A key feature of therapy today is helping folks advance beyond their poor coping skills by processing memories. Looking at the past can help them understand why they behave in certain ways in the present.
Christ followers have had this privilege since the resurrection. We know it as “do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). The Bible refers to the memories (habits, proclivities, tendencies, inclinations, predilections) of a believer’s past as “flesh.” Sometimes these patterns are of our own choosing and making. Sometimes they are the patterns developed because of the choices, examples, teaching, and actions of others upon us. Either way, they no longer mark “who we are” or “what we do.” They are but the hauntings of an identity we’ve let go. Our identity is now in Jesus…to be like him…both as a shield of compassion for others and a servant of character for Christ. In another passage we read:
“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.” 2 Corinthians 10:3,4
Dredging up the past can be ugly and painful. Who wants to think about the parts of our past that hurt? Yet, it may be necessary to “observe” them for what they are…relics, shells, ghosts. They only have power if we choose to allow them room to lounge around our active thinking, or to lurk within hidden chambers of our minds, just waiting for another opportunity to act like they belong. They don’t. The above passage continues…
“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5
And the more we build our present on what’s really true about us (God’s truth) and dispense with those fleshy memories–those ugly lies–the more we attain a future in which looking backward will be from the victor’s podium rather than the victim’s perch. Then we might find ourselves calling from on high…
“Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth! I will open my mouth in a parable. I will utter dark sayings from of old, things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done. Psalm 178:1-4
Yes! We will tell others our story…our testimony. We’ll let them know that in that darkness their was a Savior.
Sin sometimes gets a bad rap. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not my intention to water it down. Sin hurts. It’s just that we actually minimize sin’s assault on humanity when we limit it to all those ugly things we do against God and one another. Of course, unfortunately, it’s often exactly this kind of action and attitude that defines sin. It can entail seriously egregious stuff. However, not always. The whole story is a little more intricate. In fact, the most basic idea about sin in the Bible is “missing the mark” with God. For some that meant wholesale crime, iniquity, and transgression. The Bible doesn’t pull its punches regarding this kind of sin. For example, David’s sins against Bathsheba and her husband and the later sins of David’s children are but the tip of the iceberg when it comes to biblical history regarding egregious sin. For others, the story is not quite the same. For example, there was a lady who suffered with a physical calamity for years and years. She looked everywhere for a solution. Finally, she saw him…the Messiah…Jesus. She reached out to touch the hem of his robe… “for she said to herself, ‘If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.’ Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, ‘Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well'” (Matthew 9:21,22). She wandered far and wide missing–always missing–the mark. Then, at last, she met him…and she was healed. Sometimes we forget, that while it can be far more complex, the simple meaning of sin in the Bible is missing the mark with God. This is good news, because whether one’s sin is off the chart ugly and abusive or as simple as someone believing he or she is not lovable to anyone, Jesus came to ransom us from our slavery to such things.
Ever notice how a lack of true knowledge and understanding can create problems? If you don’t much like someone — if you have a natural antipathy toward him or her — and you don’t have much biblical wisdom you run the very real risk of being judgmental regarding him or her. If you like a person — if you have a natural affinity toward him or her — and you don’t have much biblical wisdom you run the very real risk of being infatuated with him or her. Judgmentalism causes us to be offended by the person we don’t much like, while infatuation causes us to take up the offense of the person we like. In both cases we are wrong and starting down a path leading to hurt…the inevitable and logical conclusion to Spiritual Identity Disorder.
As a pastor, I have seen one particular problem create for folks more negative issues than I care to remember. I call it SID…Spiritual Identity Disorder. If one doesn’t know her true identity then her purpose, security, and significance will always be dependent on who likes or doesn’t like her, how well she achieves or doesn’t achieve, and how well she feels about her appearance. The problem with all of these is the fickle essence of their nature. She will always be subject to their fluctuations. There is only one constant…God. The purpose we find in him will never change. The identity we receive as his child will never change. The security and significance given to us through his amazing love and grace will never change. This is why the Apostle Paul exclaimed, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”
The song in this link to YouTube is by Lauren Daigle. It’s title is “You Say.” It’s spot on regarding spiritual identity disorder. I pray the Lord uses it to move you closer to him.
At your service, Ricki.