Have you heard of "testimony crimes?" Apparently young Christians are committing crimes to improve upon their testimony.
OK, that's an Onion-esque joke, but it's based on the truth that some people try to exaggerate their past sinfulness to make their conversion story more flashy. It's a silly idea that comes from our skewed notion of "big sins." You can make a case that God views pride, hate, and divisiveness as worse sins than stealing and adultery, but the latter are more of a big deal to our culture.
The opposite error is those believers who can't let go of their past, who continue to beat themselves up over things they did before they came to Christ.
The Bible tells us that believers are not the same people they were prior to their conversion. Before Christ, we do not want and cannot do the right things. Human beings are ruled by their carnal desires and a spirit that is opposed to God.
But in Christ we are "a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come." The person who committed those sins no longer exists. Someone else now lives in that body.
We all have things in our past we wish hadn't happened. We all have things we wish we could forget. Sometimes we're still paying the temporal consequences for those choices. But with God, it's over. The debt has been paid, the sin is gone, and those things we regret have been cast as far away as "the east is from the west."
Have you struggled with forgiving yourself, or accepting God's forgiveness, for past sins? Or have you continued to hold BC sins against someone? Or has someone done that to you?
How did you get beyond it? What advice would you give to someone with this problem?
When we come to Christ, we don't always understand what has happened to us....This is where the words Paul penned come into importance for us. As we read Paul's letters, we become acutely aware that it is not about what we have done, what we are doing, or even what we might do in the future...It is all about what Jesus did for us, what Jesus is doing in us in this present time and what Jesus will continue to do in us until we are perfected.
Philippians 1:6 (New International Version)
6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Hebrews 9:27-28 (The Message)
27-28Everyone has to die once, then face the consequences. Christ's death was also a one-time event, but it was a sacrifice that took care of sins forever. And so, when he next appears, the outcome for those eager to greet him is, precisely, salvation.
When we understand the miracle of what happened in the "new birth" we can begin to let go of the past and reach for the future...
Such an insight - perhaps we all like to gently overplay our "war stories" so we may appear more greatly in need of his salvation. Amen.
heh. The exaggeration bit doesn't happen amongst Anglicans -- hard to be overly dramatic when you were baptized as a baby! :)
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