“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined He also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” Romans 8:28
Not every Christian that has ever experienced some form of “soul-death” as the result of someone else’s sin needs to embrace the cross for the sake of emotional healing. Some people are instantaneously and miraculously delivered from the death-effects that result from the sins of abuse, neglect, and mistreatment. God delivers some of His people instantly from the death-effects of past sins, and He delivers some of His people progressively from the death-effects of past sins. Either way, God delivers all of His children from the power of sin and death. If you are not presently suffering any negative, painful results from some issue in your past- Praise the Lord! No need to go digging up things that God graciously buried in the tomb of Christ nearly 2,000 years ago.
However, if our relationships with God are being negatively affected by some issues in our pasts, then we need to deal with those issues. We do this by honestly acknowledging the sins that we have committed, the sins that were committed against us, and the different dimensions of death in our souls that resulted from those sins. In this way, we begin to appropriate what Christ did for us in His cross-death. In like manner, we also need to accept the painful realities associated with those sins and the different dimensions of death that occurred in our souls as a result of them. It is in this way that we begin to appropriate what Christ did for us in His burial. Both acknowledgment and acceptance of the realities of sin and death are necessary parts of experiencing the healing power of God in resurrection. If we want to be raised to walk in newness of life in Christ, we need to come to grips with both the reality and the finality of sin and death.
The question, then, is how does one do that? How does one come to grips with or make peace terms with the sins of devastating betrayals, destructive abuses, or humiliating violations? Or, in other words, how does one “move on”? How does a person “let go and let God”? How does a person accept the actions and consequences of the past, when those actions and consequences are very bad? Well, Biblically speaking, there is only one way to do any of these things, and that way is by trusting God.
We can accept the past and its deadly consequences by entrusting the past to God. We can come to grips with the death-effects of the sins that were committed against us, by trusting that God sovereignly ordained those sins and their death-effects into our lives- for His own purposes. We can “move-on” by believing and owning the powerful reality that God is sovereign over all of our death. We can “let go and let God” by owning the truth that God is now and always has been in control of our lives.
The Bible is clear that God is sovereign over all of life and all of death (Ezekiel 12:28; Matthew 7:25-33, 10:29; Acts 4:24; Revelation 6:10). To say that God is sovereign, is to say that God has unrestricted power, absolute domination, that He has no limitations and that there are no restraints upon Him. As Christians, we know that God is sovereign. Even so, if we are going to accept the negative consequences that emotionally traumatizing sins can have in our lives, we are going to need to rest in the sovereignty of God (not just have a mental awareness or an abstract understanding of what it means that God is sovereign).
We will need to make a conscious, willful decision to entrust ourselves to God- by trusting that the deaths that resulted from the sins that were committed against us were ordained into our lives for our good and God’s glory. We will need to trust that God was in control of all the events of our lives (even the bad ones) and that He ordered them to the end that, through them, we would be more gloriously conformed into the image and likeness of His Son, Jesus. In other words, we have to trust that God can and will use all the wrong doing which we have experienced to sanctify us and make us more like the Lord than we would be, had we never suffered any of the effects of sin or death.
Trusting that God orchestrated or ordained all the events of our lives- even the bad ones- for our good is not as hard to do as one might think. For, to varying degrees, God may have already used the sins that were committed against us and their ensuing death-effects for our good and His glory. This is the case if God has used any of the sins or death-effects in our lives to cause us to recognize our need for Christ. That is probably the greatest good that any sin can bring about in any life. There are many other good blessings which result from the bad events in our lives. There is the ‘good’ of having great confidence in prayer. This ‘good’ results from having a great need for prayer; such as the need to pray that one would experience the power of the cross in resurrection for the reversal of the death-effects of sin. There is also the ‘good’ of having a clear understanding of God’s word. This ‘good’ results from needing to spend much time in God’s word; such a need results from the desire to hear God speak healing, comforting, and corrective truths. There is also the ‘good’ of having the ability to minister the love of Christ to other people who find themselves in similar circumstances to the ones from which we have come. Even the unique vulnerabilities and weaknesses that we have (as the result of the sins committed against us) are forms of ‘divine good’ that God has already worked out for us. For, weaknesses and vulnerabilities force us to rely on God’s grace. Weaknesses and vulnerabilities also force us to depend on God; to provide all that we need for walking in newness of life in Christ. By these few examples, we can see how God has already begun to cause the sin and death of the past to work out for our ‘good’. The Lord will only continue to do this good producing and God glorifying work in and through us -more and more- until we are finally and completely transformed by Him in glory.
We can willfully identify with Christ in His cross-death by acknowledging the realities of sin and death. In like manner, we can willfully identify with Christ in His burial by accepting the realities of sin and death.We can do this by resting in the sovereignty of God. Ultimately, we can accept the past- no matter what it was like- because we can trust God. We can trust God because we know that He is sovereign over all sin and death. Furthermore, we can trust God because we can see that He has already used the sin and death of our pasts to work out varying amounts of good in our lives. We can trust God because He sent Christ to identify with us in our sin, shame, and brokenness. We can trust God because we know that He loves us. Finally, we can accept our pasts and trust God because “…we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined He also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”