This past week, two American journalists were set free from captivity in North Korea. I can only imagine their joy and relief at being released from their imprisonment. It was truly a moment to celebrate, not just this week but for the rest of their lives.
Can there be anything scarier than to be imprisoned? Yet, that describes our lives without Jesus. But Jesus came to set us free!
In John 8, Jesus made an incredibly profound statement. He said, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free. And if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:32, 36)
You’ll be really free. What was He talking about? What does He set me free from?
Today, we will talk about how Jesus sets us free from yesterday’s pain.
For the most part, we like to remember the past. We remember difficult days, but what we really like to do is celebrate past victories.
This summer, my family and I went back to Corpus Christi, and did a lot of reminiscing. What we didn’t do was remember the failures. We don’t generally like to do that.
Yesterday’s pain has a way of crippling us. That’s why David prayed in Psalm 25:7:
Remember not the sins of my youth
and my rebellious ways;
according to your love remember me,
for you are good, O LORD.
There were aspects of David’s past that brought him pain.
Peter recalled an immediate past, when he denied Jesus three times, and he wept bitterly at this thought.
Some of you today might be in the same boat. There is a part of your past that is painful. You don’t want to think about it, but it’s crippling you. It’s keeping you from enjoying God’s goodness and love. It might even be keeping you from enjoying your family, and your job, and other blessings that God has given you.
But Jesus came to set you free from yesterday’s pain!
First, He wants to set you free from the pain of resentment. Everyone has been hurt by other people. You’ve been hurt many, many times. Sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally. What you do with that hurt will determine whether you live freely or whether you live in a prison of pain.
Jesus Christ wants to set you free from the pain of resentment so you can get on with your life. So you can get unstuck and get going forward.
Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland.
God says don’t dwell on the past. Let it go. Give up your grudges. Let God settle the score.
Why don’t you just let God handle the people who’ve hurt you and you get on with your life? God says “Don’t think about the past. Don’t dwell on it. Let it go.” Give up your grudges and let Him handle it.
You say, “I’d like to but I can’t. You don’t know how they hurt me. I can’t just let it go. It hurts too bad. I can’t forgive and forget.” And you know what? You’re right. That’s why you need Jesus.
Humanly it is impossible to forget the past. You need supernatural power. You need God’s love in your heart. You’re never going to get free from your past until God’s in your life. You’ll just keep reacting to things in the past that keep you from moving on in the future. You need Jesus Christ.
I don’t know how you’ve been hurt but God does. God knows how you’ve been hurt and He’s aware of it. And He can help, if you’ll give it to Him.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Has your spirit been crushed? He’s close to you. You say, “I don't feel close to God.” It’s because you’re not plugged in. It’s not because He’s distant. You’re not aware. God is close to the brokenhearted. He wants to comfort you.
He also wants to help you get over the pain of regret. Not only have people hurt you in life, you’ve done some dumb stuff too. You’ve blown it. You’ve hurt other people. And as a result of that, because nobody’s perfect and we’ve all made mistakes, we all carry regret.
And guilt is a terrible thing to carry around. It leaves you miserable. It saps your energy. You end up punishing yourself.
God specializes in new beginnings. If you don’t get anything else, get this. God does not want you walking around with a load of guilt. That’s why He came up with a plan to relieve it.
He sent Jesus Christ to earth to die for all the dumb things you’ve done, all your stupid decisions, all the bad things. To die for that and pay for all my sin and yours so you don't have to pay for it. What a deal!
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
What a deal! If we trust in Christ, He pays for all our mistakes and we get away free. That’s called freedom from the pain of your past. What a deal!
Would you like to be free from resentment and regret? Here’s what you do.
Yet if you devote your heart to him
and stretch out your hands to him,
if you put away the sin that is in your hand
and allow no evil to dwell in your tent,
then you will lift up your face without shame;
you will stand firm and without fear.
You will surely forget your trouble,
recalling it only as waters gone by.
Are you still punishing yourself for your past? Jesus Christ was hung on the cross so you could stop hanging yourself on the cross. He’s already paid for all your wrongs. Don’t you think you’ve been in misery long enough? Don’t you think it’s time for a little relief from the past, the resentments and regrets? Jesus Christ wants to set you free from yesterday's pain.