
The central message of the New Testament, the essential saving truth of the New Covenant established at the Last Supper, is that through the sacrifice and resurrection of Christ Jesus, there is no longer any condemnation for those who accept him. This is the truth Jesus spoke of when he proclaimed, “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:32)
When we accept this truth and reject the lies of a world endlessly condemning us for our past transgressions and mistakes, we open our hearts to hear a fresh voice. A voice from a loving God saying, “Remember you are forgiven. Remember you have been set free. Remember who you are in Me.”
Paul wrote to the church in Corinth that anyone belonging to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone, and new life has begun. (2 Corinthians 5:17) This means yesterday has no hold over us, our past no longer defines who we are. We can press delete on our old lives!
Of course, deleting the mistakes of our past doesn’t mean forgetting them, or that we can’t learn from them. Getting past the pain of our experiences doesn’t mean the pain never happened – it did, and in many ways, those mistakes and pain have shaped who we have become.
An Astounding Truth
The astounding truth is that by “deleting” our past, we’re actually deleting the bondage it held over us. God tells us to leave the past in the past and run toward our future in Christ (Philippians 3:13-14). The price paid by Jesus at Calvary means we are no longer the sum of our mistakes. Instead, we can keep our eyes forward on the future.
2021 has been a year filled with moments we would all love to forget. Some might even wish we could press “delete” on the entire year! But there is Good News in the midst of pain and regret. God has a purpose for each of us on the other side of yesterday’s mistakes. Every morning we wake up, every day we still draw breath, God is telling us He has more in store for us.
Yet we can never fully embrace all God has designed for our lives if we cling to yesterday.
Each of us can make the choice – today, right now – to accept Christ into our hearts and hit the delete button on our past. We can choose not to allow yesterday to control our thoughts and actions. We can choose to let God’s power remove condemnation and regret. We can choose to live free and move forward.
What will you choose?
May God always guide your path.