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How do we deal with our past?

 Unless you were born yesterday, you have a past. We’ve all made mistakes. The Bible is clear than no one is perfect. Romans 3:10-12 says, “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”

Many of us are carrying around our past like a sack full of rocks. And each rock is symbolic of a mistake we made in the past: divorce, an affair, premarital sex, alcohol abuse, an abortion, etc. The list could go on. Some of our sacks are heavier than others. We are carrying the sack full of our past mistakes, and it is weighing us down. Our past is keeping us from enjoying the abundant life that God has called us to live.

How do we deal with our past? How do we lay down our burdens? Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28).” God promises forgiveness of sins (1 John 1:9), and that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). Jesus did not come to condemn the world but to save the world (John 3:17). When we put our faith in Jesus Christ, he forgives us of ALL our sins.

If the Bible is clear that Jesus forgives us of all our sins, why do we still carry around our heavy burdens? Well, we do not truly understand God’s forgiveness. There are two common misconceptions about God’s forgiveness. First, many people think they are “too sinful”. They will say, “Pastor, you do not know what I have done.” It does not matter how great your sins. God’s grace is greater. Isaiah 43:25 says, “I, even, I am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” God blots our sins from the record. He wipes our slate clean, and he chooses to remember our sins no more.

A second misconception of God’s forgiveness is that we have to “get our lives cleaned up first”. “Pastor, I need to cut back on my drinking.” “I need to quit cussing.” “I need to get my family in church.” ‘I need to start reading the good book”. Many people think they have to get their lives cleaned up before they can ask God for forgiveness. Here’s the truth, we cannot clean ourselves up. Only God can clean us up. If our bodies were covered in mud, we wouldn’t clean ourselves up, then get in the shower. We would get in the shower in order to clean ourselves up. We don’t clean ourselves up spiritually, and then ask God to forgive us. No, we get in the shower of God’s grace, love and forgiveness and allow Him to clean us up.

The Bible is full of word pictures. Two of my favorites explain God’s forgiveness. The first is “white as snow”. Isaiah 1:18 says, “Come now, let us argue this out,” says the LORD. “No matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can remove it. I can make you as clean as freshly fallen snow. Even if you are stained as red as crimson, I can make you as white as wool.” Some of our sins are stained deep into our hearts and souls. We have been carrying them around for years. They are dark, deep and painful. And God says, no matter how deep the stain, I can remove it. I can clean you as white as freshly fallen snow.

A second picture of God’s forgiveness is “hurled into the sea”. Micah 7:19 says, “You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.” When we put our faith in Jesus and ask God to forgive us, he hurls our sins into the depths of the sea to be lost forever. If Jesus has hurled our sins to the bottom of the sea, why are we carrying them around? If Jesus has lost them forever, why can’t we let them go? If you are a Christian, God has forgiven you. You need to accept his forgiveness and lay your heavy burdens at the foot of the cross.

Jonathan Howes has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Finance from Jacksonville State University and a Master in Divinity Degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the lead pastor for Graystone Church. Locations include the Ozora Campus: 1551 Ozora Road Loganville, GA 30052, the Walton Campus: 723 N Broad St Monroe, GA 30655 and the Oconee Campus: 1275 Lenru Road Bogart, GA 30622.
Phone: (770) 466-3159
Twitter: @JohnnyHowes