One of the great blessings I have in
my ministry is helping folks that are studying the Word of God, and
have questions. Here's an e-mail that I received today (as I
write this it is February 27, 2008.) The message that the brother
mentions in his e-mail is from a Wednesday Night service at Faith & Victory Church
in Greensboro, North Carolina, where I attend church, and get to teach
the Word when Pastor Ed Taylor is on the road. He was in Tulsa
last week at Rhema for a meeting, so I got to minister! (In fact,
you can listen to the message by clicking on the message title in the
e-mail's first paragraph below... I have linked it from the Faith &
Victory web site.) Isn't the Internet great? We can share
the Word and reach folks all over the world! Here's the e-mail,
followed by my answer to him.
"I recently accepted Jesus Christ into my life and learned of you after
visiting the Faith and Victory Church website. I really enjoyed
your sermon titled, "An Attitude of Love by Decision."
Not letting other people affect me in negative ways has always been a
weak point of mine, but after hearing your sermon on the topic, I will
now be working very hard to improve in that area.
accepting Jesus, I know that he has forgiven me of my past sins, but I
am having trouble forgiving myself of certain things. I would
like to think that the Lord does not want me to live in the past, but
live in the future in his way, but I still struggle with some guilt
issues. Could you please give me some advice in overcoming this
I am really glad that I also found your website
where I can listen to your sermons online. I like the way you are
able to get your point across in easy to understand language.
Keep up the good work, and may God continue to bless you."
Praise God! I am glad that you enjoyed the message from last Wednesday. I think that the key to your question is that God is
Love. 1 John 4:16 says, "And we have known and believed the love
that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth
in God, and God in him."
In fact, God loved us before we had
accepted Jesus as our Savior; that is what is so amazing about the Love
that God had for us, even when we were sinners... He loved us!
3:16 says, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten
Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have
Note that God so loved THE WORLD
that He sent Jesus. And, Romans 5:8 says, "But God
commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners,
Christ died for us."
Now, if God can love us THAT
much, even while we were yet sinners... then we have to learn to love
ourselves enough to forgive ourselves and let go of the past. In
fact, we can't adequately love others until we learn to love
ourselves. This means letting go of what we were.
said that he had to forget his past and look only forward.
Philippians 3:13, 14 tells us, "Brethren, I count not myself to
have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things
which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are
before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling
of God in Christ Jesus."
He said, "...this one thing I do, FORGETTING
those things which are behind," and then he pressed "toward the
mark of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." We
are to be "heaven minded" and not "past minded." There is an old
Christian saying, "He's so heavenly minded that he's no earthly
good." I understand the sentiment, but I prefer to see it as "SO heavenly minded that they ARE some earthly good!" Once we look at the mark (goal) that God has set for us, and strive toward that, we become less US centered, and get more GOD
centered! Then, what we have done in the past is not what is
constantly before us, but rather, what God has for us in the now and
the future. THAT is what we dwell on, and think about, NOT the past.
Another key point is that we HAVE BEEN MADE the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. We are NEW
creatures. 2 Corinth. 5:17 says, "Therefore if any man be in
Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all
things are become new." Everything has passed away, ALL THINGS
are become new. A "new creature" here in the Greek literally
means, "a new species of being." That is, a new type of creature
that never existed before. We are not the old type of man, we are
a NEW type of man, one that is alive unto God. In fact, we ARE a spirit, we POSSESS a soul (mind, will and emotions) and we live IN
a physical body. We are what is reffered to as a "tripartite man"
in Theological terms. Paul speaks of this in 1Thess. 5:23,
"And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your
whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming
of our Lord Jesus Christ." Note that he prayed that God sanctify
us WHOLLY (completely) spirit, and soul, and body. Before being born again, our spirit man was dead unto God, but now, we ARE living SPIRITS (Greek, "pneuma") that possess a SOUL (Greek: "psuche") (mind, will, and emotions) and live in a BODY
(Greek: "soma"). By recognizing that we aren't as we were, that
all the old has passed away, and that we are the righteousness of God
in Christ Jesus... we know that our "right standing" (which is what
"righteousness" means) with God is of Jesus, not of us. This is
very "freeing," because my "right standing" (my position) before God is
not dependent at all on my past, or even my current, actions. It
is WHOLLY dependent on God's
work in me, which was done when I received Jesus... thus becoming a new
creation man. 2 Corinth. 5:21 says, "For He (God) hath made
Him (Jesus) to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we (believers)
might be made the righteousness of God in Him." Since HE
made me the righteousness of God in Him, I don't have to worry about
any actions on my part being necessary to be that righteousness!
In fact, He says plainly that that is NOT the case.
2:16: "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the
law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus
Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by
the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be
Eph 2:8-10: "For by grace are ye saved
through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not
of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained
that we should walk."
So, we are saved by faith (and even that is not of us, but a gift from Him!) And, we are justified by faith, we are HIS
workmanship... meaning He has "re-made" us as new creatures... so the old
has, indeed, passed away. That old man is gone. Since
we were saved by faith, we also have to live by faith, and not look at
what our lives look like, or feel like. I may not "feel too
saved" on a given day... but I still am... because it isn't dependent on
me... it is only dependent on HIM! That is such a freeing thing to trust in... and that is what faith is... simple trust in God!
Corinth. 4:18 says, "While we look not at the things which are seen,
but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are
temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal."
things that we see in the natural are temporal (the Greek meaning here
is "subject to change, temporary") but the things of God, the things of
heaven, spiritual things... THEY are eternal. They are not subject to change, time, or circumstance. THEY are solid and dependable! As are we, IN HIM!
I trust this helps!