But thanks be to God, it’s not necessary to wallow in our pasts. In fact, contrary to the advice of a certain increasingly powerful medical discipline, He tells us not to:
"Do not remember the former things, Nor consider the things of old.” (Isaiah 43:18)
"For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:11-12)
“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:13-14)
And so on and so forth; the Bible tells us repeatedly that, once we are His, we are to forget the past and move on with our new lives. “Therefore,” wrote the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 5, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
What a relief to know that we are no longer the people who thought and said and did all those ghastly things! There’s no longer any need to drown them in booze or drugs, work or entertainment, elaborate self-justifications or any of the hundreds of other ways we humans try to silence our God-given consciences.
Because here’s the truth: Once we’ve repented of our sins and trusted in Christ, we are free to leave the past behind and move on with our new lives in Him. Sure, we may have to suffer the temporal consequences of our transgressions as long as this life lasts; but the Lord Jesus paid their eternal penalty, in full, on the cross almost 2000 years ago.
“What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed?” Paul asks at the end of Romans 6. “For the end of those things is death. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
What's the appropriate response? Perhaps Paul said it best, in Romans 7: "O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God--through Jesus Christ our Lord!"