“We are all products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it,” said Pastor Rick Warren, best-selling author of The Purpose-Driven Life. When we become Christians, wouldn’t it be great if God erased the memory of our past mistakes? I used to think if ONLY God would delete the hard drive of my unhappy memories, that would be a huge relief. What I didn’t know was that it was my choice whether or not to park in my past or allow God to help me move onward into maturity in Christ.
As a juvenile drug abuser, my choice to receive Jesus as my Savior was an amazing day. I remember it well. “Love covers a multitude of sins,” the words rang in my ears, I couldn’t get the five-word phrase off my mind. At age 17, already an alcoholic and drug addict, I was working at a summer camp in Lake Tahoe. “Love covers a multitude of sins,” the camp staff said when I threw fits over doing my chores or smoked cigarettes and dope. Though raised in church, I had never been around Christians like these, they didn’t tell me to change anything about my appearance, attitudes, or addictions. These believers showed me what love looks like.
As a youngster in Sunday school, I’d learned Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” I began to believe God’s love could cover my drug and alcohol addictions, my lying and stealing, my promiscuity and even my drug dealing. I didn’t have to clean up my act before coming to God; He loved me passionately just the way I was. After two weeks of experiencing how “Love covers a multitude of sins,” I embraced it. Submitting to the overwhelming love of God, I allowed His abundant love to cover my multitude of sins.
I accepted Jesus as my Savior that day. However, it took over two decades for me to understand how to allow Him to be Lord. I wasn’t aware of my identity, my position, or my authority in Christ. Have you wondered why it’s so difficult to break free of unhealthy or undesired habits? Here’s why: when we’re adopted into the family of God, our past emotions, memories, or mistakes are not erased from our mind. We keep these things inside, but I have good news, we can learn how to live life apart from them. We must reverse our former flesh patterns and learn how to depend on the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Here are a few suggestions:
- Close Doors of the Enemy Through Declaring in Prayer: Ask God to show you what to do. As God brings these things to mind, you can pray something like this from your heart, “Dear Heavenly Father, I confess any part I had in (fill in the blank). I choose to turn away from this act. I refuse to follow Satan and all his works and ways. In Jesus’ name, amen.”
Here’s a reminder from Ephesians 1:19-21 (NLT) about God’s power available to you: “I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come.”
- Declare the Truth, Submit to God and Resist the Devil: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:1-2).
You can pray something like this from your heart, “Heavenly Father, thank You for revealing Your truth to me. I choose to submit to You, God, I declare that God is for me, not against me. I choose to seek God’s ways for my life. I resist the devil’s temptations or suggestions to take the easy way out. In Jesus’ name, amen.” Here’s another reminder of how this works from James 4:7, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
- Take Every Thought Captive by Asking God to Fill Your Mind with Truth: You can be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Think of your mind as being like an airport and you are the air traffic controller. A lot of thoughts ask permission to land. But you have complete control over which will land, and which will be turned away. You can pray a prayer from your heart like this:
“Dear Heavenly Father, I choose to keep my mind set on Your truth, to take every thought captive and make it please You. I can’t do this on my own, so I choose to keep my mind on Your Word. In Jesus’ name, amen.”
It helps to remember; we are in a battle between truth and lies. Every shameful, guilt-filled, or traumatic memory can become a stronghold. A stronghold is a habit or flesh-pattern that has a “strong hold on you” and is a lie that has made a rut in our mind and emotions. The key to demolishing it is to uncover the lie behind it and then replace the lie with the truth. “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Choosing not to park in our past or to be set free from the prison of our past can happen quickly or maybe it will be a step-by-step process, taking time, depending on what God wants to teach us. God is more concerned with our character than our comfort. We have a choice. Do you want a deeper level of spiritual victory? Do you want a closer relationship with God? Do you desire an increase in ministry impact? Instead of parking in your past, why not ask God for deliverance, walk in His ways, and proclaim His truth? Moving ahead from our past begins with a desire, and through prayer, inviting God into the process. With the Holy Spirit’s help, you can step into the future God has promised for you. Here’s a bit of motivating hope from Philippians 3:12-14.
“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12 -14).
This blog first appeared in Lead Like Jesus on 9/28/2021