“…that, regarding your previous way of life, you put off your old self [completely discard your former nature], which is being corrupted through deceitful desires, and be continually renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh, untarnished mental and spiritual attitude], and put on the new self [the regenerated and renewed nature], created in God’s image, [godlike] in the righteousness and holiness of the truth [living in a way that expresses to God your gratitude for your salvation].” –  Ephesians 4:22-23 (AMP)

Ephesians 4:22-24 is a very encouraging passage of scripture. The Amplified Bible tells us to “put off our old self… and be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude]”  In other words, you can overcome any negative situation or pain from your past if you will just get with God and say, “Yes, I did this in my past. And yes, it haunts me to this day. But I am a child of yours and I know You have a good plan for me.”

Of course that is easily said than done for many of us because we tend to keep looking in the rearview mirror. We want to stare at our past rather than focus on the future. Our hope should never be based on what’s in our past. Our hope should be based on God and His promises for our life. Philippians 3:13 says, “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.” 

Paul tells us to forget what was behind, but is that really possible? It can be very hard to forget some aspects of the past, especially those we are not proud of. Even though it is difficult to forget, we cannot allow our past to hold us back from our future. I believe as we move into 2016 that God has great opportunities planned for each of us. It is hard to see those opportunities ahead of us if we are too busy looking backward. Or in other words, we should not let our past deter us from our future. Our past can either be an anchor which holds us back, or a rudder which helps guide us forward.

The question is are we looking forward or backward? My prayer is that as we move into this new year we would be laser focused on Jesus Christ and seizing the opportunities Jesus Christ and all that He has for us. May this be a year where you grow closer to God than you have ever been and that you see life, others and opportunities through His eyes.

The book of Numbers records the Israelites journey from Egypt to the promised land. A trip that took 40 years. The Israelites stayed in the wilderness 40 years because they couldn’t see God’s vision for their life. They thought of everything in terms of their past. In fact, they complained to Moses that they wanted to go back to Egypt and return to a life of slavery because that’s what they knew. But God wanted them to get a new present and future in a land flowing with milk and honey.

If you want to see change happen in your life, you’ve got to see past what you’ve already seen and experienced.  

Discussion Questions:

  1. How much is the past a part of your present life?  
  2. What did you get that you did not expect from God, people, and circumstances in the past? What was your view of God before the situation occurred? When it was occurring? After it occurred?
  3. What do you want from God, people, and circumstances in the present so you can move past your past?
  4. What part of your past do you need to let go? What is one thing you can completely give to God now?