PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE.
Whilst visiting a friend in hospital recently I saw a poster on the Notice Board. It was a fine colour photograph of a young lamb, evidently recently born, long-legged and unsteady. By looking backwards over its tail, its legs had become hopelessly tangled and it seemed ready to fall. The caption read something like this, “Looking backwards will not help you to see the way ahead.” Perhaps those who displayed the poster hoped it would encourage some of the more depressed patients in the ward. The words do express a measure of common sense but they hold no comfort for those whose depression is the result of conviction of sin. Sadly, the trouble with so many today is that their past is a sinful disaster and their future is likely to be worse. They are “without God” and consequently have “no hope” (Ephesians 2.12). The only prospect is more sin and then eternal death and, even if the whole idea of divine justice and deserved punishment for sin is angrily rejected as a decadent superstition, conscience cannot be totally silenced, still it accuses or seeks to excuse (Romans 2.15), and so many troubled people spend sad and depressed years looking back with a mixture of regret, anger, and guilt; and forward with fear and hopelessness.
If anyone is to view the past and look to the future with peace of heart and conscience, it is the present which holds the key. Simple questions need to be asked. Am I saved? Am I converted? Have I repented? Do I believe on the Lord Jesus Christ? Is He the Lord of my life? Am I made a real Christian? Are my sins forgiven? Has God blotted out all my transgressions? Has He given me new life and hope? Is the Holy Spirit now my Guide and Comforter? Such questions not only need to be asked but demand an answer.
To look back without a present “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” is to look back on unforgiven sin and condemning failure.
To look forward without the present mercy of God in Christ Jesus the Lord is to look forward into the darkness of further sin and failure and a threatening judgement at the end.
The saved sinner may look back over the darkest past and say, “I have confessed my sin; and He is faithful and just to forgive my sins, and it is still a faithful saying and still worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am chief.”
The person who now humbly trusts in the Lord can look forward and say, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which
are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit. The future is in the hands of my infinitely wise and gracious God, He will keep me from falling and present me faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy”.
The stern realities of life, death, and eternity, demand more than pretty pictures and clever words. Nothing but divine certainties and exceeding great and precious promises can minister true comfort to the soul in real need.