Are You Stuck in the Past?
“Then David got up from the ground.”
See 2 Samuel 12:20
God seemed really harsh in the Old Testament. That is, to the unbeliever, and even to the believer who doesn’t understand what Jesus has truly done for us. What has He done? He’s dealt with our sin issue, for good.
If you think about it, the fury God exuded in the Old Testament because of sin, that same fury Jesus endured in Himself at the Cross (see 2 Corinthians 5:21). Why do you think His punishment was so severe? God hates sin. Deny it as we might, God hates sin. But there was good news on the way!
On this side of the Cross, God’s wrath over sin has been satisfied in full! (See Romans 5:9). His olive branch of love and mercy through faith in His Son is stretched out for all sinful people to receive! Rather than continually wipe out groups of sinful people, God devised a plan in which our impossible task of becoming sinless in spirit would be free! How? He would send His own Son to pay for the sin of the world by way of a sinless life which was ended by a sinner’s death! And even better, we get free access to this sin-punishment-pay-off by way of grace through faith! Now that’s a loving God! (See John 3:16-17 Ephesians 2:8,9, Romans 6:6-7, John 1:12).
We are so blessed to be born in the era of the New Covenant!
However, in the Old Testament there was a man who made some terrible mistakes and without his love for God, those mistakes would have ruined his entire life. Why? Because he’d be stuck in his awful past. His name was David, King David.
King David was one of the most blessed and influential people of the Bible. Nobody chose him to become who he became, except God. He was laughed at, belittled, and overlooked by everyone, even his own family. His rise to biblical superstardom would make a blockbuster movie!
He is called many things, including “a man after God’s own heart” (see 1 Samuel 13:14); and Joseph, Jesus’ earthly father, is a direct descendant of David (see Matthew 1). This is the same David who killed Goliath with a slingshot and a stone.
But just because he is an Old Testament rockstar that doesn’t mean he made perfect choices–far from it! David had an affair with a married woman and got her pregnant. Oh yeah…but it doesn’t end there. He then tried to cover up this affair by having her husband come home from war and sleep with her. Then he sent the man back to war–to the frontline, on purpose–where he was killed!
David’s actions don’t seem like the actions of a man after God’s heart to me! It looks like he needed his own reality show on the E! Network! But guess what? Millions of Christians still read his writings to this very day for inspiration and wisdom–the Psalms!
To make a long story short, David got called out on this terrible cluster of sins by a messenger. Wisely, he immediately repented, “I have sinned against the Lord” (see 2 Samuel 12:13). This was huge! As a king, he didn’t have to do this! He could have been arrogant and said, “I can do whatever I want, I’m the king!” and then had the messenger of God killed.
But no, David loved God so he humbled himself and admitted his sin, even in his position of great power.
What happened next was God’s punishment coming down on David’s life. Remember, this is the same God of the New Covenant, but the New Covenant wasn’t yet in effect. Sin had to be punished. This is why it’s so important to realize Jesus’ punishment bridged the gap with God–a gap which was caused by our sin. David wasn’t so fortunate. Our Creator’s anger over his sinful choices was poured out…intensely.
The child from his affair became sick, so David fasted and prayed. He begged God to not take the life of his child, but unfortunately the child died. What did David do after this tragedy? Did he blame God? Did he sit around in self-pity? Did he stay afraid of God or not get out of bed? Did he beat himself up each day and decide to live in the shadow of his mistakes forever? NO! HE GOT UP!
The Bible says “He got up from the ground, changed his clothes, worshiped God, and got something to eat!” (See 2 Samuel 12:20). This is what made David different! He knew God still loved him and that he had a purpose for his life, so he didn’t stay stuck in his past! HE MOVED FORWARD! This is what we all gotta do!
Friend, we’ve all made bad choices and done things we wish we could change, but can’t. I’ve made some of the worst mistakes you could possibly think of and the devil kept me shackled to those mistakes for a long time–but only in my mind. God, on the other hand, had a better idea: learn from my mistakes and move forward!
Since Jesus has taken the brunt of all our sinful choices–past, present, and future–we can look to Him to get back on track! He will teach you who you are in spirit–perfect! His Spirit will also teach you which actions and attitudes match up with your spiritual perfection, and which don’t.
When we mess up, we have nothing to be ashamed of because we are already forgiven! (See Hebrews 10:10, Romans 6:10). The Cross actually worked, Jesus settled you up with God, so shame does not describe you! Instead of wallowing in regret, God wants to use our past mistakes for our future purpose. But we have to stop focusing on our screw-ups and start focusing on our supernatural identity.
Even though David didn’t get these New Covenant benefits (he had to worry about God’s Spirit coming and going based on his actions, see Psalm 51:11), we can still look to his example of a proper attitude over sin. King David messed up! So what! We all mess up! So what! We are not our mistakes! We are children of God! Understanding this truth causes us to organically live out holy lives! (See Titus 2:11-12).
So today, my friends, know this: God isn’t mad over our sinful actions and attitudes any longer. Instead, Jesus’ payment for our sin has brought us near to God and given us new identities–saints! (See Ephesians 2:13, Colossians 1:22). Because we are saints, God doesn’t want us to stay mentally stuck in our past mistakes, not even our mistakes from yesterday. He wants us to enjoy the New Covenant! He wants us to live out our new identities! And most of all, He wants us to enjoy our lives in Christ, today!
A prayer for you: Heavenly Father, I want to thank you for teaching me the difference in the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. Wow, what a difference! What Jesus did for me to take care of your anger over my sin, I’ll be forever grateful! Keep reminding me of who I am! Right now, I lift up all who are reading this, directly to you. So many of them have been taught that you’re still angry over sin, and your Word says different in Romans 5:1. We now have peace with you because of Christ! All of your anger was put on Jesus–all of it! Understanding this truth allows us to know you deeper, rather than be afraid. Please teach these dear readers that you are completely satisfied with Jesus’ sacrifice. Teach them that you are offering up free forgiveness to all who will believe! Reveal these truths and help us to focus on who we are–not on what we do. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
This devotional is from 60 Days for Jesus, Volume 2. Get your copy here!