‘Oh they say that it’s impossible to ever save a sinner’s soul
but my God says to the prodigal,
‘My beloved one, you are welcome home
Your mercy triumphs over judgement
Love wider than horizons
Stronger than all sin
Lord, your kindness
Leads us to repentance
To the heart of God,
Your heart oh God, is all I want’ – (Heart of God) @Hillsong Young and Free
When I ‘came back’ to Christ, fully dedicating my life, mess and all, to God to do with as He pleased, I interestingly found myself faced with questions. Most of these I only asked myself, though I quickly found out that, even my thoughts are not hidden from God and without fail, He kept providing answers to them in His own way.
One of these plaguing questions was, ‘who is going to believe me?’. Even though most of my most recent sordid life had been apparently hidden (I had tried my best), quite a lot of it was also in the open, where even people who did not actually know these first hand, had heard from someone else or were busily filling in the blanks of what they thought I was up to. Quite simply, the past few years of my life before coming to Christ had been led terribly, leaving a nasty trail of messiness in its wake. This had been part of the reason why I had doubted that God would even care to pay any regard to me in the first place. Because, while I had worn His name in public, and tried to claim its power, my life had really been under my control and whatever hidden sin or immorality I had submitted to. Why would He want me? But He had. The gravity of my sin had not repelled Him from reaching out and dragging me out of the horrible pit. And now here I was, free, renewed, at peace and joyful. I had a song on my lips and a message on my heart, to tell to the ends of the earth, but I was stopped short by the loud question replaying in my head, ‘who is going to believe you?’.
‘People know what you have done and who you were, people have heard of what you may have done, people have added stuff they think you have done. Too many people know, the damage is already done. Your message will mean nothing and will only look like you are trying to cover it all up. Just stop. They know who you were’
Of course, I had course to worry about it, I was not proud of it and yet I could not get rid of it, no matter how hard I tried. The best would probably be to hire the Men-In-Black to invoke a major amnesia on the entire world and internet with their wand. They were inaccessible unfortunately, and I could not afford them even if they were. How then would I be able to tell the world of God’s goodness and His power and not be worried about someone pulling up my past and hanging it up for everyone to finally see with their questions of ‘how dare you talk about blah-blah, aren’t the one who did blah- blah and said blah-blah just some months ago? Girl, we KNOW you!’
In the bag of my past, I carried shame, guilt, doubt and unworthiness magnified. People’s opinions had mattered so much to me and shreds of it still lingered. I was scared out of my skin. I felt at once free and joyful about my newfound freedom and still somehow afraid because of that one question. I asked myself if they could be justified, you know, what if this was just a phase? What if I found out somewhere along the line that it was harder than I thought and decide to give up the whole thing and then those people would say, ‘I said it, it was just a farce’. Yes, I do a lot of thinking.
Well luckily for me, God had answers lined up in His word for me regarding all this. It is pretty simple, and once I started to believe what He had said, the opinions of others started to matter less and less to me
1. God forgives me.
He says in His word that He has removed my sin as far as the east is from the west and He remembers it no more. If God does not remember my sin, why do I have to keep dragging it up and reminding myself or trying to ensure that He remembers it? I can forgive myself and take the next step forward knowing that God almighty forgives me.
2. God does NOT condemn me.
He looks at me through eyes of grace, all my sins covered by the precious blood of His son Jesus Christ. He calls me beloved. Any voice I hear that accuses me or drags up what I did in the past or rubs my sinfulness in my face, is NOT from God.
When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. (John 8:10-11 KJV)
The devil and his demons however know how to drag up a person’s past because they know it comes with feelings of shame, guilt and helplessness, all of which are prisons and once a person gets into them, will do all they can to hide so that no one sees them. And so, they work overtime, through people, through memories, songs, etc., just to place a thought in our head and then have us thinking about how terrible something we did was and how unforgiveable it is.
Any thought or word that is accusatory just for the purpose of accusation and does not edify in anyway is NOT of God and you do yourself a lot of good when you stand on what IS the word of God and reject it!
3. Don’t hide.
What I expose to God, He heals and covers. It no longer has any power over me. What I keep hidden (like I can ever actually hide something from Him), wields a strong hold on me. Take it to God. Whether it is an addiction, bad attitude, sex outside marriage, disrespectfulness, theft, telling lies or gossiping, once given to God and truly repentant, He forgives ALL. The harm is in hiding it from fear of what someone would think of you. Like the Samaritan woman at the well who Jesus spoke to. Once all her shame was out before God, she was set free and she went back to proclaim to all within earshot, about the man who had told her all her hidden things (and had as well forgiven her). Read more in my post Heal: Expose It To Heal It
Psalm 32:3-5 puts it this way, When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night, your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin.
4. Don’t shut up about your testimony
God did not redeem me just so He will have a ‘one- up on me’, He will never use my past against me. If anyone brings up what you did in the past as a way of saying, ‘we all have a past, so just shut- up about being saved’, remember again, you were not saved and redeemed just so you would shut up and watch the rest of the world go to trash. Use your testimony!! It is a powerful tool and through it, many more will find their freedom. This does not equate to going around and looking for what others are doing so as to point at them and say, ‘that’s bad’, rather, it’s about living out the newfound life and love and proclaiming our joy SHAMELESSLY!.
5. I am FREE
The powerful blood of Jesus sets me free. Free from shame, guilt, doubt and unworthiness! It sets me free from the opinion and thoughts of others and even from my own wrong opinions.
I am free to live forward, no longer dwelling on my past and no longer accepting anyone else’s efforts to keep me locked there. My freedom goes a second step to help me see others through a different lens. Whatever stage they are at right now, just like me, they are NOT beyond the reach of God’s grace. And so my job is never to judge or condemn anyone either but to do everything in my power to ensure that they know there is a better way, to love wholly and to NEVER STOP SHARING THE STORY of my redemption.
God’s mercy triumphs over judgement, any form of judgement. This is all the goodness you need to live in freedom and to stop hiding. You need no other person’s permission or approval to stand fiercely by the freedom you have been given in Christ. Go tell it to the mountains.