Old Photographs

“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone the new has come!”  2 Corinthians 5:17

No long ago I ran across some old photos of myself when I was much younger.  I laid them out in the progression of ages from about 3 to my high school years, watching myself grow taller, with a variety of hair styles and some really strange fashion sense.  There’s the year I first began to wear glasses, and my “purple season,” and the year I grew so fast, my Mom had to sew trim onto the hem of my pants for added length.  I smiled at the parade of old friends, and grimaced at some of my old boyfriends (oh what was I thinking!).  I began to study my face through the years, chubby cheeks giving way to more defined features.  Then I focused on my eyes.  If the eyes are the window of the soul, then somewhere between 10 and 15, my soul became filled with confusion and pain and my eyes revealed a sadness that was reflected in my expression and my stance.   The girl in those later photos took on a darker, more withdrawn spirit.  Pictures gave way to memories of being hurt by others and by my own choices.  I was being drawn back into those old photographs.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t like reminders of my past – I tend to bristle at memories of being hurt and of my own rebellion and selfishness and sin.  Glancing up into the mirror on my dresser, I thought how much I physically looked like the girl in the pictures, but I no longer recognized those eyes. God spoke to my spirit, “That is because that’s not who you are anymore. Now you are mine.”

Paul wrote in his letters, “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world. (Ephesians 2:1-2)  He gives a list of sinful and wicked behaviors in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, and says, “That is what you were. (1 Corinthians 6:11)” In Ephesians 5:8 Paul says, “You were once darkness…”  Paul is coloring in the darkness of his readers’ past in order to highlight the contrast when he says but now…you are light in the Lord.”  He is painting a before and after portrait.  “You were once…but now you are.”  Like God’s message to me, Paul is saying, “You were dead in sin and rebellion and selfishness. But that is not who you are anymore.  Now you are in Christ.”

One of Satan’s favorite ploys is to assault us with our past, to tell us that we will always be who we were and there is no point in trying to resist those old familiar sins.  “You know deep down, you still want it.  You haven’t changed. You are bound to your past.  You are bound to me.”  But if you belong to Jesus Christ, Satan has no authority over you. You are free from your past; you are free to choose not to give in to sin.  You are a child of light, purified from all your sins (1 John 1: 7).  Where you were once bound to your sin, you are now bound up in God’s love.

In Philippians 3:13, Paul gives us the secret to walking in our new identity when he says, “one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on…”  We can forget what is behind because “as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:12)” If only we could understand that because Jesus Christ has completely removed all our transgressions; our old sinful desires have no authority over us any longer.  .

Look at yourself in the mirror.  You are a new creation in Christ.  You have light in your eyes, and God’s love shines on your face.  You are free to choose all the wonderful things God has planned for you.  You are no longer bound to a painful, sinful past. You are not who you once were.  Now you are His.

Holy Father, You have claimed me for Your own.  I am a new creation in Christ.  I am forgiven and free. I am Yours.  Amen.

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