Thursday, January 01, 2009

I Can't Overcome the Past

by Gardner Hall
www.cvillechurch.com

A very popular excuse for lack of repentance

Why is this one of Satan's favorite lies?

"I have felt these tendencies since I was a child," declare some homosexuals. "I could never be anything different."

"Everyone in my family has a hot temper," says a divisive brother. "That's just the way I am."
With similar statements, we excuse our lack of repentance for vices and bad attitudes, presenting ourselves as helpless victims of past experiences. In doing so, we disregard the regenerating power of the gospel to make us new creatures in Christ's image.

My Past May Leave Me With Obstacles and Thorns

The scriptures acknowledge that sin we have committed as well as that committed against us leaves scars, pain and difficult obstacles. Old Testament characters like Leah, Jephtah, Tamar and Hosea must have struggled mightily to overcome rejection and abuse. Paul's persecution of others left him in such deep anguish that he referred to himself as "chief of sinners." (I Timothy 1:15)

Though we are put off by the growing number of whiners and "victims," Christians must not overreact to such by becoming cynical and harsh towards those who are suffering. Impatiently telling those with spiritual wounds to "fess up" or "snap out of it," is not following Christ's teaching or example. (Luke 6:36; James 2:13, etc.) Such severe and unfeeling responses are like those of Job's "friends" and are prevalent in the cults of control like the Boston Movement. Firmness in proclaiming the need for repentance or perseverance, should not be incompatible with gentleness and love.

All Can Be Controlled and Overcome

Though my past can leave me scarred, the good news is that through Christ's death, all can be forgiven. Through His sanctifying Word, old spiritual bugaboos can be controlled and eventually overcome. The New Testament is filled with references to the power of the gospel to change lives.

· The gospel is the "power of God unto salvation" (Rom. 1:16)

· "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power..." (2 Tim. 1:7)

· Paul prayed to Him "who is able to do abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us." (Eph. 3:20)

· Paul was confident that the Colossians would be "strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power." (Col. 1:11)

New Testament examples abound of those who overcame sinful pasts to become pure and powerful servants of Jesus.

· The apostle Paul was cleansed and forgiven for participating in the persecution and death of faithful Christians. Murderers of Christians can overcome their past through the grace of God!

· The Thessalonians "turned to God from idols." (I Thess. 1:9) Pagan idol worshippers can overcome their past!

· Peter overcame his impulsiveness to be a pillar among God's people. Those who are impulsive can overcome their past.

· Some of the Corinthians had been "fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, sodomites, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers and extortioners" but they were washed, sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord. (I Cor. 6:9-11) Homosexuals, fornicators, drug addicts (drunkards) and others entangled in ungodly lifestyles can overcome their past!
Modern Examples

The gospel of Christ is still powerful today to free from the past those who are willing to turn to the Him. The lives of close friends illustrate the point:

"Jane" (not her real name) never knew who her father was. Her mother chased her out of the house telling her that she didn't want her around. Often Jane sorted through garbage to find something to eat. Today Jane is a happy, faithful Christian and a dear friend who has blessed hundreds of people.

Matt was a faithful member of a congregation here in the Northeast who moved to another state. Several years ago he wrote an article in "Sentry Magazine," confessing homosexual tendencies that came from a troubled childhood, but relating at the same time about learning to control them by applying Biblical principles in his life.

Other close friends have learned to deal with alcoholism, religious error, uncontrollable tempers, despair from death of loved ones and every imaginable blow that Satan could deliver. Their purity and hope in spite of grievous spiritual wounds, both self inflicted and those delivered by others, reassure us that the gospel is still powerful to free from the past today just as it was in the first century!

With God's grace and power along with our genuine repentance and determination to take responsibility for our lives, even the most vile impulses can be controlled and eventually overcome. The deepest and most painful wounds can begin to heal. The idea that our past cannot be dealt with, is a lie of Satan, designed to keep us enchained to him. All things can become new in Christ and we can be white and pure as snow through Him. Never forget, there's soul cleansing power in the blood of the Lamb!


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