Saturday, October 18, 2008

Dealing with your sinful past

Now there is no question that a painful past can have a negative influence just as a healthy past can have a positive influence. But the past is just that and no more: an influence. To confuse an influence with a cause is to embrace a worldview that says that "nothing is my fault; it's because of someone else," and eventually that "someone else" may be the person you married. God destroys this notion in Ezekiel 18, when He demonstrates that a bad child can come from a good home and a good child can come from a bad home. It's all a matter of personal choice. Choice, not the other person in the relationship, is the ultimate cause of most relationship problems despite the influence that person carries.

No matter what the monsters of the past may be then, the believer can take heart that their influence is limited. They are limited in intensity because God "will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able" (I Cor. 10:13), they are limited in influence because any generation can "see all his father's sins which he hath done, and [consider] and [do] not such like" (Ezek. 18:14), and they are limited in duration because "if any man be in Christ ... old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (II Cor. 5:17). Whatever the monsters in your past, their power is canceled at the moment of salvation by the power of the cross.

You can use your background as an excuse for present behavior only until you receive Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. After that you have a new power within you that is able to change your conduct. You have the Holy Spirit to empower you, the Word of God to guide you, the church to encourage you, the pastor to teach you, and prayer to connect you to God.

Jim Binney, The Ministry of Marriage, (Greenville: BJU Press, 2003), 97-8.

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