Where to Set Our Focus

 

Do you tend to hold onto things a little too long?  Are you being weighed down by the heavy hand of guilt?  Can you walk away from all of the hurt and shame or are you still wrapped up in all of it?  Well friend there is a way to cut these heavy cords once and for all.  That way is Jesus.

 

Many of us are so consumed by our past and we lose ourselves in it.  We never make the transition to the present and we risk the possibility of a future because of it.  It is time to put things back where they belong and focus on what is currently heading our way.  We cannot benefit from holding onto issues from our past.  We need to find resolution or we will never see the joy that the future brings.  Our refusal to “let it go” (I could not resist saying that phrase since everyone else is…) keeps us stuck in the past and distant from God.  Paul in Philippians 3:13 can attest to this when he says: “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do:  Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.”

 

I have made a lot of mistakes in my past.  That is a fact.  However, I refused to accept that I was forgiven for my mistakes no matter how grievous.  How could I be forgiven?  But the more I thought about this and the destruction that resulted from my refusing to move on, I realized I was dishonoring what Jesus did for me when He died on the cross.  Every time I clung to my past and found myself drowning in my guilt, it was as if I was saying Jesus’ dying on the cross was not enough because it did not cover my sins.  I was so lost and so consumed by pain that I didn’t understand what my Lord did for all of us.  I was a sinner, but I had to realize that his dying on the cross covered all sin; which meant that included my sin as well.  Our conscience was cleansed because of this sacrifice.

 

In John 3:16 we are told that God loved us so much that he sent his son to save us and through this we were offered everlasting life.  In John 3:17 he continues this line of reasoning:  “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”  We all learn that sin is what keeps us distant from God and per Romans 3:23:  For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” that means everyone is a sinner and everyone falls short.

 

So what do we need to do to get closer to God?  We need to follow his instructions by listening to his word.  We need not only to just read the word, but to believe the promises written within the word.  For example, once we believe and accept Christ into our lives we become a new person.  2 Corinthians 5:17 attests to this:  “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

 

Therefore once we accept Christ we learn that he wants us to be accountable for our actions.  How do we become accountable?  We admit to our wrongdoing – our sin.  We confess what we have done wrong and what is troubling us.  1 John 1:9 stands behind this:  “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  A new picture of peace and hope starts to form, but it will remain hazy if we do not tackle the stronghold that has a hold over us.  That stronghold is our hanging onto our guilt instead of releasing it and basking in the joy of God’s forgiveness and love.

 

How do we then cut the strings that bind us?  We have to look at the whole picture not just the window view the devil gives us.  As I previously mentioned, once we received Jesus in our lives we became a new person.  Our past is over.  It is sealed up and forgotten.  However, a war is still being waged between the new us and our old self.  We have set up barriers that prevent us from moving on and living in peace.  The devil loves to get a hook into everyone and he will keep at it until he succeeds or is knocked out by the Lord.  To ensure our win, we need to stand firm and hold onto our newfound belief.  This fight will not be easy and it can slowly eat away at you and chip at your resolve, but with Jesus at the helm it can be dealt with and it can be won…

 

In every fight there are two sides – two opponents if you will.  On one side, we have our greatest fighter, which is our conviction.  Our conviction lets us know when we do wrong and it calls us to repent of any wrongdoing.  Our conviction comes from the Holy Spirit and he is fighting hard for us and is always in our corner.

 

On the other side is our opponent, who loves to play on your guilt and on your fears.  He is called condemnation.  This opponent is fierce and determined to get us to crack or break down.  He reminds us constantly of what we did, who we hurt and never lets us forget our past sins.  He basically holds this over our head.  Both are determined to win the fight.  Keep in mind that one will try to build us up and the other will fight tooth and nail to tear us down.

 

Before the bell rings and the two sides begin the fight, we need to examine our opponent.  The devil does not play fairly.  He plays on our weaknesses and has a stronghold over us.  He creates barriers to keep us from having a strong relationship with God.  A stronghold is basically a lie that we believe.  We tell ourselves this lie over and over again and we believe what we say.  We are feeding into the devil’s plan.  When we buy into this we now have not only an incorrect perception of ourselves, but of God as well.  Once again we need to take a second look at 2 Corinthians 5:17 to refute this stronghold.  “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things have become new.”  Since we are new in Christ, we are cleansed of our past and forgiven for all of our sins:  past, present and future.  We need to remind ourselves of this in order to break the stronghold in front of us.  Also keep in mind that not only are we a new creation, we are also strengthened and renewed in mind once we have let Jesus into our lives.  Romans 12:2 supports this when we are given the following instructions: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”  There are multiple barriers that exist, but we can overcome them.  Let’s address them round by round.

 

The bell rings and the fight begins…In Round 1, we have the first barrier which is the idea that whatever we have done is so bad that even though God forgives us our sins, we buy into the lie that we cannot be forgiven.  If we follow this train of thought then we are denying what Scripture states.  Jesus died for all of us and those of us who believe in him and receive him are saved as noted in Acts 2:21:  Everyone who calls upon the name of the LORD will be saved.” To break this barrier remember that and say there are no exceptions.  Everyone who calls on his name is saved.  Christ is sufficient.  Winner of Round 1 by a landslide:  Christ.

 

In Round 2 we have another barrier.  There are some who believe in Christ’s forgiveness, but they cannot forgive themselves for their actions.  This is a point of view that some use to justify why they hang onto their guilt.  Actually, strip that statement down to the bare bones and it becomes an arrogant point of view.  When we say that we cannot forgive ourselves for our sins, we are assuming that we know better than God.  It wasn’t enough that he forgave us, but now we assume to be more knowledgeable than the one who created us.  When God says that he has forgiven us and that all is forgotten, take him at his word!  When we refuse to keep living in our past sins and let the guilt fall away, only then can we experience peace. Winner of Round 2:  Christ.  Hold onto His Word and His promise.

 

Round 3’s barrier is when we decide by ourselves, to use punishment as a compensation for our sins.  It is true that all bad choices or actions have consequences, but we need to keep in mind that no matter the consequences or how we punish ourselves, this will never win favor in God’s eyes.  We cannot pay enough or punish ourselves enough to compensate for our poor choices.  What we do will never be enough.  It is only because of His grace that we are saved and only because of our repentance of our sins that He forgives us.  He does not measure us by how hard we punish ourselves for our wrongdoings.  Nor does this mean that the consequences are readily resolved once we ask for forgiveness.  Sometimes it can take years to repair the damage we created.  It does not mean we have not been forgiven, for we have.  It means that we need to deal with the consequences despite our being forgiven.  Remember, Christ is always the answer.  He is the one who paid the penalty for our sins, not us.  Round 3 puts Christ in the lead and the devil down for the count.

 

Our final round discusses one last barrier.  We experience a lot of suffering in this life and sometimes we are angry because of it.  Do you really want to compare who suffered the most here?  By a landslide it was Christ’ dying on the cross that was the most painful.  Whenever we go through storms and no matter how painful they may be, we tend to think first and foremost about ourselves and our sacrifice.  We think God is against us during this time and that he did not forgive us and now we have to pay the price for our sin.  Child, if you think this argument has any merit, then you need to reexamine your relationship with God.  What is gained by this argument?  We only suffer alone in our pain when we distance ourselves from God.  God does not say there will never be any pain, but rather that he will get us through it.  Life is not fair because we live in a fallen world and injustice occurs.  However, it is here that we need to hold on tightly to His word and live in the knowledge that he will get justice for all that have been hurt or taken advantage of.  Justice may be served here on earth, or it will be served in heaven, but it will be served, as per his promise.  Do not be bitter or angry, but reach out to the one who gave everything up for you to live.  This knowledge serves the final crushing blow and the match is now over.  Jesus is victor.

 

In summary, we need to ask ourselves a question.  Do we cling to God’s promise that we are forgiven of our sins by the death of our Lord or do we keep running around in circles wading in all of our guilt, pain and misery?  When you choose Christ the answer is evident.  Choosing Christ does not prevent the fight, but it gives us the confidence to fight this war. Yes, there are two opponents in this fight, but only one wins. We have all of the strength we need to win this fight, when He is on our side.  Christ died on the cross for us and he gave us a new life, a new beginning and the promise that he will be with us until the end of time.  Our winning strategy is to lean on Jesus, and accept his support.   When we lean on the Lord we can KO our opponent once and for all.

 

Spoiler alert!  Anyone who has read the entire bible knows that Jesus wins.  He took the sting out of death and won the battle.  We need to remember this whenever the devil tries to fool us and attempt to diminish what Christ did for us.  Now that is something to focus on and a wonderful reason to live for!  Oh yes, God is good!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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