I use to feel like there were two types of women in Christ. Women with “clean” pasts and women with “dirty” pasts. I imagined that women with clean pasts were more loved and favored by God, while women with dirty pasts were loved until they messed up again. At the tender age of 20, after giving my virginity to a manipulative, immature, unbelieving man, I grievously removed my “clean” label and remorsefully labeled myself “dirty”. With my twisted perspective of God’s love, you could only imagine how detrimental and devastating this was for my relationship with Christ. That label stuck with me for YEARS!!
I remember attending several church events and services, repenting my heart out, hoping the “dirty” label would leave me. I tried to do as many good things as possible to remove it but my mind still held on to it for dear life. It wasn’t until about 4 years later that I understood why that “dirty” label still loomed over me. It was because I was still ashamed of my past.
You see in order to be set free from the guilt of your past, you have to BELIEVE that God has forgiven you and has given you a fresh start. I had a very hard time believing that God would clear my slate by be simply confessing and repenting. I felt like I had to do some great act of kindness to earn His forgiveness. After years of hearing the gospel, I finally began to understand God’s grace and mercy. However, even after believing, I still had to fight off Satan’s lies that said I was defined by the mistakes I’ve made.
I want to walk you through some practices I developed and scriptures I held on to that helped me to BELIEVE I was who God says I am and also gave me the grit to resist the enemy when he accused me.
- I Confessed my doubt: You can’t overcome your past if you lie to yourself about the fact that you’re holding on to it. I met with God every evening and told Him every struggle I faced during the day that made me feel guilty or accused. I cried to Him and told Him to help me believe that I was a new creation. I asked him to help me see me the way he does. I told Him that I felt insecure and embarrassed; that I doubted he loved me past my mistakes. I WAS HONEST ABOUT MY DOUBTS. He knew what was on our mind anyway, so why try to hide it. In doing these things we admit our constraints and invite God into our struggles. Once God steps in, there is no dark shadowy place he won’t light up with His grace.
- I wrote lists about what the Bible says about me: After years of teaming up with Satan to talk down about myself, I had to really be intentional if I wanted to change the narrative in my mind. I began to desperately search the scriptures to find out what God wrote about me. I bought journals and started listing out everything that said I was forgiven, loved, valued, predestined, chosen, etc. I even made cue cards and stored them in my purse. Every time negative thoughts swarmed my mind, I pulled out my cards or opened up my lists and fought back. You have to replace Satan’s lies with God’s truth.
- I learned from women with a similar story: There’s nothing like admiring someone’s great accomplishments only to find out they came from the same place as you. I started to search for women who had overcome the same struggles as me and I applied some of their practices to my life. Some of their advice worked perfectly and some, not so much. The point was I wasn’t just listening to my own thoughts, but that of women wiser and more experienced than I. Now, make sure you discern the people you want to follow. If they attend your church, watch them to see if they live what they peach. If they do, learn from them. If they don’t, pray for them.
- I resisted the Devil: This is key. Satan will tempt you. He’ll try to draw you back into the sins of your past. One major reason people aren’t set free from the sins of their past is because those sins are still PRESENT. That was another issue I had. I kept eating what I vomited out and was surprised when I got sick again (metaphor). Then I learned to resist the devil’s temptations and reject opportunities to sin. We resist Satan by rebuking him in Jesus’ name and also by simply saying NO when he suggests a certain sin to us. Here are some practical ways to reject opportunities to sins:
- Change your surroundings. Don’t keep clubbing and partying if sex and drinking is your weakness. Join a small group, a book club, a gym. Anything that substitutes bad behavior with something positive.
- Stay off social media. If scrolling down timelines makes you insecure to the point of suicide, please log out or freeze your account. Start taking care of your mental and emotional health. Get a counselor or accountability partner.
- Develop a prayer schedule. There are some past habits and lifestyle choices that take great commitment to overcome. For example, homosexuality or satanism. For situations like these, a daily prayer schedule is key. We have to keep our minds renewed in order to drive out those dark spirits. Choose a time to sit, uninterrupted, before God. Worship Him, praise Him and then speak your requests. THEN HEAR BACK FROM HIM. Make sure you are conversing with God daily. He will guide you to the right communities of people, the right resources for success and ultimately His kingdom in Heaven.
Here are some scriptures I held on to when Satan constantly accused me because of my past.
Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which began a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and clense us of all unrighteousness.
Proverbs 28:13-14 People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy. Blessed are those who fear to do wrong, but the stubborn are headed for serious trouble.
Romans 6:6 For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
James 4:7 Submit yourself to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Luke 10:19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ; he is a new creation. The old has passed away: behold all things have become new.
Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
2 Corinthians 10:3-5 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.