Holly’s past kept haunting her; the memories of the guys and the partying just didn’t go away. All the times she’d gone too far seemed to be imprinted on her brain. She knew she was different now because the Lord had changed her, but the regrets of the past still haunted.
Leslie had an abortion 5 years ago and a day doesn’t go by without her thinking about it, leaving her in tears every year on the anniversary. She knows the Lord says He forgives her and loves her but the shame and guilt is just too much. Leslie knows that God could never truly forgive her and He could never use her for His will after what she did.
No matter how much Miranda had changed since high school, she still lived with the title of “school bully.” No matter how much she had tried to change her heart, her attitude, and the way she treated people she still felt like the mean and hateful bully that made so many people’s lives miserable. God had given her a new heart so why didn’t He take away the feelings of guilt for the cruel ways in the past?
Do you ever feel like these women, like there’s something in your life holding you captive? Is there something in your past which has the capability to make you feel shame, worthlessness, or with a label of a past sin that’s still stuck on you?
Even years after Christ saved me, I lived with the shame of my past and I constantly felt the regrets, the embarrassment and felt as though I would never feel pure, clean or holy in God’s sight. I still felt trapped and labeled as my old self. Part of me knew this was a lie because the Bible told me I am a new creation, a beautiful creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). The other part told me that I would always live with the darkness of my past and would never be able to wash that away.
But, the more I learned about my Savior, the more I realized that He would never make me feel guilty for past sins that I had already repented of and He had forgiven and forgotten a long time ago. (Heb. 8:12; 1 Jn. 1:9) Yes, He will convict me of my current behaviors that are sinful and need changing but will He condemn you for a past already forgiven? No, because there is no longer any condemnation when you are a child of God. (Rom.8:1) I realized those thoughts of uselessness and filthiness were not from my loving God but from an enemy who was trying to keep me from living in the freedom that Christ bought for me with His death on the cross. As long as I stayed focused and paralyzed in the shame and fear of my past, then I couldn’t find peace and joy; I could never be used by God to share my hope with others and help brings others to the same freedom in Christ that I had found. I was keeping myself locked in a cage when Christ had already opened the door and freed me. (Jn.8:36; Rom. 6:7,18)
All of us have something in our past that we regret and sometimes that thing, or things, can leave a painful stamp on our hearts. We think that we’ll always have to live with the regret of our bad choices and it’s now our shame to bear. One of Satan’s best tools to keep us separated from God or from living in the joy and freedom that the new life in Christ offers is shame. He uses lies and doubt about who we are in Christ and what God intends for our lives to drive us further into a life imprisoned in degradation and disgrace.
Take a look at Adam and Eve. They were forbidden to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil because it would bring them death, but they were free to eat from the Tree of Life. (Gen. 2:8-9,17 )After they disobeyed God, by eating from the forbidden tree, their eyes were opened to their nakedness and they felt shame for the first time. (Gen.3:7-10) They covered themselves and hid from God, instead of running for the Tree of Life or seeking forgiveness and freedom from God. Instead, Satan got what he wanted and they separated themselves from hope, freedom and salvation and, instead, hid themselves in their guilt. Many times this is our reaction to our sins, as well. Instead of finding freedom in God, we become imprisoned in our thoughts and our shame.
So, how do you get out of the prison of regret and shame? How do you finally live in freedom and joy, without shame as your constant sidekick?
The only way to get past your past is to seek the truth of God’s Word and let it permeate your heart. In His word is the truth about who you are now in Christ and that truth will set your heart free (Jn.8:31-32). When you truly believe God’s loving words to you and you turn your back on those thoughts that are not from Him, then you can finally walk through those prison doors and walk into the loving arms of Christ, free of that heavy burden of guilt and shame.
Know that there is never a sin too bad, too awful, too dirty that cannot be washed away by the blood of Christ. God has washed them all away, from east to west (Ps. 103:12;Mic. 7:19). My sister, you are a new creation in Christ, a beautiful and righteous creation in Him because He has made you white as snow (Isa. 1:18; Rev. 1:5). He has cleansed you from all unrighteousness and you are forever His beloved child (Jer.33:8; Heb.10:22). He’s not holding your past against you but offering you a new life in His everlasting love.
The sins of your past don’t disqualify you from hope, from a future, or from being used by God (Heb.9:14). He has made you alive again, in order to serve Him and be used for His glory so that you can share with the world the freedom found in Christ (Ti. 2:14)! You are valuable and precious in His sight and He desires for you to be apart of His plans. His grace, through which you have been redeemed COMPLETELY, has made available to you the richness, the abundance and fullness of life in Christ (Eph.1:7)! He has rescued and renewed your heart and your mind!
Don’t let Satan or others tell you that you are worthless, the same girl as before, or always blemished because of your past. Spend time searching God’s worth for the truth about how He really sees you and who you really are now as new life. Let God and His Word define who you are right now and will be in the future. Let Him set you free!
When the lies, the thoughts of your guilt and shame begin to condemn you then mediate on these words of the Lord:
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy. Ps. 103:2-4