I Have a Past, but I Don’t Live There

by Creflo Dollar | 21 Jun 2017

SUMMARY

We all have a past but, as believers, we do not have to live there. It may influence us, but it does not have to define us. Everyone has done things they regret, but our past does not have to poison our future. The apostle Paul, who had an infamous past, is a good example of this way of thinking. If the enemy is going to attack us in any area, it will always be in an attempt to tie us to what happened before. It is not good for us to get stuck in our past; if we realize that we have camped there too long, we must let go of it and move on. When we encounter people who try to get us to live in the past, we must deliberately reach out to what lies in the future.

  1. WHEN THE ENEMY CALLS ATTENTION TO OUR PAST, WE MUST IGNORE HIM AND MOVE FORWARD.
    1. Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe. Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ (Philippians 3:1-7).
      1. Paul admitted that he did not understand everything, yet he had learned to reach toward the future, refusing to let the past hold him back.
      2. For Paul, it was vital that he forgot what was behind him. We must have the same mindset.
    2. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:8-14).
      1. When we realize that we have been hanging out in our past too long, it is time to cut ties with it and move on. Our future anointing and assignment from God is at stake.
      2. The woman at the well had a past, but Jesus did not hesitate to call her into His ministry (John 4:4-29).
      3. Jesus does not call the qualified or the religious; He calls the shunned and the outcast.
    3. Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert (Isaiah 43:18, 19).
      1. If we fail to heed this Scripture, we are opening the door for the enemy to hinder us from accomplishing God’s call on our lives. The devil wants to use our past to cause affliction to our future.
      2. We must not give our past the opportunity to tell us what we can or cannot do in our future.
    4. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20).
      1. “The life which I now live” is a significant phrase. It indicates that we are not focusing on what we used to do.
      2. We are not living by what we used to live by, but rather by the faith of Jesus Christ. We get this faith by hearing the Word. So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17).
  2. GOD DISMISSES THE BACKGROUND OF EVEN THE WORST SINNERS WHO GET BORN AGAIN.
    1. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:17, 18).
      1. We are not who we used to be. We must accept this by faith and diligently remind ourselves who we are in Christ.
    2. And Jesus said to him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God (Luke 9:62).
      1. We must look straight ahead and focus on God’s call on our lives. The devil wants to divide our focus by distracting us and getting us to look back; looking behind us impacts our focus.
    3. And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting (1 Timothy 1:12-16).
      1. Paul compared his past to God’s grace. We have received grace for all of our past issues.
    4. I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins. Put me in remembrance: let us plead together: declare thou, that thou mayest be justified (Isaiah 43:25, 26).
      1. God chooses to forget our sins, and even asks us to tell Him what we want Him to remember about us. When we declare things like we are righteous, redeemed, blessed, and prosperous, these are the things He will remember.
  3. GOD HAS A PLAN FOR EACH OF US. WE MUST NOT ALLOW OUR PAST TO HOLD US BACK FROM IT.
    1. We cannot fight the spiritual battles we face with our own willpower; we need God.
      1. We must cast all our cares on him, for he cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).
      2. We defeat the devil by laughing at him and being joyful. The joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10).
      3. When we praise God even in the midst of our troubles, we will see that no weapon formed against us shall prosper (Isaiah 54:17), and that we are the head and not the tail (Deuteronomy 28:13).
      4. d. We do not need to put up with the devil when we have the authority. Greater is he who is in us than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4).
      5. e. Our past can cause us guilt, condemnation, and shame. This in turn will produce fear, stress, and paranoia.
    2. Even past victories will cause us to be satisfied with what was accomplished and they may paralyze us in the past, stopping us from obtaining future victories.
      1. We must not be so obsessed with what we did before that that we cannot focus on future opportunities.
    3. We must not allow the past to govern our lives by dictating and controlling our thoughts. It is important to know what to think on and what thoughts to avoid.
      1. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you (Philippians 4:8, 9).
    4. Receive us; we have wronged no man, we have corrupted no man, we have defrauded no man (2 Corinthians 7:2).
      1. Paul refused to go back and live in his past. By faith, he stayed where he was in Christ.
    5. Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men (Acts 20:26).
      1. We should remain consistent with this way of thinking. We must not vacillate between believing it one day and doubting it the next.
      2. In the past there was much blood on Paul’s hands, but he took his position in Christ seriously. He had a clear conscience.
      3. Like newborn babies, when we get born again we do not have pasts.

SCRIPTURE REFERENCES

Philippians 3:1-14 John 4:4-29
Isaiah 43:18, 19, 25, 26 Galatians 2:20
Romans 10:17 2 Corinthians 5:17, 18
Luke 9:62 1 Timothy 1:12-16
1 Peter 5:7 Nehemiah 8:10
Isaiah 54:17 Deuteronomy 28:13
1 John 4:4 Philippians 4:8, 9
2 Corinthians 7:2 Acts 20:26