Counsel to a Friend in Christ – Dredging Up Past Sins

Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. (Prov. 4:26 ESV)

A good deal of pastoral counseling is done in our sermons, other counsel is given in our weekly and daily interactions or in the communion of saints, and quite a bit is still given by letter writing or email as was the case here below.  In this note no specifics are mentioned and yet the counsel needed is not uncommon, so I trust it will by God’s good grace be useful to all who read it here –

Dear Friend,


I truly hope and pray you will by the grace of Christ forgive and leave behind past offenses done to you or by you.  However, remain alert, because past sins long forgiven can and will from time to time haunt or revisit the soul causing us personal times of blight and trouble robbing us of the peace and rest given by Christ and His Holy Spirit.  The old man remaining with us can fall prey to those sins we crucified long ago.  The world allures us and our own minds seem to conspire against us.  Then physical, emotional, mental, sensual, and many other kinds of internal triggers can send us down a road where those old sins are likely to be revisited and nursed by us.  By these kinds of snares the old enemy hopes to lead us into by-path-meadows a place where we think we will find comfort, but rather than ease this is the sure path to doubting castle (Pilgrim’s Progress reference).  Once in that place we either wallow in the shame of our past sins or justify and pamper a sense of self-pity for the wrongs done to us. There we can live (miserably) for a long time forgetting that we have the key of promise in God’s word.


Rather than live in that place, make a study of the work of Christ in Romans 6 & 7  – especially chapter 7 and verses 24-25 where His work is on display to your faith.  Then on into Romans 8 where “… there is therefore now no condemnation to those that are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”  In that good land (chapter 8) you learn that you can live with the sufferings of this present time, because you have in your possession something infinitely more valuable in the hope of the gospel (v18).  You know even the secret trials of your heart will work for your good and God’s glory (v28), so “endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:3).


You will find that you can live a lifetime on the promises inferred in these interrogatives, “If God be for us, who can be against us?”  “Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect?”  “It is God who justifies.  Who is he who condemns?”  “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?”


Envision by faith, that in all these things we are, “… more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”  Friend, be persuaded from God’s word that “…neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor power, nor things present nor things to come, not height nor depth, nor any other created thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”


A Christ-like humility which daily confesses with Christ, “not my will, but thine be done” is the path for all Christians.  If today God’s all-wise providence leads you to a cross or a crown accept what His love brings you.  Submission is always in season with God, so wear humility on the outside and inside alike, because the high and lofty One dwells with the humble and contrite in heart.  In all of life, in the push and pull of healthy or ill relationships, in the hard providence and in the good, I can think of no safer refuge, no more refreshing retreat than to be in the arms of Almighty Love.


In this way may you find in the land of the living pleasure in the dispensation of God’s ways, day by day.


Every blessing (Eph 1:3),