A few years ago, one of our neighbors found out that his wife had been in contact with an old boyfriend from her past on social media. Apparently, they had also been stealing their internet service from a different neighbor at the same time.
“Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,” (Phil. 3:8)
Temptations my friends are not always waiting in the future for you, our past can attempt to modify our future just as well.
Only one time in Paul’s life comes to mind when he brought up his credentials, and it was necessary in that moment. “Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;” (Phil. 3:5) Just in case another time might enter his mind, a thorn was sent into his flesh.
I am not who I used to be, and I am not what I will become, and in this regard our past, no matter if it was evil or pleasant, no matter if it was one of folly and foolishness or filled with credentials and accolades, our past has no place in our present, save for that which has glorified the Living God. And even in this we must be exceptionally cautious.
“For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?” (1st Cor. 4:7)
For the one who has earned rewards, pride can find a foothold, for the one who was sinful exceedingly, shame can hinder their progress in growing in the grace and the knowledge of the Lord. The past can haunt us, so to speak, whether it be by regret or past desires that should have no place any longer in our heart. In this regard, you are your best example, you have firsthand knowledge of the situation, you were there.
“But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.” (2nd Peter 2:22)
There is little hope of a future for one who lives in the past, and the present, the only place where we truly live, can be and most likely will be of no value if memories are what guide you in your life.
For us to desire what we once had is to say that what we now possess is of little value to us.
“But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?” (Gal. 4:9)
“For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” (Romans 6:14)
Herein is one of the greatest traps, following the Law when we should be following Christ, adhering still to that which is past, and in the past, in an attempt to come into a right relationship with the Almighty. Nearly every book of the New Testament touches on this point, remove yourself from the past, you have been forgiven, forgive yourself, all your accolades and rewards from this world will avail you nothing in the sight of the Lord.
“For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.” (Heb. 8:7)
The Law never saved anyone.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:” (Eph. 2:8)
If you want to look back on your past, start at the cross, start with the moment that burden of sin was removed from your shoulders, start where your new life in Christ began. Go from there, whether it be a few days or weeks or many decades, look back on His grace, on promises fulfilled, of prayers answered.
The only person looking back on that path my friends is the Lord Jesus Christ, ensuring that you are still following Him.
If our adversary cannot put a fear of the future in you, he will place your past in front of you, whether it be that old flame, long since burned out, the regrets of the moments of your life, both before and after you were born-again, or the rekindling of pride and vainglory. The point is to attempt to hinder your present walk, to slow you down on the path.
Follow this verse and there will be less of an opportunity for that to happen.
“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;” (2nd Cor. 10:5)