The spiritual life is not static, we are either moving forward or we are moving backward. We are each created for a purpose, and we must each make an effort to fulfill that purpose.
Many people today struggle with the events of their past lives, those times they recognize they failed to live up to their own expectations for themselves. This issue can significantly impede a soul’s progress in the spiritual journey, and unfortunately, the healing of this condition is largely misunderstood even in Christian circles.
Our lives are intended to be continuously moving forward, we should be constantly maturing, and this is most especially true in our spiritual life. We are all called to mature into the full stature of the one in whose image we were each created. The spiritual life is not static, we are either moving forward or we are moving backward. We are each created for a purpose, and we must each make an effort to fulfill that purpose.
…until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ…
– Ephesians 4:13
Not only are we able to make progress in our spiritual journey, it is actually required if we desire to see the Lord.
Strive for peace with all men, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
– Hebrews 12:14
Progress in holiness is actually the cure for the burden of our past failures. One of the clearest signs of our progress in the spiritual journey is to begin to forgive ourselves for our past transgressions, to leave behind our past failures and self-recrimination and to fully adopt a new nature.
…and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
– Ephesians 4:24
But, ironically, in order for us to assume this new nature, the way forward is initially more about dying than it is about growing.
We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin.
– Romans 6:6
When our Lord went to the cross, He took all of humanity’s sin with Him, He literally crucified sin. And if we allow Him – if we accept Him as our savior, Jesus Christ will free us from our sins as well as the negative consequences of our past transgressions. This is what it means to die to self.
So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
– Romans 6:11
When we are assaulted by thoughts and emotions from our past, we need to remind ourselves that in Christ we are no longer that person. That person, along with their actions, have been crucified with Christ. Sin itself, and the person who committed those acts, no longer exists; we have become a new person in Christ.
Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come.
– 2 Corinthian 5:17
This is one of the most challenging teachings of the Christian faith, and frankly, many people misunderstand it.
For some, the idea of Christ’s sacrifice does not eradicate our past actions, it merely covers them over. Some individuals believe God just agrees to overlook their transgressions. But that is not possible.
The Book of Revelations tells us nothing unclean will enter Heaven. If we ourselves are still burdened with our past transgressions, or worse still, if we carry the guilt or remorse for the actions of the ‘old man,’ then we cannot be in the presence of the Holiness of God. No, we ourselves must be truly made into holy people.
As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
– 1 Peter 1:14-16
This is the desired end of the spiritual journey, to be transformed into an entirely different person, a holy person, and that process happens to us a little each day, if we allow it.
The best means of our advancing in the spiritual journey is to first accept what Jesus Himself said about this new life.
Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
– John 3:3
And then, we should sincerely pray that God will do this work of transformation in us.
Article Copyright © Deacon Mark Danis
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash
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