Summary: Reclaim who God created you to be by not allowing your past too much influence in your life.

Over the past three weeks we’ve been investigating the culprits of spiritual I.D. theft. We’ve looked at how to avoid being, Robbed by Relationships, Mugged by the Mirror, and Stolen by Success. This morning we’re going to complete our series by considering the role of our past… and how to avoid being pick pocketed by the past.

The question I want to pose is: What power does your past have in your life?

The past is a very powerful part of life… it’s a short little word… but it is nothing less than the experiences that have shaped us… and often tries to define us.

Of course we’ve all had a lot of good experiences in life… deposits into our souls. Every one of us has built upon so many building blocks … every meal we were fed… every moment we were learning something in school… every minute of loving commitment. There is so much good in our past that we should stop and take in.

But of course … there is the power in the negative experiences as well… experiences that can try to define us and confine us.

There are generally two aspects of our past that can try to define us…

The wrongs done to us

Maybe you have been rejected

Disregarded in a job

Been betrayed by a spouse

Abandoned by a friend

Dishonored by a child

even…Misled by a minister

And of course… we may feel we are …victims of what we were born into…of limits and losses that are inherent in a fallen world. You may resent the life you have had to rise to… family background… poverty… a parent never known or never there.

And perhaps nothing is as powerful as simply the way we were seen… or believed we were seen… in our childhood. The way other kids spoke about us… the associations and nicknames.

The wrongs we have done

We may have disappointed a parent…failed at school.. .failed at marriage. Our past may include… DUI… a financial mess… a job we blew… a substance that controlled us… sexual bonds that never should have been.

Like the crime of pick pocketing… which silently comes so close and violates so personally… so our past can be used to steal our ultimate identity. Our past is so close… inside us… so that It can easily be declared to be permeating… and permanent.

So we do well to stop and ask…

What power does the past have?

How should we relate to our past?

The enemy of our souls offers some ways to relate to our past.

Repression… out of fear of what we believe our past implies… we try to ignore it… deny it… to others and to ourselves.

I may want to ignore the reality of my dysfunctional family… or that one particular choice I made… or that night I was drunk.

Regret… out of shame… we simply accept that feeling bad is our deserving or destined consequence.

Certainly regret ca have a healthy part in a process… can be a healthy start to something… a recognizing that can lead to reckoning… and finally restoration.. But too often… it simply becomes an end in itself.

Reduction… out of a sense of futility… we simply accept that we are now defined and determined by an unchangeable past. Could use the word ‘restriction.’

Now it’s certainly healthy to embrace one’s own unique strengths and weaknesses… but are they really absolute indicators of our potential? Ask Moses… like so many lives that God called… Moses had clearly reduced and restricted his future according to his past. God calls him to lead his people out of Egypt. Moses knows he’s tried to stand up before… and it didn’t go oven too well. Besides he has a speech problem. You mat recall… God is more than willing to work with those issues… but he won’t be restricted by them.

In all tehse ways… we can discover that our spiritual enemy is not only a thief and liar… but as the Bible also tells us… an accuser. Maybe you’ve heard his whispers in you’re in your heart: “You know what you really are. You’re a loser… just stupid… hopelessly alone… you’ll always be an addict.”

I know how disheartening it is when the Devil is calling you a failure and has a whole list of things with which to prove his point. I know how hard it is to press forward when the Devil has convinced you that you are one of those people who will never go forward.

> Any and all of these will give the past the power to define and confine your identity by your past.

All of these make perfect sense in a closed world… and that is why the enemy of our souls wants to hold your attention on the past and work the logic to repression, regret, and reduction .

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