I’m not sure if you can relate to what I’m about to say, but sometimes when I consider my past it can be a very condemning experience. I think thoughts similar to these: Surely my sin is too severe for me to be saved… If I was really saved I wouldn’t struggle with this sin… I’m guilty! There’s no way Christ would save someone like me… The enemy of our souls can and does use these thoughts in order to cloud our understanding of the Gospel. And if we lose sight of the Gospel in the midst of such thoughts we will quickly spiral into guilt and despair.
But what if there’s another way to look at our past. That is to say, rather than trying to make myself forget my past (which never works anyway), what if there was a way in which those thoughts could became an occasion for joy rather than condemnation? It may sound strange, but before you tune me out, listen to these words from the apostle Paul:
12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. 13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. -1 Timothy 1:12-16 (NIV)
Here we see that Paul does not try to deny his past or act like it didn’t happen. Rather, his past became an occasion for rejoicing in the patience and mercy of Christ. When thoughts of your past come back to mind and the enemy of your soul is trying to use it to condemn you, remember Paul’s words to Timothy… That Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners! For the believer, the past should be a joyous reminder of the unfathomable mercy of Christ! And in this way, it will no longer haunt you, but will stand as a sparkling diamond radiating with the grace of Christ found in the Gospel.