The Bible exhorts the believer in Jesus to live according to the truth. When we fail to do so we suffer spiritual loss. We are told to confess and reject all sinful patterns of past behavior and not allow these to influence us today (Titus 2:12; 1 Peter 1:14, 18). Neglecting such spiritual responsibility will inevitably cause repercussions in other areas of life – emotional, mental and physical. When the Apostle Paul said “forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead” he could say that because he had come to terms with and reconciled his own terrible past (Philippians 3:4-13).
It is both helpful and necessary to go back into one’s life and deal with the past on the basis of biblical truth. When we do so, we are seeking to honor God and obey his Word. Ask the Lord to turn his searchlight of truth on you and your past. Trust God to bring to your remembrance all those times which you need to reconcile. Make a choice before God to be as honest as you possibly can. The following are some suggestions from a former professor and mentor, the late Dr. Victor Matthews, (put in my own words) to carefully follow:
1. Start with your earliest memories as a child. Write out (reject the temptation to just think about it or talk it out) every time you sinned or were hurt. Be complete, name the people involved, state what happened, do not try and protect yourself or other people and do not fantasize and let your thoughts run amok.
2. Evaluate each past event on the basis of truth. If you sinned, then confess it to God truthfully and receive his forgiveness and cleansing (1 John 1:9). If you were hurt by someone, and it was their fault, then state “so and so should not have done that to me.” When you have finished writing out the event, then deliberately stop and completely forgive the person(s) (Mark 11:25-26). If you were at fault in some way, then confess that to God, as well.
3. Resist the temptation to hurry with this process! Do not generalize by putting many events into one. Be specific and take the time necessary to get in touch with what the Holy Spirit of God is trying to help you connect with. This practice of reconciling the past is not introspection, so do not indulge in self-pity, self-criticism, or develop a martyr syndrome.
4. When you have finished each event and have confessed and/or forgiven the person(s) then do two things, and these are absolutely vital to bringing closure to past hurtful events:
—Make an affirmationthat Satan, the Accuser, may no longer use what you have written out against you. Make this statement and say it with flavor: “In the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ I take this event away from Satan and declare that he may not use it against me anymore!” (Ephesians 4:27; 5:11; 6:14).
—Choose to receivethe healing the Lord Jesus died to provide for those who believe in him and live according to his Word (Isaiah 53:5). Make this statement and say it with sincerity and conviction: “Now that I have made this right with you, heavenly Father, I receive the healing you have provided for me through the cross of Jesus Christ.”
When you have finished your work (and, by the way, do not overlook the anger and/or grudges you may have against God) then count it finished. After all, when Jesus said “it is finished!” he meant what he said. Reconciling the past means leaning into the finished work of Jesus for our complete healing. If and when you think of the bad event in your past, then firmly state: “I have dealt with that truthfully and it is settled.” Whenever you sin from this point forward, confess it, receive forgiveness, and make the affirmations of truth. In doing so we are living by faith in the Son of God who loved us and gave himself for us. Amen and amen.