Love Reigns Over Our Past

Love Reigns Over Our Past

Last week on Easter Sunday, we began a new series called “Love Reigns“. In this series, we’re celebrating the miraculous resurrection of Jesus Christ because Jesus’ victory over death is proof that He is the One True King over everything, and it proves His great love for us. So last week, we committed once again to live under the reign of Jesus’ love, meaning we let Jesus be the authority in our lives and live for Him. In this series, we’re also discovering all the ways that God’s amazing love then transforms our past, present, and future.

Today, we’re going to be talking about our past. Now everyone of us have things of our past that I’m sure we’d rather leave there, in the past. However, many of us have made mistakes and poor choices that we have trouble living down. And it can be such a heavy burden to bear when you feel weighed down by those choices you’ve made. Cause you know it’s your fault. They were your choices.

Some decisions are just honest mistakes that don’t have many consequences, but others have had devastating effects, some that last for years. Though we can’t change our past, although many would love to, today we can be ensured that our past does not control our present, nor our future. Because of Jesus’ work on the cross, we don’t have to be controlled by the mistakes or poor choices of our past anymore.

The gospels are full of stories of individuals, who have some pretty shady pasts, yet who experienced a completely fresh start because of their interactions with Jesus. And when people placed their trust in Jesus, they were different, they were forgiven, and they were made new. It’s the greatest news of all that all of our decisions, that have caused so much guilt and shame, can be nullified and voided, meaning they are no more, all by Jesus’ love.

Paul speaks to this truth in 2 Corinthians.
2 Corinthians 5:17
17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

It’s because of God’s love that we who belong to Christ are a new creation. By belonging to Christ or as some version say, “being in Christ,” it means we are connected to Jesus, in union with Jesus. When we are united with Him, we experience a transformation that makes us totally new on the inside. The Holy Spirit gives us new life, meaning we are not the same any more. We’re not just reformed, rehabilitated, or reeducated, we are re-created (new creations), living in union with Christ. When we accept Jesus as our Lord, we’re not simply turning over a new leaf. We literally begin a new life under a new Master.

But in order for this newness to be a reality, the old has to be removed.
POINT #1 – OUT WITH THE OLD AND IN WITH THE NEW

I want you to know that the love of God literally removes all of the old sin, shame, guilt, mistakes, and failures from our lives. When God’s love reigns in us, it overpowers the hold that all the old things used to have in our lives. The old needs to be cleaned up, and space needs to be made for the new things God wants to do in us.

Have you ever remodeled something in your home? I live in a fairly new home so I haven’t run into this a whole lot there, but in previous homes I have. If you have ever just tried to lay new flooring, you rip up the old flooring, but then you find the subfloor has some issues too – like some soft spots, maybe some mold, so you rip that up too. Then you find the floor joints are so great either, so you rip that out too. You then start the job from the bottom up with all of it new.

When God comes into our lives, He doesn’t just simply overlook or cover up our sinful past. Instead, He completely removes it and forgives it so that it doesn’t have any power over us anymore. This happens when we confess our past to Jesus in order to experience His forgiveness. To confess basically means to agree with God. When we confess, we acknowledge our old, sinful ways are just that – their old and outdated, rotten and no good.

And when we confess, we agree to allow God to get rid of them and replace those sinful ways with godly ways that are new and better. We go from telling lies to speaking truth, from being selfish to being selfless, from spreading gossip to offering encouragement, and from burning with anger to being filled with joy.

When remodeling a house, it’s important to remove any of the old and rotten pieces and replace them with new and fresh materials, or you’ll pay for it later. If you don’t take out the old parts, then they will always come back and haunt you later.

When we try to live as a new creation while holding on to our past, we end up frustrated, and our relationship with God and others will always suffer.

I know why it’s so hard to let go of our past because I suffer with it too. We ask God to forgive us, but we have trouble forgiving ourselves. But I’m here to tell you from my experiences and from what the Bible tells us, we can forgive ourselves. If we are aiming to be like Jesus who forgives us the very first time we ask, then we can forgive ourselves too. God has forgiven you. Now allow Him to remove it all, start us fresh with a renewed heart, and allow Him to instill within us a desire to live for Him. The Bible says this about God removing our sin.

Psalm 103:8-12
8 The Lord is compassionate and merciful,
slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
9 He will not constantly accuse us,
nor remain angry forever.
10 He does not punish us for all our sins;
he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.
11 For his unfailing love toward those who fear him
is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.
12 He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.

We don’t have to walk around defeated and full of shame anymore. If you are a Christian and a disciple of Christ, you can be confident in the fact that you have been forgiven, and your sin has been removed as far as the east is from the west – meaning where there is no end. It’s all gone. You are a new creation. Your past does not control your present, nor your future.

2 Corinthians 5:18-20
18 And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. 19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”

All of this is God’s gracious gift. It is all from Him. You know what this means? This means that getting past our past is not something we can do on our own. We cannot overcome our mistakes or make up for them by doing good things. Though it was our sin that broke our relationship with God, He has to the one to reconcile us to Himself. And that’s what He’s done. He’s done His part, and when we confess our sin against God and receive His forgiveness, now God’s love reigns over your sin. We have a restored relationship with Him, and we’re made new.

Not only that, but we then become conduits of this reigning love for others all around us.

POINT #2 – GOD’S LOVE FOR US AND GOD’S LOVE THROUGH US

God is interested in the entire world being reconciled back to Himself. He does not want anyone to live a life weighed down by a sinful past or shackled by shame and guilt. God extended grace to us through Jesus’ death and resurrection, and that was the greatest gift that could ever be given to us. And with something that good, God tells us to share it. We are to be ambassadors who implore others to confess their sin and be reconciled to God as well.

And may I just say, love for God is better caught than taught. People want to SEE you live it out. We can tell people all day long about being a Christian (as we should) and what it is like to have our past wiped clean. However, people do not want to have you lecture them. They want to see you live it. If they see the joy that comes from knowing God and the freedom from being united with Christ in your life, then they may be drawn to a reconciled life with God as well. In all reality, a love for God is contagious. And people want to HEAR that it means something to you.

Turn to someone next to you and tell him or her about your favorite movie, sports team, family member, or something else you really care about.

This was probably not a challenge. It would have been different if I told you to tell the person next to you about your last visit to the DMV or your recent meeting with your tax accountant and how much money you have to pay in taxes. But when we are passionate about something, it’s evident. When a person really loves something or someone, they can’t help but tell other people about it. It just oozes out of them. That’s why David said, “my cup runs over,” full of love and forgiveness.

When we really love God and His love truly reigns in our lives, talking about Him and celebrating His love for us should be second nature. Tell your story. Share how your past has been forgiven. Let people know who you were before you met Jesus, how you met Jesus, and who you are now since He has changed your life. And then demonstrate it.

Jesus wants to make His appeal to the world through the way we live and the things we say. It’s always been that way, and it has all been made possible through the person of Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:21
21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

Jesus took on our sin, our mistakes, our brokenness, and past shame and nailed it right to the cross. He became sin on our behalf, even though He was perfect and sinless. It was an act of love for Him to die for us while we were still sinners.

POINT # 3 – OUR WRONGNESS IS REPLACED BY GOD’S RIGHTEOUSNESS

There is an incredible exchange that takes place at the cross of Calvary. Jesus takes on our wrong way of living, and we are given the righteousness of God. The Greek meaning behind this righteousness is the idea that we are approved in the eyes of God. His righteousness is His divine approval.

Maybe some of you in this room need to hear this today. If you are united with Christ, if you are in Him by your profession of faith, then God does not see your sinful past. He looks through the blood of Jesus Christ and sees you as forgiven. It seems too good to be true, I know, but that’s the good news of the Gospel.

I recently read a story about a company that made cake mix. They expected to be wildly successful because their ingredient list and instructions were so simple. All the public had to do was add water. To their surprise, sales slumped. They didn’t sell like they had anticipated.

After doing some research, they found that their customers were uneasy about buying a cake mix that only required water. It seemed too easy, and therefore it must not be trustworthy. So, they changed the ingredients and instructions to include a single egg. Sales spiked, and the cake mix was very successful.

I have often found that the truth that God has forgiven us by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ sounds too good to be true and far too simple to trust. Many of us think we have to add to it somehow, with self-punishment that is not required or by trying to earn something that is totally priceless.

But instead, we are simply invited to receive the love of God and allow it to reign completely in our lives. Then, and only then, will we experience the joy and freedom of new life.

Your past does not define you. You are more than what you’ve done. Your past no longer has the last word and final say over your life. That’s all been covered by the blood of Jesus. You have been given a fresh start. You have been reconciled to God and in turn, you can now give hope to others that they too can be forgiven by God’s love.

How amazing!