Day 55: Dealing with the Remnants of Our Past
Today's lesson is about embracing the freedom that Jesus already found for us. The freedom is there - Christ already paid the price. We simply need to move forward in that freedom. We’ve been called by Christ to be free. He will not force us to walk down the path to freedom but will beckon us to take refuge in the shelter of his wings:
He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. -Psalm 91:4
Although we can be free of the trappings of the old self (complete with temptations, guilt, sin issues, and the like) there are still old wounds and scars that remain a remnant of the past. The strongholds can be defeated, but it can seem as though the landscape of our heart has been forever changed. What hope of restoration can we have in the face of desolation? In the wake of destruction, in the calm that follows the battle, Christ calls us to be fruitful. He calls us to Himself, the last refuge:
How much better it is to know Christ and have the burden of guilt removed. We can choose to either wrestle under the weight of guilt on our own, or come to know Jesus and surrender the burden to Him. He isn’t just calling us to freedom, he is calling us to let Him take the load and burden of our sin that we will walk through life free of worry, strife, depression or inner-struggle. This starts with simply confessing our sins to Him. By doing so, we are releasing that burden from ourselves.
That doesn’t mean we won’t have battles, trials and pain. It just means that we won’t need to carry the stress and burden of those storms in life. Always remember that even in the midst of these difficult times, God is sovereign and will not abandon you. Just realizing that and confessing that through prayer has done miracles in my life. When you stumble, go through a rough path, feel the guilt of your past, or experience any number of painful emotions as a result of your circumstances, remind yourself that God is right there by your side, pushing you to become all that He created you to be.
WHERE FREEDOM COMES FROM
By now you’re hopefully beginning to fully understand the implications of the gospel and find freedom from sexual sin. The Gospel literally means, "Good news." The good news of Christ is that we're not bound by our old nature (Ephesians 4:24), we are free from our past sins (1 John 1:7), we are now more than conquerors in Christ (Romans 8:37), and we have a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26). Remember, freedom comes as a result of putting our faith in Christ, not by works.
Being at peace with the gospel goes a long way in our hearts. The focus is taken off of us and we begin to realize that true freedom comes not from our striving towards perfection, but from the realization of who Christ is and what it mean to take his yoke upon ourselves. He carries our burdens for us, nails them to the cross and brings us before God the Father redeemed and washed white as snow. At this point in the course, a lot of questions may start to come up regarding our past and how to deal with it in order to move forward. Below we've listed some of those questions and how to biblically address them. If you have something in your past that did not make this list, please contact us and let us come along side you with how to move forward.
What are we to do with the relational sin that was likely a part of my sexual sin? i.e. If I was married and looked at pornography. If I hid my sin and lied to others about what I was doing. Although I have stopped doing those things and have received grace from God, there are probably sins I have committed against others that remain unresolved. If there is past sin from your life that has not been confessed, now is the time to do so. Confession forces sin to be exposed to the light, where it cannot survive. It would rather stay hidden in the darkness where it can grow. If past sin is left un-confessed, it is only a matter of time before it becomes an issue again.
If you are married, tread lightly when confessing sin. It is not necessary to go into graphic details and often only leads to more pain. Prayerfully consider how you will approach your spouse with your past sin and seek the assistance of your accountability partner, mentor, pastor, or other trusted member of the church.
If you're falling back into old habits, do not believe the lie that you'll never be free. I believed that lie for many years. As a result, it took me nearly 10 years to find complete and lasting freedom. The working out of our salvation is no easy thing and often takes much time, prayer, accountability, and discipline. For some, it may happen overnight. For the vast majority, however, it is a long and difficult road. When relapsing, remember that God has not abandoned you and will finish the work that He started in you:
being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. -Philippians 1:6
What am I to do about those who have harmed me? i.e. Those who exposed me or did not protect me from sexual sin. As simple as it may sound, you must forgive that person (or persons) and move on. If you are still in a relationship that is harmful to your sexual integrity, you must sever that relationship from your life.
What about memories of the things I viewed and/or did? Yes, I'm forgiven by God, but it haunts me. Some images and memories take years to fade from our mind. It's normal and will pass with time. Learn to immediately replace those thoughts with the word of God. In time, the strongholds of our past will fade away (see day 52 for more on this).
Your testimony is a powerful thing. It can be used to lead those around you to a place of receiving Christ for themselves. You should tell others the honest truth about who you were before Jesus got a hold of you.
And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. -Revelation 12:11
Day 55 Application
Will you allow God to shelter you? How can you allow Him to be your refuge?
What are some of the implications of the gospel in our lives?
What does it mean to work in tandem with Spirit and teaching of God as described in 2 John 1:9? What does it mean to abide in Christ?
How's your accountability going? Since the last lesson, how have you been with maintaining your sexual purity?