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Saturday Sermon: Don't let ghosts of past haunt you

Nov. 26, 2010 at 5:26 a.m.

Phil Steinbach

By Phil Steinbach

For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.

- Hebrews 8:12 (NIV)

Imagine that for a moment, an all-powerful, all-sovereign, all-knowing, all-seeing, all-present God who forgets our sins.

I pause to think about it, but I have done some things in the past of which I am not particularly proud. Even if I tried to forget, there are constant reminders keeping those painful memories fresh and alive.

I catch myself asking God for forgiveness for the same old bad stuff over and over and over. God touches my heart and says, "Huh? What are you talking about, Phillip? I cannot recall that ever happening."

Even though God may have forgotten my sins, I have not forgotten my sins. The ghosts of the past come back to haunt me and accuse me. They whisper in my ear, "You should not have said that. Who are you to stand there and preach? You are a terrible administrator. You are an incurable procrastinator. And your office is a mess, too."

Those ghosts spew poisonous accusations and flaunt my failures in my face. I can neither forget nor can I forgive my own sins.

Forgiveness of the self is one of the hardest parts about being a Christian. We are our own worst critics.

God is not even half of the harsh and terrible judge that we are. We can be really tough on ourselves. Believing that God is an all-loving God is not nearly as difficult as it is overcoming our own self-hate.

Forgiveness is easy compared to forgetfulness. If I cannot forget my own sins, how can God?

The reality is this: to love unconditionally is God's nature. God is either perfect love or else God is not God. Perfect love does not hold grudges. It does not keep record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.

Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes and always perseveres.

The truth is, God has a graciously terrible memory, especially when it comes to recalling our sins.

You and I just need an occasional reminder that our sins have not only been forgiven, but also forgotten.

Let's do ourselves a favor. Let's make being a Christian a little more livable and free ourselves and one another from the past. If God has forgotten our sins, why should we continue to remember?

So go ahead. Let go of the past. Embrace the future God has prepared for us.

God has forgiven and forgotten.

Phil Steinbach is an area Methodist pastor.

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