A local youth pastor was at the youth Bible study I sponsor on campus every Tuesday after school and he said something pretty profound.
“The devil is always wanting to bring up your past … he wants to take you back and hold you there.”
OK. I confess. That is pretty simple on the surface, but the more you think about it the deeper it gets.
The devil uses the past in two different ways:
- Regret: he takes us back to how we blew it and makes us relive it time and again to make sure guilt washes over us in an effort to cripple and restrict us from moving forward.
- Pleasure: he reminds us of how good something was so that it cripples and restricts us from moving forward as well.
Now I have had my share of regrets, let me tell you. But the biggest problem I have had was that I was hemmed in by past pleasure without even realizing it. Until last Tuesday, that was.
What kind of pleasure am I talking about?
One type is remembering the “good old days.” That trap is the awesome comfort of a soft plush couch that, once you are on it, you just cannot find the strength to get up again. We’ve all been there, haven’t we? The good old days are often so good that nothing can measure up to them. Sometimes, due to loss, they can never be recovered or duplicated, so they are cherished and tightly held. Since nothing is better, why even try anything?
But another type of pleasure from the past is old sin.
If you are like me, there are some sins from my younger (read into that, stupid) days that I will never repeat… I know better now. Buuuut the devil will bring back the temptation of that sin… not the temptation to commit it (he’s pretty smart, you know)… no, he’ll just bring back the temptation to relive it in your memory. After all, that is a secret safe place, right?
“And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” — Hebrews 4:13 (NASB)
OK, maybe not.
As I dealt with this over the last week, the Holy Spirit kept bringing up a familiar thought:
“But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” — Matthew 19:14
The key to defeating past sin of the memory kind was staring me in the face. Become a child again!
The sins holding me back were not committed by “childhood me” … it was “teenage me’s” fault.
As a child, I had a loving father who provided for all of my needs and steered me down the right path. I wanted for nothing and reveled in the peace of our home and community.
“Teenage me” rebelled against my father and sought his own way (stupidly) which led to sin, deceit, and almost every sin imaginable.
This is why Jesus told Nicodemus, “You must be born again.” (John 3:7)
We are not capable of becoming innocent again outside of the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit. That is what Jesus was referring to. There must be repentance and confession.
There must be conviction, repentance, and confession to our Lord. Only His blood can cleanse and save. Only He can purge the memory banks. Through faith in His life, death, and resurrection, we have the power to be born again and renewed to childhood innocence.
“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,” — John 1:12
The way to defeat the past is to submit to God as a child … repent of rebellion … accept His guidance and discipline … and then embrace the parentage of the One who knows us best … the One who will never pass away … the only One capable of bringing us to brighter tomorrows.