Last week we saw how the Bible makes it clear that our past definitely affects our present and our future. There's a real emphasis on this subject in the Scripture in direct statements, clear principles, and through all the narratives in the Word of God. We also discussed how that there were definite benefits to having a past. Let me remind you of what we found out about how our past could help us.
This evening I want to continue to talk about dealing with our past hurts. Our past hurts can be divided into two basic categories.
1. Guilty past - where I sinned against God or someone else.
2. Innocent past - where someone sinned against me or hurt me. Tonight, I want us to focus on our guilty past. This is where we sinned against God or someone else.
I. If It Hasn't Been Confessed.
A. Confess it to God and the appropriate persons.
B. We are talking about sins committed after salvation. (We'll talk about sins before we were saved in a little bit.)
C. Right now, we're talking about that part of our past, after we have been saved where we have sinned against God or others, and we haven't confessed it or made restitution.
II. Passages on confession
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9)
"And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors." (Mat 6:12)
A. We believe in "parental forgiveness"
B. Judicially, on the account books of heaven, all of our sin (past present, and future) has been paid for by the blood of Christ.
C. But we also have a daily "parental" relationship with our heavenly Father.
1. That daily fellowship is dependent on our faithfulness to say the same thing about our sin that He has.
2. Note: 1 Jn 1:9 says, "IF we confess our sin..."
a. The greatest need that you and I have when it comes to this issue of our past is to be sure that we've have handled our guilt -- by means of biblical confession and forgiveness.
b. Right now you may be thinking: "you don't know me."
1) You don't know how evil and wicked others have been to me.
2) You don't know how many tragic events have taken place in my past.
3) How can you say the greatest need is for me to be sure I've handled my guilt in the past.
c. It's greatest in this sense.
1) You and I will never be prepared to handle any other area of the past until we have handled this one first.
2) Handling our past requires a right relationship with God.
3) It requires having a clear mind to understand the Scripture.
4) Our personal sin always clouds issues.
D. The Bible makes it very clear that my personal responsibility is to deal with my personal sin in the matter.
E. I want us to see what happens if we don't follow this principle:
"When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah." (Psa 32:3-4)
III. Making Things Right.
A. Sometimes folks have trouble with things in the past because they haven't fully cleared things up.
B. Forgiveness doesn't cancel out the need for making things right.
C. Some folks stay 'in the hole' spiritually.
1. They start every day "in the hole" because they haven't asked forgiveness for the way they sinned against one another yesterday and the day before.
2. Then they wake up, God has prepared a fresh batch of difficulties (of today's problems) divinely designed to help them grow.
3. But they are in no position to solve those problems and handle those difficulties because they still have a pile from the day before, and the day before, and the day before.
a. It's terrible starting out the day in the hole financially because you didn't get yesterday's bills paid.
b. It's terrible starting out the day in the hole vocationally because you didn't get yesterday's work done.
c. It's terrible starting out the day in the hole physically because you didn't get last night's rest in
d. It is equally a terrible thing to start out the day spiritually 'in the hole'!
IV. What about before we were saved?
A. There's no example in the Word of God of somebody being told to go back through their entire past, even before they were saved, and then somehow trying to find every person they ever sinned against.
B. That's not possible--and if a person tried to do that it would take all the emphasis away from getting busy and growing in the present.
C. The emphasis of the Scripture is building right relationships with those that are in our present.
1. We're talking primarily about those that are currently part of your life.
2. On the other hand, there's nothing that would forbid a person from asking someone's forgiveness for something they did in the past before they were saved if the circumstances allowed it.
3. But there's nothing in the Scripture that would cause us to dredge up everything we ever did before we were saved.
Next week I want us to look at how we should handle the past when it concerns how others have sinned against us. But tonight, let's not miss the point of the message. When we sin against another, we need to confess it and make it right with God and with the one against whom we have sinned.
We must not overlook the joy of repentance and cleansing. Note the example of David. We saw in Ps. 32 and 38 what it was like when he neglected to deal with his sin properly. Now look at Psalm 51 where he confesses and seeks cleansing from God.
Think about this for a moment; when was the last time we sinned against another? Now when was the last time we asked forgiveness? The answers should be the same. Come tonight and get it settled.