Overcoming the past

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. – Ephesians 2:10

Ephesians 2:4-10

 4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much,

 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)

 6 For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.

 7 So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are in Christ Jesus.

 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;

 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Our past is not an impediment to our present, nor will it be to our future.

Have you ever wondered what the Father thinks of you? How does He view your life? Do you worry that He sees your flaws, mistakes, and the failure of your past life and perhaps loves you less? Not to worry! The Father knows everything there is to know about you. His knowledge is complete and total. He loves you completely, just the way you are. You are His unfinished masterpiece, a work in progress, His workmanship of grace and love. You are His work of art. Your canvas is unfinished. He continues to paint the strokes of your life so that, in the end, you will bring Him honor and great esteem.

By the Father’s loving grace, we are created in the image of Christ. Though our lives remain on the canvas, the Father has seen the finished portrait. His eternal eyes know precisely where we need His attention. Every frustration, every disappointment, and every joy have a purpose (Romans 8:28) (Stanley).

The apostle Paul tells us that we are the Father’s workmanship, work of art, and ultimately His eternal showpiece. The Father has made us what we are and will become (UBS).

The term workmanship is a translation of the Greek word poieme. The English word poem comes from this word. It refers to a work of art. Each child of the King is the Father’s work of art. But none of us is finished. The Father is continually shaping our lives to produce exactly what He intends. His omniscient mind has an eternal blueprint of exactly what we are to become.

Often the process is not pleasant, but the ultimate result will be beautiful and worthy of praise and bring honor to Him. He chips away with the precise portrait of the completed work in view. All praise will belong to the Father alone. He is the divine potter; we are the clay. Rather than complain, or ask why or how long, a simple “ouch” will suffice, including an acknowledgment that our loving Father knows exactly what He is doing.


As we seek to know our purpose, the question becomes, what has the Father created us to be and do?  

Father sometimes when You handle me, it hurts. Help me to realize You are working from an eternal blueprint and be grateful.


Ultimately the Father is in the redemption business! He takes the raw materials of our lives and crafts and remodels them to produce a superb masterpiece. By His grace, we are transformed from the inside out. 

This is a remarkable idea, a difficult concept to grasp. Our lives are undoubtedly ragged and incomplete as we are. But the Father has a totally different perspective. He sees the end result from the beginning. He sees the finished work of art we will become.

When our Father sees our lives, He sees His beloved adopted children of great worth and promise. He is patiently molding and shaping our lives. What is His end game? In a word, Christ! He is making us like Christ.

Romans 8:29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son.

God is love; sin is, therefore, a crime, not against law, but against love. Now, it is possible to make atonement for a broken law. But it is impossible to make atonement for a broken heart. Sin is not so much breaking the Father’s law as it is breaking Father’s heart (Barclay).

Reflect for a moment. Why do we sin? It is part of our fallen nature. Because we are fallen creatures, sin has become part of our fallen DNA. We commit sins because we are sinful. The Lord Jesus Christ died not only for my sins, He also died for my sin, my sin nature which defies and breaks the heart of God.

To explain this consider a crude and imperfect analogy. Suppose a motorist, by careless driving, kills a child. The driver is arrested, tried, found guilty, and sentenced to a term of imprisonment and a fine. After the fine has been paid and the prison sentence served, as far as the law is concerned, the whole matter is over. But it is very different regarding the mother whose child was killed. The driver can never put things right with her by serving a term of imprisonment and paying a fine. The only thing which can restore that relationship with her is an act of free forgiveness on her part (Barclay).

“That is the way we are to God. It is not against God’s laws that we have sinned, it is against his heart. And therefore only an act of free forgiveness of the grace of God can put us back into the right relationship with him” (Barclay).

But there is more. A great paradox lies at the heart of being saved by grace through faith and not by works. Before we are saved by grace, all the good works in the world cannot put us right with God. Yet once saved, the children of the King are re-created by the Father to live and act in an entirely new way. We are intended to perform awesome works for Him. What irony.

“There is nothing mysterious about this. It is simply an inevitable law of love. If some fine person loves us, we know that we do not and cannot deserve that love. At the same time, we know with utter conviction that we must spend our lives trying to be worthy of it.”

“That is our relationship to God. We know what God wants us to do; God has prepared long beforehand the kind of life he wants us to live and has told us about it in his book and through his Son. We cannot earn God’s love, but we can and must show how grateful we are for it, by seeking with our whole hearts to live the kind of life that will bring joy to God’s heart” (Barclay).

How do we overcome the past? Whether we know it or not, holding onto the past is often a conscious decision. By the same token letting go of the past and moving on is also an act of the will. At a point in time, we decide to let go.

2 Corinthians 5:14 The love of Christ constrains us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life.


© Dr. H 2023

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