Healing Memories

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Why do so many Christians continue to be dominated by their past? It controls them to an unhealthy extent; they seem to be chained to the painful events they've experienced, haunted by recurring memories and bogged down by negative emotional habits. They're unable to live fully in the present, or move forward into the future that God has prepared for them.

I’m convinced that if we fully believe, teach and counsel the Gospel of Jesus Christ, this alone is sufficient to deal with all our past hurts, no matter how terrible they've been. We don't need psychology, or the latest 'psycho-spiritual' craze coming out of California. All we need is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It's God's loving solution.


Turning to Alternative solutions

The Church has grown and spread for over 2000 years, so why are we now being told that the Gospel is not enough? Nowhere in the Bible is there any suggestion that the Salvation Jesus offers us is insufficient, or that we need to use additional methods to deal with 'controlling memories'.

Despite this, more and more churches are turning to alternative counselling techniques in an attempt to deal with people’s problems. These methods often combine psychology and trendy add-ons such as meditation, mantras, breath control, visualisation, yoga and other occult-based practices. The mind games of para-psychology may appear to offer a spiritual solution, but it's a false hope because they're based on ungodly principles. They may serve to numb our pain and our shame in the short term but they fail to deal with sin, which is the root cause of all our problems.


God’s Solution

When God the Father looked at the human condition in all its misery, He saw that the cause of it was spiritual. He also saw that the only cure was spiritual. Only the willing and perfect sacrifice of Jesus on the cross was able to break the power of sin AND all its resultant suffering, but it's still up to each one of us to believe and in believing, to receive it.

There isn't a sin we've committed for which Jesus hasn't already been punished, and there isn't a pain that we've experienced that Jesus hasn't already endured, however terribly we might have suffered. As the prophet Isaiah foresaw, Jesus took all our pain and bore all our suffering on the cross; He was punished, stricken, pierced and crushed for us, so that we could have peace and be healed. Jesus willingly took this on Himself, so that when He was laid in the tomb our sin and suffering was laid there with Him. When He rose from the dead, He left that sin and suffering in the grave and that is what He wants us to do too. We really can trust Him to take our pain and bury it. This is the saving power of the Gospel.

In exchange, God offers us a relationship so precious and powerful that it causes the past to lose its hold over us. As we receive His love, He shines the light of His presence into the darkest, deepest dungeons that might imprison us. He removes the chains of our sin, of the sins committed against us, and their accompanying memories. Then He holds open the prison door and sets us free. It's up to us to walk through the door and choose not to look back. As we do so we can finally begin to live fully in the present and look forward to the future He has prepared for us. By looking back, dragging up the past, and digging up the corpse of our old sinful lives, we maintain the power of the past over our lives.


Living a Life of Forgiveness

One of the keys to being freed from the past is forgiveness. As we come to the cross of Christ and repent of our sins, we are forgiven, gloriously, totally and undeservingly forgiven. In turn, we must forgive those who have sinned against us, even if they don't deserve it! When Peter asked how many times he should forgive someone who sinned against him, Jesus replied, 'not seven times but seventy times seven'.

Forgiveness is clearly not something we do just once. Not only do people continue to hurt us, but memories come to mind, often when we're tired or vulnerable. Sometimes they're triggered by events that recall the past. At other times Satan, the enemy of our souls, reminds us of old hurts in an attempt to trap us into negative emotions, and even make us doubt our salvation. Whenever these memories arrive, we must deal with them straight away. In practice this amounts to saying 'NO! You can't touch me now because that person is forgiven, that incident has been dealt with'. In this way, forgiveness must become a way of life.

Jesus also gave us an extraordinary series of commands in Matthew 5 v 44 : He says that we are to 'love our enemies, do good to those who hate us, bless those who curse us and pray for those who mistreat us'. If we still have problems because of what was done to us in the past, perhaps we are not putting these precepts into practice. It's an upside-down idea as far as the world is concerned, but it works, and it protects us from bitterness, anger, jealousy, self pity and a desire for revenge.

1 Cor. 13 v 5 Paul tells us that 'Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it keeps no record of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong].' Amplified Bible

Paul admitted that in his own life there was a battle between his old nature and his new nature from God. It can be true for us too especially if we cling to our emotional baggage and hang on to old habits. As the saying goes, old habits die hard but, we can put them to death as we learn to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit and in daily submission to God. By His grace we can overcome. Romans 12 v 2 tells us: don't be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, acceptable and perfect will of God.


Resisting Worldly Pressures

In the world around us and even in the church, 'emotional healing' has become big business. We get sucked into the search for what is called 'felt need'. To be honest, though we may all feel hurt, sad, angry or depressed from time to time, most of us are not actually 'victims' of our past. We need to resist the clever sales techniques being used to persuade us that we must be 'in need', and that we have to try this, that, or the other marvellous method in our quest for inner peace.

Some might still ask, 'does it matter which technique we use as long as people feel better?' In fact it matters very much. the Bible makes it clear that we should not touch occult things and that if we do so, we are rejecting God and effectively denying the power of the Gospel.

The Bible also warns us that in the end times even the elect might be deceived and alas, we seem to be seeing this happen all around us.

Let us encourage one another to hold fast to the wonderful truth that Jesus' Gospel of forgiveness really does deal with our sin and our past-hurts if our repentance is genuine and if we fully forgive those who have sinned against us and hurt us. This is why we need to daily live our lives in the light of what Jesus Christ has done for us on the cross.

Only then, knowing that our past is dealt with, can we start to live in the present, in the abundant life that Jesus has prepared for us. We can also look forward, with a clear vision to our ongoing, precious and blessed relationship with Christ.


When our eternal future with Jesus becomes our focus, then the past really does lose its significance and power.

Phil.3 v 13-14...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


This is what the church needs to be believing and teaching: the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the power of His cross.


Martin Edwyn and Sarah Beazley


Martin Edwyn 2015/2016