December 28, 2021

Leaving the Past Behind in Christ

Written by Shana Schutte

Who you were is not who you are, and who you are is not who you will be.”

Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – December 28, 2021

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14

When I came to Christ, I remember hearing an enthusiastic preacher say, “God has a great plan for your life!” As a young woman and a new believer desperate for direction and longing for positive change, I envisioned a clear path with easy understanding of what I should do in every area of life. As it is for everyone, this has—obviously—not been the case. Additionally, I also was unaware of other blessings of my new life in Christ, including that knowing Him would mean He would make me new and help me leave the ungodliness of my past behind. 

Before Paul’s new life in Christ started in a blinding moment on the road to Damascus, he was a self-righteous Jew bent on persecuting Christians. He dragged them out of their houses and even watched as Stephen was stoned for his profession of faith. (Acts 7:54-8:2)

I can’t imagine the guilt Paul could have carried and the self-condemnation he could have languished under after coming to the Lord. But instead of focusing on the past, who he was and what he had done, he believed that Christ had called him to a new purpose. He knew that he had been changed and that he was not who he had been. His transformative experience with the Savior enabled him to leave the past behind and press on to the goal to win the prize (Philippians 3:14). He knew that being new in Christ meant becoming a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). This meant he could leave guilt behind, too. He was forgiven. He was renewed. He was redeemed.

I read a meme on Facebook recently that said, “So many people from your past know a version of you that doesn’t exist anymore.”

How glorious it is that when Christ comes to save us, He doesn’t just give us Heaven. He transforms us into more of who we have been created to be for His glory and our good. Our spirits are immediately transformed and changed, and our souls (mind, will, and emotions) will continue to be changed until we go Home to glory. 

For this reason, our pasts do not have to hold us down. They don’t need to define who we are any longer—even if others know a version of us that does not exist anymore. When Paul was converted, people who had known him as a vicious persecutor of the faith, heard that He was a follower of Christ, but they were still afraid of him. It’s understandable that they didn’t trust Him. 

This didn’t stop him from fulfilling the mission Christ had given him. He knew who he was and he knew who he belonged to, so he pressed on to fulfill his calling.

Imagine if he had been so plagued with guilt that he focused on the past and could not let it go. He would not have been able to complete the mission that Christ gave him.

Sometimes in our lives, even after we have accepted Christ and the Lord is holding out a new vision and purpose for us and He has promised that we are not who we were, we still feel so much guilt that we can’t let go of who we once were. This can keep us trapped from fulfilling the fullness of our calling in Christ. Paul is an example that no matter what we have done, even if we have hurt Christ himself and his followers, or the people we love the most, that the Lord can still use it for good.

Remember, who you were is not who you are, and who you are is not who you will be. You have been redeemed, and Christ will continually be transforming you from glory to glory until you go Home. For these reasons, and because of His deep love for you, you can leave your past behind. May this be an encouragement to you as you start the new year.

“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 wilderness and streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:18-19).


Lord, thank you that I am a new creation in you, and you are continuing to redeem all parts of my life and past. Thank you that I no longer need to be plagued by guilt. Amen.


Are you allowing others to define you according to who you used to be when you know you have changed? If so, is this keeping you stuck in guilt or some other ungodly emotion? Have you taken time to consider all the ways the Lord has changed you over the years? If not, take a moment to make a list of how He has transformed you. Also, take a moment and ask the Lord to transform you in specific ways in the new year.

Related Reading

1 John 1:9; Galatians 2:20-22; Luke 9:62

Worship Resource

Hillsong Worship:  My Redeemer Lives


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