If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
“The past is in the past,” as some people like to say. But many of us know what it feels like when a memory comes out of nowhere and makes us cringe in embarrassment or pain—that time we misspoke and said something hurtful, ghosted someone, or tried something new and it didn’t turn out as expected
Whether they’re small mistakes or huge regrets, trying to suppress or run away from them doesn’t help. But when we may feel helpless or afraid of our past, God wants us to know that we need not face it on our own, because He’s armed us with truths that can help us find peace with our past and face the future with hope.
1. Our past is redeemed–we’re all made new in Christ
When the Bible tells us that “the old has gone, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17), it isn’t saying that our past never happened. Rather, it’s telling us that our past does not have a hold over us, because it is Jesus who rules in our hearts and over our lives, and He gives us the hope of something new.
The past won’t change, but by being in Jesus, God has changed our identity and destiny: we have been made righteous, and now live freely as His children. We have the Holy Spirit as our guide. We have a permanent home awaiting us in heaven.
All these changes make it possible for us to say:
- Jesus can and has forgiven me for what I’ve done wrong.
- Jesus is able to heal my hurt and mend what is broken, even if not in this life, certainly in the life to come.
- Jesus gives me new opportunities and ways to do the good that I could not do before.
The Bible tells us about different people who had a “past”—Abraham, who lied about his wife being his sister out of fear; Jacob, who cheated his brother out of his birthright; Matthew, who was a corrupt tax collector before meeting Jesus—and who were still considered people of faith, because they repented and God redeemed them.
In the same way, God has redeemed us, and this means we can shed the baggage of our past and take on our new identity.
2. Our past can bring comfort to others
There may be terrible moments in our past that we would never want to relive—a breakup, a failure, a loss. We may have asked God for years, “Why did You allow this to happen?”, only to realise much later that our experiences help us empathise with and comfort someone else going through the same thing.
The Apostle Paul, who considered himself the worst of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15-16) and went through great pains, gave us these encouraging words: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
Our past can be a testament to those who are going through a similar season, and a reminder to us of how God has rescued and changed us, and how far He has brought us to where we are now.
3. Our past will not hinder God’s transforming work
The Bible assures us many times that God is in the process of transforming us (e.g., 2 Corinthians 3:18, Romans 12:1-2, Philippians 1:6). When the chains of our past keep pulling us back, we can cling to the promise that the Truth—Jesus—will set us free (John 8:32, 36).
We are freed and transformed when we choose to receive and respond to God’s Word. The most precious thing about the Bible is it reveals who God is in the person of Jesus. It is by seeing and knowing Jesus that we are transformed:
- The way He constantly took time to pray and depend on God for strength reminds us that we can bring our struggles to Him and He will help us endure and overcome them (John 16:33)
- The way He loved and forgave His enemies and died for them (Romans 5:8) means that receiving His love and forgiveness gives us the power to forgive ourselves and others for the wrongs in the past
Accepting that Jesus’s life and death has changed us (Galatians 2:20, Philippians 3:20-21) helps us fight against the lie that we’re defined by the past, and can never change or move forward from it.
Instead, knowing that we have a new life in Jesus–and that He’s continually sanctifying us–gives
us the courage to confront our past mistakes, and to grow and mature from them.
Jesus is the perfecter of our faith who triumphed over evil and death and gives us complete victory and freedom in Him (Hebrews 12:2-3). May His work on the cross and God’s great plan remind us that our past, present, and future are all secure in His hands.