For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39
Did you notice something there? Did did the writer leave anything out?
The Present? – No (‘things present’ is there).
The Future? – No (‘things to come’ is there).
THE PAST? Yes. The past is missing in the two verses.
The past can separate us from the love of God. The past is the only thing that can sever the love of God from accomplishing its perfect work in one’s life.
The Apostle Paul, the writer of the above two verses, knew a thing or two about the past, and much of it he wished he could forget. Let’s look into this a little bit further.
The Mind and The Conscience
Paul wrote more about the mind and the conscience than any other writer of the New Testament. Before his conversion, Paul was known by his Hebrew name, Saul, the fervent persecutor of the church. He was responsible for putting mothers and fathers in jail, and even put to death. He also tempted believers to deny the Lord and blaspheme his name.
It is quite likely when he ministered in synagogues sons and daughters were present who were orphaned, and women who were widowed, because of the persecution he leveled against the Christian church. His sordid past undoubtedly stared him right in the face on more than one occasion.
This writer of Romans knew about a past filled with regret and remorse. And that is a very heavy weight for anyone to bear. Paul’s epistles contain all but 4 of the 31 times the word ‘conscience’ is mentioned in the scriptures. Paul had a lot to say about the conscience.
Why? Our conscience has a tremendous influence not only in this life, but also in our eternity (remember the Biblical account of the rich man and poor Lazarus?). Paul knew all about a conscience and he carried the load of that weight on his shoulders throughout his life. He never forgot where the Lord had brought him from. It is good to think like that.
The somewhat condescending nature Paul embraced bled into his thought patterns. This in turn caused his epistles to reveal a writer as someone who lived with a heightened sense of awareness of the human conscience. Interspersed throughout Paul’s writings we see a man who lays bare his inner man and shows a hurt deep down inside that he could never dismiss.
We read scriptures such as:
This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. I Timothy 1:15
And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.
For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
But by the grace of God I am what I am….. I Corinthians 15:8-10
The phrase “born out of due time” is actually the translation of a Greek word used only one time in the New Testament – ektrōma. Ektroma means ‘a wound’, an ‘untimely birth’, a ‘miscarriage’ (abortion).
Paul is literally saying that he considers his life, in comparison to Jesus’ other esteemed acquaintances and intimate companions, a mistake, an aberration, a birth gone awry.
Why make such a fuss over the conscience? Because the conscience is a major player in spiritual growth. One cannot grow spiritually, mature or allow the Lord to build the level of perfection He desires into our lives if our conscience is out of kilter and misaligned. In fact, one just simply cannot effectively operate in any kind of spiritual capacity if a past lurking in the background is birthing a mercurial conscience:
And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men. Acts 24:16
There are men and women who formerly held responsible positions in the church, pastors, pastor’s wives, Sunday school teachers, or just everyday normal people who may have never set foot in a church who are separated from their healing by God’s love. Why? How?
Because of their past. A past that will not let them go. A past that separates them from God’s healing love.
Let’s start with the ‘numero uno’, the big enchilada that stumps us the biggest and is the wrecking ball of our past, the ‘S’ word – SIN.
When you start to make a move towards God you will have to face the ‘S’ word. Jesus has us covered on that one:
Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him.
But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.
For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. Hebrews 2:8-10
Our sins and our PAST can be ‘put under’ and put away by the blood of Jesus Christ. There is more.
Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. Isaiah 1:18
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. John 3:17
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Acts 2:38
Looking Past the Past
In conclusion, the only way one can be separated from the love of God is for that separation to be generated internally, not externally, by that person. If such a force exists it must be of an internal origin, a space of time known as the past.
In fact, Jesus eludes to this space in Luke 9:62:
And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
By looking at things we leave behind, things in the past, we disqualify ourselves from doing kingdom business.
Is your past holding you back? If Jesus gave Paul the healing he needed to become a champion and powerful messenger of the love and grace of Jesus Christ to a dark and sinful world, He can do the same for you.