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Think Back to go Forward

Ephesians 2:1-3
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 and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. (NIVUK)

"Yesterday's news is dead", said an editor. He was right. The normal dynamic of business life works in the same way - 'never mind yesterday, get on with tomorrow'. There is wisdom in that; even the Apostle Paul said, "Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead ..." (Philippians 3:13). Being bound to the past is the route to failure. Yet ignoring where you have come from is arrogance, the route to ingratitude and making the same mistakes again. It is said that 'History repeats itself', simply because we refuse to learn the lessons of yesterday. Indeed, the whole process of education is to learn from what happened before, so that we can build on our knowledge to make wiser decisions in the future.

It is only as Christians recall what Christ has saved us from that we develop that essential humility without which learning is impossible. However as we see the depths to which we have sunk and the magnitude of our salvation, we have good reasons for being thankful for what He has done for us – a spur to move on in gratitude and confidence and resist the pull of temptation which would make us backslide. The truth is that what many people consider to be 'normal life' – without God and without hope (Ephesians 2:12) – is a dead loss. The devil and his agents have led the world into a lifeless future. That is where we all started, hungry to satisfy ourselves (1 John 2:16) but incapable of saving ourselves.

Before Jesus came into our lives, we were spiritually dead, and unresponsive to God. We followed the crowd like sheep because we did not know any better. At the same time we were being manipulated into serial disobedience by Satan (the ruler of the kingdom of the air), and our lustful cravings were never satisfied. Our thoughts and actions were always pulling us down. From God's point of view, we were fit only for condemnation. Our 'yesterdays' were indeed deadly news.

In the next few verses, this sober assessment of our past will be contrasted by what God has done for us in Christ, and how much we have changed. But what is the point of remembering those dark days? Firstly, to stimulate our gratitude: and secondly to help us to understand that many others around us at work and in the community are still in the dark. They often do not know what to think or how best to act. They are consumed by their own thoughts and cannot get out of the holes they dig for themselves and others. They rightly feel that all may not be well between them and God. So, as well as giving thanks for our salvation, we should pray for our friends; and help them to understand that they will only be able to find the life that they need with Jesus' help.

Dear Lord. When I think of what my life was like before I knew You, I am amazed at what You have done for me. Please forgive me for the times when I go back to that way of life, forgetting what You have done for me. But seeing it again I am grateful: thank You so much for Your grace and mercy! It makes me realise how much You want to do for my colleagues and friends. Help me to live gratefully and joyfully, and please speak to my friends too. I am willing for You to use my mouth so that they can hear. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams