When God gives us a new heart, he implores us not to look back! There’s nothing back in our past that we need. Our present in Christ offers us the hope and assurance that nothing in our past could. Our future in Christ has so much more for us to eagerly anticipate. Out with the old, and in with the new.
There’s a story in the Bible that illustrates what can happen if we don’t seize the opportunity God gives us to escape the ugliness of a sinful past. Abraham’s nephew, Lot, and his family had settled in the city of Sodom. A place Lot had chosen to live because it looked fertile and lush. But looks can be deceiving. The Bible says that the people of this area were “extremely wicked and constantly sinned against the Lord.” (Genesis 13:13) Unfortunately, Lot had set himself up for trouble by choosing to settle in this area. Often times, we do the same sort of thing when we put ourselves in places or situations where sin abounds.
Fast forward a few years. Lot and his family were settled, now. They hadn’t gotten completely sucked in to the “flagrant sin” (Genesis 18:20) that abounded – but they hadn’t exactly distanced themselves from it, either.
Finally, God decided it was time for judgment – and he gave Lot and his family a chance to escape. But he wanted them to hurry. (Genesis 19:15) Not to drag their feet and wait until they were “ready”. I love that the Bible shows us how God stepped in when Lot dragged his feet.
When Lot still hesitated, the angels seized his hand and the hands of his wife and two daughters and rushed them to safety outside the city, for the Lord was merciful. Genesis 19:16 NLT
Amen! The Lord is merciful. His full mercy was shown in Christ on the cross. And when God calls us to him, and by his grace we come to know the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal savior, he is in a way seizing our hands and rushing us to safety. Getting us out of the eternal judgment that a life of sin leads to and into the hope of eternity with him.
But the story doesn’t end there. After being rushed to safety, Lot and his family were warned: “Run for your lives! And don’t look back…” (Genesis 19:17) But unfortunately, Lot’s wife couldn’t help herself. She couldn’t leave the ugliness of the place she left without one more glance.
But Lot’s wife looked back…and she turned into a pillar of salt. (Genesis 19:26)
How many times do we look back on a sinful life we’ve left behind and quickly get sucked back in, only to have it destroy us? How many times are we tricked into repeating our foolishness? Or as The Message translates one of the proverbs – how many times do we “recycle silliness”? (Proverbs 26:11) It’s not always easy to walk away. Temptations are always around, and often the closer we become with the Lord, the harder Satan works to get us back. But God didn’t save us to leave us all alone. It’s quite the opposite. All he asks us to do is to trust him. To let him be in the driver’s seat. He will offer us a way out when we’re tempted.
No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to come through it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 MSG
Much like someone trying to overcome an addiction needs a support group –we need Jesus! And the only way to ensure that we don’t “get tangled up and enslaved by sin again” (2 Peter 2:20) is to keep our eyes fixed on him.
…let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily traps us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Hebrews 12:1-2 NLT
They have made God’s law their own, so they will never slip from his path. Psalm 37:31 NLT