I feel as if I’ve lived two or three different lives. And if any one of those past lives ever catches up with me, then everything I can safely call my own today is gone—my reputation as a leader at work, a successful marriage, loving family—my past threatens all of it. I fear someone, somewhere will claim to know what I’m “really like.” Only I’m not that person anymore. Not perfect, but thank God not what I used to be. I truly believe I’ve changed and am growing into the person Christ wants me to be.
But that person still carries a secret burden. As bright as her future is, she’s never free from her past.
I’m never free from the haunting accusations surrounding yesterday’s mistakes that may ambush me today. Imaginary scenarios and entire conversations play out in my head. They sneak into my thoughts with crafty subtlety. Sometimes when I tuck my baby girl under the covers for the night and she whispers, “I love you, Mommy,” I want so much to enjoy the moment and soak in her affection. But a faint, persistent voice inside tells me, “You don’t deserve her, you know. Not after what you’ve done …”
And when I meet someone that I genuinely like, whose friendship I really enjoy, the thought inevitably traipses through my head that if she knew my past, she wouldn’t think so highly of me.
When my boss compliments me at a meeting for my “innovative leadership,” I beam with a sense of accomplishment. Until I begin to remember all my failures.
It sounds hypocritical to say I believe Jesus has forgiven my past. I do believe. I just want to know, will I ever be free from it?
Have you ever felt like you’re the only one with something to hide? That sense of isolation magnifies your feelings of guilt. Satan wants you to feel alone, crippled by a false sense of guilt. Yet the truth is that every person on earth has a “past”—even those we consider “Mother Teresa” types who seemingly never did anything wrong. The book of Genesis describes how we inherited a sinful nature. Adam and Eve instilled a sinful nature into the entire human race (see Romans 5:12,17).
However, we must understand and accept that we are free from the penalty of our past because we trust Christ’s sacrifice as the ultimate and final payment for sin (see Hebrews 7:27). Even so, sometimes the pain of our past comes calling. Many women have an emotional disposition or personality type that lends itself to dwelling on bitter memories. Our adversary, the devil, often misuses this sensitivity to accuse and discourage us. He tempts our thoughts with guilt over past deeds. He calls into question the penalty of our past as if it is somehow unpaid—an outstanding debt he convinces us we must pay ourselves. We respond to his perverse persuasion by feeling as if we don’t deserve the love of family or friends, much less God’s love. After what you’ve done? Who are you kidding? This is the language of lies—a familiar tongue to anyone who longs to be free from a shameful past.
Satan tries to slip the chains of guilt back on our shoulders. And sometimes we again pick up those old familiar chains—our guilt feels so comfortable that we revert to it out of habit. But Christ has set us free! He paid the FULL penalty for our sins. Every wrong thought, word or action—all paid for.
Don’t believe the lie. God set you free; Christ died that you would be free—but you must choose to live that way.
“Christ’s call on our lives is a call to liberty. Freedom is the cornerstone of Christianity.”
“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36