Barnabas Network International | Online Resources for Churches


A few nights ago I was checking some information on the Internet. As I looked for an address on our history menu, I realized that there was too much history there to browse through so I asked myself a simple question, “How do I clear all this history?” It took a while for me to find the right buttons etc., but eventually I got there and all that previous history was gone. Just a blank menu box was left.  

That led me to think, “Wouldn’t it be great if some of our own personal history could be erased just that quickly and simply?”   Of course there are aspects of our background that we don’t want to erase – precious memories of special times, events and seasons. But I’m thinking now of the not-so-happy aspects of our past – choices we made and now regret. Words spoken in the midst of haste and hurt. Actions the results of which haunt and hound us to this very day. What can we do about erasing those negatives from our life’s history?  

The truth is that we are not computers and we don’t come complete with a “clear history” button. Unlike our computers, we have strong emotions that impact us either negatively or positively. And these emotions are, themselves, significantly shaped by our history.  

However, while we can’t just simply forget our past, we can experience a cleansing of those memories if not a clearing of them. Some Christians disqualify themselves from both an intimate relationship with God as well as active service for God because the memory of some past failure or failures still holds power over them. The emotional response of guilt has become like a prison.  

In Psalm 32, King David tells of his experience in this regard. Part of his own history caught up with him and he acknowledged how he tried to deny his culpability regarding Bathsheba and her husband, Uriah.  

When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD" —and you forgave the guilt of my sin.   “…you forgave the guilt of my sin”.Ps 32:3-5 NIV

To have our sin forgiven is one thing. But to have the guilt of our sin forgiven is quite another. I can have my sin forgiven (objective truth) but still be paralyzed by the guilt of what I have said or done (subjective feeling).  

I believe that we can find the same distinction in the New Testament.   

But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong.   1 John 1:9 NLT

Confession leads not only to forgiveness but to cleansing. Great news!!The memory may well remain but the power of the memory to intimidate and cripple us is removed.   It may not be the same as a “clear history” button on the computer, but cleansing releases us from the past into the future.


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