Renewing the Mind Part 4

Don't Live in the Past

By Jim Allen

Renewing the Mind, the Series
"It is Finished"
The Mind of the Spirit
Our Highest Priority
Don't Live in the Past

The Bible has some interesting things to say about people destined for change. Some of the time we understand what's going on. But some of the time we don't. Change is a mysterious thing. It happens. The person you were yesterday is not who you are today. Change is more than a "happening" for doing all the right things. It's part of the Christian experience involving identity and destiny. We need to remind ourselves who we are in Christ.

The following is a true story about destiny and how it changed one person's mind about identity.
When she was young, Victoria, the future queen of England, was shielded from that fact so that the knowledge of it would not spoil her. When her teacher finally did let her discover for herself that she would one day rule as queen, Victoria's response was, "Then I will be good!" Her life from that point was controlled by her future position. She would be the queen, so she acted as a queen should act. [1]
Likewise, knowing who we are in Christ has a powerful influence on our own behavior. Steven J Cole writes:
In the same way, the fact that we are united with Christ in His decisive death to sin and that one day we will be raised up to live with Him eternally should cause us to proclaim, "Then I will be holy." Counting our union with Christ in His death and resurrection to be true is the key to overcoming sin. (Source)
Jesus, the King of kings, walks the halls of glory in perfect holiness. Victoria's royal position was hidden from her; Jesus' royal position and ministry was hidden from those around Him; but was it hidden from Him? We don't know for sure but He probably knew before the age of 12 when he "went about His Father's business" (Luke 2:49).

As believers we need to recognize two truths: The first is justification made us instantly holy in the presence of God when we believed (2 Corinthians 5:21). We have a royal position. The second truth is sanctification, a call to walk in holiness (1 John 2:6). Unlike Jesus having a clear vision of his royal commission, we sometimes struggle to release the label that says: "Sinner saved by grace."

While the label is true, it does not need to be our focus. Turning away from the old to embrace the new is the upward call of God in Christ Jesus mentioned by the Apostle Paul (Philippians 3:14). We are children of God born of incorruptible seed (1 Peter 1:23). This holy relationship with God empowers us to know who we are in Christ (Ephesians 4:22-24).

God wants our focus changed from sinner to saint. While it will be necessary to look back on occasion to deal with sin, we are cautioned not to stay there; we are no longer commoners in a fallen kingdom. We are royalty in training for majestic assignments. The gospel calls every believer to prepare the whole man for a whole new life.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones writes:
...unhappiness in the Christian life is very often due to our failure to realize the greatness of the gospel. Some think that it is merely a message of forgiveness; others conceive of it as only moral in nature; still others see it as something good and beautiful. The truth of the matter is, the gospel is a whole view of life — it is not partial or piecemeal — consequently the "whole man" must be involved in it — the mind, the heart and the will. (Source)
Even so, God's call to renewing the mind is a call to change; and part of that change includes forgetting the past. While it is true we are sinners saved by grace, it bears repeating that the Father sees us justified and holy, destined for glory. But it's easy to be drawn back by the sinner mentality to revisit the past. I've done it. We all have. But here's the thing: The past is not the future and yesterday is not tomorrow. Stay there no longer than necessary.

About this struggle and forgetting the past Got Questions writes,
It's easy to "live in the past." Whether it's a past victory that our minds continually replay or a past defeat that hangs over us like a shroud, it needs to be left in the past. Nothing hinders present service quite like being mired in another time.

Modeling Paul's forgetfulness means we count the past as nothing. We cut the strings that tie us to that bygone moment. We refuse to allow past successes to inflate our pride. We refuse to allow past failures to deflate our self-worth. We leave it behind and instead adopt our new identity in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). (Source)
About this good advice one anonymous person insightfully wrote that you cannot begin reading the next chapter of your life until you stop re-reading the last one. It is so true and always a struggle to leave the past in the past. Yes, there may be great memories in the past but the future is full of promise for new memories to be made.

In closing, the Bible says the way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn growing brighter until the full light of day (Proverbs 4:18). Who among us would want the dawn to return to darkness and the present hour to become our past once again?

1. Adapted from Warren Wiersbe; Be Rich; Victor Books; pp. 13-14.

Image Credit: Silberfuchs; untitled; Creative Commons

TagsBiblical-Truth  | Christian-Life  | God-Father  | Sin-Evil  | Sin-Evil

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Published 10-18-16