God is greater than . It doesn’t matter what I choose to place in the blank. This statement is and will always be true. God can neither be measured nor contained, nor can his attributes. There is no sin that the blood of Jesus did not cover. There is no place I can hide or run that will ever take me out of his sight. Nothing I have done or will ever do will change his love for me. God is God. He is so much more than enough. He is I Am. Past, present or future, regardless of where I am or go, what I’ve done or will do, what I need, seek or choose, he never changes. His love for me is constant. His forgiveness is total and complete through the sacrifice of Jesus covering our sin, guilt and shame, once and for all, and remembering it no more. He is the keeper, provider and sustainer of all.
For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,
“This is the covenant that I will make with them
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
and write them on their minds,”
then he adds,
“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.
— Hebrews 10:14–18
As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our sins from us.
— Psalm 103:12 GNT
It is easy to allow things to weigh us down, but if we are really honest, this only happens when we are trying to do life on our own. That has never been the way we are meant to live. God is always with us. He never leaves. He never takes himself out of the game. We do that. We carry burdens that are not intended to be ours. We keep him at a distance, and God allows that to be our choice. He will never force his relationship with us to be more than our desire for him, however, he is always there. Choosing God each and every moment of every single day frees us to live in him. Our perspective takes on his eyes. Our burdens are lifted and carried by him. Our identity takes on his attributes. We walk in step with him and, ultimately, God’s desires, dreams and plans for us are realized. This doesn’t mean that we won’t struggle, or that everything will always be perfect. But, through God, our resources are without limit. We simply need to choose him.
I was reminded of the importance of a strong lead just yesterday and, until this moment, I was just entertained by it. I was with friends, talking about different songs that have transcended over several generations, and through this conversation we discussed the importance of a strong lead when dancing. Hang with me for a minute. Life is truly a dance. The music will change, but it is meant to be our accompaniment. It establishes the rhythm we take. The dance itself adapts to that rhythm. God is the ultimate dance partner. He establishes our steps and dominantly guides us with a confident lead. When we turn our focus away from his lead, we are out of sync and don’t enjoy the dance. When we choose to partner with anyone else as lead, we may overtake the lead, or simply stop the dance altogether. The dance is ultimately to be enjoyed by the partner in the moment. The lead knows where we’ve been and where we are headed, while firmly planting each step with the music as it plays and guiding us to do the same.
“You are not what you’ve done” is one of the hardest statements for me to grasp. Thankfully, God has given me enough faith to never have doubted his forgiveness. However, there have been times, and there are times, when I allow the enemy’s tactics to override truth, to override God’s Word and his Spirit within me. Sometimes I allow the enemy to fill me with guilt and shame, smacking a label on me, which allows me to remain stuck. Once I label myself, it gives way for me to continue walking in that brokenness and not allowing me to walk in the abundant life that my new identity in Christ should bring.
In high school, and mostly college, I looked a lot different than I look now. I decided to walk in the newness of life, in Christ, at the very end of my sophomore year of college. I believe God revealed to me the grossness of my sin and, from that day forward, I chose to never go back. Best decision I ever made. While I am 100% certain that God forgave me of my past (and future) mistakes, there are still consequences I face today because of those actions. Some of those consequences may seem trivial to people, but they tend to remind me of that person I once was. It is in those times the enemy likes to nudge his way into my mind and bring guilt in shame. He doesn’t necessarily hold me back from trying to pursue peace and joy in those moments, but he definitely brings on negativity, which I know is contrary to what God has for me. Since my past seems so distant and so foreign to me sometimes, it doesn’t keep me from pursuing the great things God has for me. However, the not-so-distant past is another story.
The things I struggled with yesterday, rather than 10 years ago, are the things the enemy knows he can throw guilt and shame on me for. One of the areas where I know he attacks me the most is within my marriage. If I do something that would make me the opposite of the “Wife of the Day,” I heap shame onto myself. My husband doesn’t make me feel like this, the enemy does. I start believing lies, such as my husband could have found someone so much nicer than me or my husband really deserves a wife with more of a gentle and quiet spirit. While both of those things may be true, it’s the guilt and shame within them that I know is not from the Lord. God does give us conviction when we are not living in step with his spirit, but he does not hold these things against us. And if he doesn’t hold these things against us, what right do we have to?
I feel like there is a balance. I need to understand my weaknesses and allow for Scripture to mold me and help me walk in the newness of life that God has already given me. I also need to not label myself based on my weakness, but instead label myself with the labels God has given me: righteous, holy, blameless, forgiven, spotless and new. When it comes to defeating Satan, one of the most powerful verses of Scripture I know is in 2 Corinthians:
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
— 2 Corinthians 10:5
Basically, that verse is saying that, when a thought enters our mind that is contrary to what God says, to take that thought and force it into compliance. We have the ability to demolish strongholds, and I believe the enemy uses our thoughts to create strongholds — strongholds that can keep us from all that God has for us.
Once we are in Christ, we are made new. So let’s walk in that newness of life. We are only able to live an abundant life if we walk in the knowledge of how God views us. Not only will it benefit us personally, it’ll benefit those around us as he makes his appeal through us.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
— 2 Corinthians 5:17–21
Surely you have heard the phrase, “When Satan reminds you of your past, remind him of his future.” Sounds like a good counterpunch when he throws the old you in your face, doesn’t it? But if you’re anything at all like me, then you too have found that he is quicker on the draw, and his memory is better than yours. And, before you can throw that remind-him-of-his-future counterpunch, he has already gotten in five or six remember-this jabs, a did-you-forget-about-that uppercut, and a blinding left-hook reminder of some long-ago indiscretion that sends you down to the canvas, writhing in the pain of a sordid past that not even you remembered.
On the other hand, your past and mine may be opposites. Mine: a hall of shame filled with mournful regret. Yours: a hall of fame, filled floor to ceiling with trophies and other personal accolades, making the time you spend dwelling in the past seem like time well spent, a pleasurable and satisfying experience. But don’t be deceived.
Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.
— Proverbs 16:18
True it is:
“The past is like using your rear-view mirror in the car, it’s good to glance back and see how far you’ve come, but if you stare too long you’ll miss what’s right in front of you.”
Best advice: “Forget the former things” (Isaiah 43:18 tells us); “do not dwell on the past.”
“For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and hope.”
— Jeremiah 29:11
Has the enemy convinced you that you are without hope? Nothing good up ahead for you? Scripture says that’s not so:
“He is a liar and the father of lies…”
— John 8:44
The declaration of scripture is this:
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
Then God goes on record taking it a step further to say:
“…And I will remember their sin no more.”
— Jeremiah 31:34, Hebrews 8:12
My friend, don’t try to figure it all out. Having placed your faith in Jesus, press on. The apostle Paul had an infamous past, as did many other major Bible characters, but he said this:
…Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
— Philippians 3:13–14
Satan knows that when we keep looking back, allowing the past to dominate our thoughts, we lose our ability to focus on what God is doing right now. Listen up: I don’t know who said it, but it’s worth repeating. “You will never find your future in the rear-view mirror.” Think about it.
Do you remember the first job you had? I do. I wish I didn’t, but I do. My first job was working at the Subway inside of our local Walmart. I worked there for two years, and the best thing that came out of it was the title it gave me. After working there, I was no longer just Ian Crosby. I was Ian Crosby the Sandwich Artist. And I wore that title with pride.
We, as people, tend to take what we do and turn it into a defining statement about ourselves. I’m an accountant. I’m a pastor. I’m a waitress. I’m a designer. I’m a student. We do it with things we are proud of, but we also do it with things we are ashamed of. We do it with the those things that we are reluctant to talk to others about. We take things we’ve done and label ourselves. I’m a liar. I’m a thief. I’m an adulterer. I’m an addict. I’m a failure. We have this habit of taking what we’ve done, or maybe failed to do, and using it as a label for who we are. We take hold of it as our identities.
The problem with that is, as Christians, nothing could be further from the truth. If you have laid down your life to follow Jesus, you aren’t the sum of what you have or haven’t done. You aren’t your past.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
— 1 Corinthians 5:17
This verse tells us that we aren’t what we have done. It says that the old has passed away. Very literally, who we were — our past, what we’ve done, our entire lives up to the point of salvation — has died. It’s no longer here. It’s passed on.
We have been given a new life.
A few verses later, in verse 21, we learn that the new creation that we are is the righteousness of Christ. Our old, sinful, dirty, shameful past has been put to death and the new life we have is the very righteousness and holiness of God.
Don’t let Satan use your past against you. If you’re a Christian, your past has passed. You are the righteousness of God, which is something that you can never lose or have taken away.
Today, live in the righteousness that has been given to you through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
The call to ministry was a call that God placed on my heart pretty quickly after placing my life in his hands at the age of 17. At that point in my life, I would have been considered a pretty good kid by society’s standards. I played football throughout middle school and high school, maintained a GPA above 3.7, and had a great set of friends who showed me God’s love long before I knew it myself.
When I accepted Christ into my heart, I hit the ground running, leading a youth small group on Sunday mornings and going to every church function that I was able to attend. I fit the mold of a “good Christian” by all means. I knew that God had me there, volunteering with the youth at my church, surrounded by great people that were constantly pouring into me and helping build me into a better man. But, despite all that, I let my guard down about three years in, and I fell into the worldly ways of the college lifestyle. Earthly desires filled my mind, which led to a struggle with alcohol for about a year and half, where my relationship with God had become pretty much non-existent. I had moved away for school and was able to hide my struggles from those who I knew would correct me if they ever found out, and I didn’t want that at all. God prevailed in July 2010 and brought this struggle to light, and in the months that followed, I was shown more love and support than I could have ever imagined.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
— Romans 8:1
With the gift of God’s grace, we as believers no longer have to feel the condemnation that keeps us running back to our sins. God has given us the gift of being bigger than even our largest sin, that sin that we try to keep hidden from everyone, that only God knows about. When God came calling for me to step into full-time ministry here at c|Life, all of my past sins and struggles rushed back into my mind, weighing me down to try and make me believe that I could not be good enough to serve the Bride of Christ. The awesome thing about God is that he’s not just God over all the good things in our lives, but he’s the God of the worst things that we keep hidden in the deepest, darkest places.
Run to him with your struggles, knowing that he will wipe the slate clean when you confess your sins to him.