The Tabernacle Scroll

Issue 45

In a previous letter I wrote about the importance of 'leaving the past behind'. Since this phrase is often applied in relation to healing (for example, of memories or of emotions) I feel the need to speak about it in this context. Let me emphasize that there is a scriptural process that is involved in 'leaving the past behind' and this process cannot be bypassed. We must have a proper balance. To this end I want to make the following important points.

In the scripture I quoted last week "…forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on….." (Phil 3: 13,14), Paul was not talking about his past hurts or his need to forgive someone, or to deal with past sins. He was talking about forgetting (giving up) his old way of trying to achieve righteousness. He had previously listed all of his accomplishments, to illustrate to the Philippians how he had tried to please God. We too are expected to forget the past in this sense.

However, our past (in terms of hurts etc.) is important, and to simply 'bury it and move on' without dealing with it is unscriptural. It is a misapplication of Scripture to assert that the 'new creation' in Christ automatically removes the effects of the past. If this were true, everyone on becoming a Christian would have instant relief from every negative aspect of the past! As any honest person will testify, the fact of becoming a 'new creation' in Christ has not meant that past hurts or problems disappeared. By the same token one is not any less 'Christian' because one struggles under the weight of past hurts. Surely no one can say that their present feelings are not coloured by their past experiences! The truth is that becoming a 'new creation' enables us to deal with the issues in our life, resolving them with Christ's help rather than covering them up with scriptural platitudes. It is when they are resolved that we can move on. It is in this sense that the past can be truly 'buried'.

The Scriptural way to deal with the past (hurt, effects of generational sin etc.) is not to deny its existence, but to bring it to the light so that it may be healed. This does not mean that we denigrate others by exposing what they have done to hurt us; but it does mean acknowledging our present feelings and dealing with them through the processes that God has provided. These processes include grieving, confessing, repenting and forgiving. We cannot change the past, but we can redeem it!

To make room for 'new things' the Bible exhorts us to let go of the past. Jesus, teaching about the concept of losing one's life, used Lot's wife as an example (Luke 17: 32-33) of the importance of letting go.

May we all 'leave the past behind' and move forward through the processes God has provided!

            Devotional                                                                                                                            Preach The Word The Word with Pastor Joseph Rodrigues