In This Issue…
Ten Reasons Why Not To Bring Up A Person’s Past
A “holier-than-thou” attitude is never an act of love — it is always an act of violence.
Faith Or Failure?
We must look after our hearts. But our faith looks after us. It protects us.
God delights in showing mercy!
Outline No. 949: Ten Reasons Why Not To Bring Up Someone’s Past
1. Guilt will destroy a person
People can have too much sorrow! That is why Paul tells us to forgive the sinner:
“For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him. For this is why I wrote, that I might test you and know whether you are obedient in everything. Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.” (2 Corinthians 2:6-1 ESV).
And beside that, a person’s failures have little to do with you and me! To his own Master he stands or falls.
“Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” (Romans 14:4 ESV).
2. It’s risky!
Bringing up people’s past and making them feel guilty may get you what you want in the short term, but it is a dangerous tactic.
The Bible warns us that “if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.” (Galatians 5:15 ESV).
Using guilt as a weapon is folly! It is dangerous.
Others may look to see if you have skeletons in your cupboard!
“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” (Galatians 6:1 ESV).
3. It takes chastisement out of God’s hands!
The Lord gently chastises His children. Those He loves, He corrects. (See Hebrews 12:3-11).
And when we fight those who attack us, we free them from God’s actions.
“Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19 ESV).
Vengeance is Mine the Lord says!
When we bring up the past we can do nothing about it. We can offer no solace or balm.
But when God speaks to a person’s heart about their past, He offers hope and forgiveness!
Revenge really has no place in Christians. If we are going to be Christ-like we will need to learn how to be like Christ!
“When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.” (1 Peter 2:23 ESV).
4. It’s not kind!
It’s rude. It’s not nice. It’s bad manners. Even good-mannered unbelievers don’t do it.
A “holier-than-thou” attitude is never an act of love — it is always an act of violence. It may masquerade as “brutal honesty,” but the true intention of guilt is always to wound, to hurt, and to break down. Whatever the reason we do what we do, guilt aims to make the other person suffer.
We do it to the ones that are closest to us. We wouldn’t get away with it if we did it to a stranger. The closer we are to people, the more “truthful” we feel we can be!
Or maybe we just say it within ourselves. But that is no better.
“Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” (Luke 7:39 ESV).
This was bringing up this woman’s past!
The Parisee thought he had just said it to himself. But Jesus read his mind. He heard his thoughts!
We are urged to “…Bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ…” 2 Corinthians 10:5.
Perhaps we are hurt. But that is no excuse. Christians should be able to get over things and move on. If we cannot get over the past, there must be something wrong with our walk with the Lord!
The very basic, is to “be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32.
5. Christians are called to inspire others
We are supposed to make each other glad.
“For if I cause you pain, who is there to make me glad but the one whom I have pained?” (2 Corinthians 2:2 ESV).
We are supposed to build each other up, not pull each other down!
6. Confessed past faults are forgiven!
“As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” (Psalms 103:12 ESV).
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
(2 Corinthians 5:17).
Their past is “nailed to the cross!”
Do you remember the words of that good old hymn?
My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought
My sin, not in part, but the whole
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
We don’t want to mess around with anything that has been nailed to the cross.
“Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.” (Romans 8:33-34 ESV).
7. It’s hypocrisy
God hates those who claim to be “holier-than-thou! He says they are like smoke in His nostrils. (Isaiah 65:5).
We all have a past. All of us have sinned – and DO sin!
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8).
“If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (1 John 1:10).
Or then again, perhaps we are envious of their walk with the Lord. Like a child who wants to be the favourite in the family. So we try to bring down our brother.
What are we trying to prove? That they are worthless? And that we are better?
8. It splits up God’s family!
Unity is the goal of all true believers.
A house divided will always fall. That goes for local congregations as well as family homes.
“The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down.” (Proverbs 14:1 ESV).
Bringing up the past attacks the foundations of God’s building by driving a wedge between brothers!
Every time we bring up a person’s past in order to draw comparisons between us and them, we are putting a wedge between us and them. It’s just not worth it!
What is more it does not reflect the character of our Heavenly Father. He does not forgive begrudgingly.
He delights in mercy:
“Who is a God like You, Pardoning iniquity And passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, Because He delights in mercy.” (Micah 7:18 NKJV).
9. It’s judgmental
This judgmental attitude towards others’ past failures claims that we are without sin.
Jesus Christ tells us: Judge not that ye be not judged.
We should judge ourselves, but not others.
Paul reinforces the message to the Romans. He tells them they are inexcusable when they judge another.
“Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” (Romans 2:1-4 ESV).
10. It’s not Scriptural
Love doesn’t keep a record of things done to it. 1 Corrinthians 13.
Real love is not conditional!
For example, when we use phrases like “if you loved me you would…” We are saying that our love for that person is conditional. We only love them IF they prove they are worthy of our love.
That is not Christ-like love. It was when we were yet SINNERS that God loved us and Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8).
What is more, if they do prove it, that will not be enough. They will be expected to prove it over and over again. Nobody can be expected to keep starting from the beginning and prove their love all over again.
Outline No. 950: Un-forgiveness is a Robber!
I’m sure you know people who keep bringing up the past. Perhaps you are one of them. But that is a dangerous thing to do.
The Bible says: “None of his sins that he hath committed shall be mentioned unto him: he hath done that which is lawful and right; he shall surely live.” Ezekiel 33:16.
I love this verse. It gives more than the promise of forgiveness. It also brings hope for the future. The sinner’s forgiven sin shall not be remembered. It shall not be mentioned to him!
Just look at what a robber un-forgiveness is:
An unforgiving spirit robs sinners of Hope!
God’s plan of salvation brings hope to people. Jesus did not come into this world to condemn people, but to forgive them. Unforgiveness is so contrary to God’s plans.
Then again, it brings defeat to those who are forgiven.
Disciplining a member of the Corinthian church, Paul wrote to them to tell them they must now embrace him. “Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.” 2 Corinthians 2:6-7.
And then again, bringing up the past discourages the sinner. It has no beneficial effect.
Sometimes we use the excuse that they keep on sinning, and so we must remind them of their past. Jesus did not teach that kind of forgiveness. He said when your brother keeps sinning, you keep forgiving.
“Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? until seven times? Jesus said unto him, I say not unto thee, until seven times: but, until seventy times seven.” Matthew 18:21-22.
The next thing is this: Unforgiveness Robs God of His Glory. Forgiveness is something wonderful because forgiveness reflects God’s attrubutes.
For example, His Fatherhood.
“As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pities them that fear him.” Psalms 103:12-13.
Here we see the compassion of our Heavenly Father. He pities and comforts us – and we see that compassion in His forgiveness.
Another example is that He forgives FOR HIS NAME’S SAKE!
“Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy name: and deliver us, and purge away our sins, for thy name’s sake.” Psalms 79:9
God forgives for His Name’s sake. If God will not remember a person’s sins for His great Name’s sake, what right do we have to remind them of their sins?
Also God’s reverence is involved in forgiveness:
“But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.” Psalms 130:4.
We stand in awe at this Omniscient God Who could snuff out our lives, but instead forgives. Those who have been forgiven much love Him much!
And one last thought: An unforgiving spirit will rob US!
It will rob us of God’s forgiveness:
“For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:” Matthew 6:14
And it will also rob us of a sane estimate of ourselves. Un-forgiveness fools us into thinking we are infallible. Yet the Bible warns us: “Let him that thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” 1 Corinthians 10:12.
When we bring up a person’s past, we are forgetting that we have a future.
We do not yet know what temptations await us around the corner, and how we shall respond to them.
An unforgiving spirit also fools us into seeing ourselves as superior.
In his prayer at the dedication of the Temple, Solomon – the wise man – makes it clear that we are all the same. We are all sinners, and we will all sin, and we will all need forgiveness:
“There is no man that does not sin” …” 1 Kings 8:46.
Un-forgiveness robs us of a blessing. It even makes our offerings valueless.
There is no point even bringing an offering if we have un-forgiveness in our heart. It cannot be received. Oh, it may be received by the church treasurer, but it will not count in Heaven!
“Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there remember that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.” Matthew 5:23-24.
Outline No. 951: Faith or Failure
“But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” Luke 22:32
Physically a heart failure is a catastrophe. Spiritually the failure of faith would be devastating.
Physically we must look after our hearts, but in today’s message we shall see that in spiritual things our faith looks after us. It protects us.
1. The Trial Of Faith
“And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat…”Luke 22:31
Peter wrote about the trial of faith in his epistle:
“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:”1 Peter 1:7
Faith is not our own creation. It is God’s gift to us.
“For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” Romans 12:3
Peter’s denial was not the trial Christ referred to in our text.
If it had been the failure of denial, then Peter did fail, and Christ’s prayer was not answered, which would be unthinkable.
Peter’s trial must have been after the act of denial. When he went out of the courtyard weeping bitterly, it must have been at that moment when he began to face the onslought of Satan.
There is a time of vulnerability that comes after failure. Here is a paradox: After we fail is the moment when we can fail! And that is the time when we most need support. It is at that moment that we fail, or succeed. It is then that we come through or we go back.
2. The Tower Of Faith
“But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”Luke 22:32
Our faith succeeds, it sees us through – or our faith fails.
We should expect Peter himself to write something on this subject seeing this was his experience. And indeed he does. He tells us that we
“…Are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”1 Peter 1:5
That is why I am calling faith our tower. It keeps us. It is like the keep in an ancient castle. Faith is our guard. Paul speaks about the shield of faith:
“Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” Ephesians 6:16
Now, this is interesting. Christ was going to pray that Peter’s faith would stand firm against Satan’s attack. For if Peter’s faith failed at that moment, the enemy could succeed.
Saving Grace was Christ’s work on the cross. Keeping grace is Christ’s present ministry.
“Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” Hebrews 7:25
There is no other way to God other by Him, the Scripture assures us. However, this is a secondary benefit of coming to God via Christ: “He is able to save them to the uttermost!”
“To save to the uttermost” means to keep saved. To save forever.
3. The Triumph Of Faith
“But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”Luke 22:32
Peter’s subsequent ministry was to be the strengthening of his brethren.
So who were referred to as his brethren? It is often argued that his brethren refers to the other apostles. And that argument would lead us to accept that he was the chief apostle. The bishop.
However, after the resurrection, in the last chapter of John’s Gospel, we may see the three-fold commission of Peter to feed Christ’s sheep.
Jesus was sent to the sheep of the lost house of Israel. Israel was His sheep! Of course He had other sheep that were not of that fold.
Peter’s first epistle begins with this greeting:
“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia…”1 Peter 1:1
This word scattered is Diaspora.
It refers to Jews resident in Gentile countries.
Paul makes it quite clear that Peter was the Apostle to the Jews:
“(For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)” Galatians 2:8
Only the intercession of Jesus could make this transformation possible. Can you see Peter cowering by the fireside? Trembling. Fearful. Watch him as he walks away into the darkness, tears streaking his face. Vulnerable. Listen as the enemy of our souls accuses this fallen apostle. But watch the amazing transformation as Peter stands in Jerusalem and declares that this Jesus is both Lord and Christ. Bold. Victorious. That is the triumph of faith!