Ghosts of the Past

“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 3:13-14

We all have ghosts that haunt us from time to time. Things we’ve done in our past that bring feelings of shame, guilt, or embarrassment. Things that, if they were known about us, could destroy relationships and ruin reputations, especially if we’ve invested time and effort to overcome them and make ourselves into completely different people. We fear those ghosts because we think they would make our friends and loved ones hate us and turn us into social pariahs.

Satan loves those ghosts, and he loves to trot them out and haunt us with them. In my case, he dresses them up in disguise and sends them to haunt my dreams. Sometimes, they may insert themselves into a moment of idle thought. His intent is to keep me enslaved to the thought: “I will never be good enough.” When they come around, I simply remember I don’t live there anymore.

Satan isn’t called the Accuser for nothing. If he can get you to dwell on your mistakes and failures, he can keep you hopeless that your life could ever change or improve. He wants us to believe that we are irretrievably lost and broken. He wants us to believe that God could never love us because we’re such a vile mess, that our failures are final and fatal.

It’s a lie, told by the Father of Lies. You are God’s own creation, and He made you unique. Unless you have an identical twin, there has never been nor will there ever be another just exactly like you. Dwell on that for a moment. We are God’s handiwork, but because of the curse of sin we are a broken mess. The reality is, we never will be good enough in and of ourselves to be acceptable to God. Even at our best we are beggars in filthy rags.

But here’s the good news. We don’t have to stay that way. God, knowing Satan would stir rebellion in mankind’s heart, had a plan in place before the dawn of creation. I believe it was Max Lucado that wrote, “When Eve took a bite of the forbidden fruit, a cross appeared on the horizon.” God sent Jesus to earth with one mission: to become the perfect sacrifice that could put the power of sin to death for good. As he approached that moment, Jesus showed us the love and power of God, and taught us what it meant to love God and love your neighbor. It’s because of Jesus’ death and resurrection that we have hope of being “good enough”. Not because of anything we’ve done, but what Jesus has done for us.

When we choose to follow Jesus, accept His gift of redemption, and put to death our old self of sin through baptism, we no longer have to live with our ghosts. All of our sins, shame, and guilt are buried with the corpse of what we once were. In Jeremiah 31:31-34, God told the nation of Israel, “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” (emphasis mine)

When Jesus died on the cross, the new covenant was established with His blood, and it was open to anyone who would accept it, not only the Israelites. It is by that blood that we are made righteous. If we are in Jesus Christ, when God looks at us, Jesus is who he sees. If you were to try and remind Him of all your sins and failures, He wouldn’t remember them because Jesus took care of that for us. And if God doesn’t remember them, why do we? Let’s be done with the past; if we are in Christ, we don’t live there anymore.

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