Burying the Past

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Burying the Past

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As God no longer associates us with our old sins, so should we put the past behind us. With our old sins now buried in the grave, as pictured by baptism, we should not go back and dig them up. Considering the symbolism involved, this would be akin to grave robbing.

Continuing to fret about past sins may seem like repentance. But it’s more like self-punishment. The truth is that God wants repentance, not penance. He doesn’t want us to punish ourselves once He’s forgiven us. He doesn’t want us to throw old sins back into His face by continuing to be consumed with thinking about them. He wants us to trust Him and His desire to completely forgive and forget. Forgetting may not be possible for people, but God works this miracle in our lives by completely removing past sins from us when we repent. After forgiveness, those sins no longer exist to God. Again: “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12).

We need to learn from our mistakes. But once we have done so, we need to leave them buried in the past. We are to “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). Someone who does this, in God’s eyes, becomes a new person, someone completely forgiven as though he or she had never sinned in the first place. What a wonderful miracle God works through repentance and forgiveness!

It’s important that we see ourselves from this perspective and focus on the future, not on the past. Paul expressed the concept this way in Philippians 3:13-14: “One thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Realizing how complete forgiveness is possible through Christ’s perfect sacrifice, we must look ahead to maintaining the right course. We are told in Hebrews 10:22: “Let us go right into the presence of God, with true hearts fully trusting him. For our evil consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water” (New Living Translation). A clear conscience is one of the most wonderful gifts God gives His children.

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