Even the apostle Paul faced this struggle; he said he was “chief of sinners,” (1 Timothy 1:15-16) in part because he knew he had a terrible past. He had persecuted the first Christians and tried his best to ruin their lives. But God showed him mercy. And this same Paul said he was confident nothing could separate him or us from God’s love (Romans 8:38-39). If Paul can remember that kind of life and be confident of God’s love for him, think of what that means for us.
There are a couple of very important things to remember here, things that can help us as weapons against the enemy bringing up our past; it is a fight, we must keep that in mind. The enemy roams about looking for someone to devour, and he heaps condemnation on us. But what’s the truth? “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ” (Romans 8:1). Anything that brings our past to us to disqualify us is a lie. And we need to take those thoughts captive to obey the truth of Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). What we need to remember to fight those lies are who we are and Jesus’ finished work. And we have to learn to wield the sword of the word every time these thoughts rear their head until our enemies learn to leave us alone about it and our minds learn a new way of thinking, being renewed.
If we trust Jesus, God has given us a new identity, that of a beloved son that He’s pleased with. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, behold the new has come” (2 Cor 5:17). We are baptized into Christ’s death so our old identity dies, and baptized into his resurrection so a new man rises up (Romans 6). And that new man is clean, washed by the pure water of the Spirit. That man is righteous and good because Jesus is, and Jesus became our sin that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor. 5:21). If Jesus became our sin and nailed it to the cross, then the enemy has nothing to touch us with (Col. 2:13-15). We can memorize some of these truths and use them anytime those thoughts come, and we can begin to believe and live out of a new identity, enjoying the freedom Christ bought for us.