I’ve been looking through some photographs from back in the day, and I think it’s amazing how they take you back in time. You can almost feel and taste what it was like to be in that moment. They show us who we were back then, what we looked like, and so on. Some of those memories are precious; some are not so precious. I have to say, some of the haircuts were mental, not to mention the clothes! Some of you reading this blog could no doubt pull out a few belters of photographs, too.
Ephesians 2:2 gives us a photograph of exactly what we looked like before we met Jesus: ‘... in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.’
Paul, the man who wrote these words, was reminding believers of what they were like before the radical, life-changing power of God had touched their lives. It’s almost like he’s diving into the photo album of their lives and digging out a photo from their past. He holds it up in the air, saying, ‘Take a look at this. Do you remember how your life looked back then?’ Sometimes, it’s good to take a look back to remind ourselves how much God has done for our lives and how far He’s brought us. Doing this fills us with gratitude to God. It keeps us grounded and humble, and makes us appreciate our new life in Christ.
Paul says, ‘Back then... you walked according to the course of this world.’ This really means ‘to walk habitually in one area’. It describes someone who is walking a path that they simply can’t change. They are trapped, bound and locked; they can’t get off the path by themselves. We often hear people saying stuff like ‘I’m going round in circles’, ‘I feel like I’m stuck on the hamster wheel of life’, or ‘I don’t think I could ever change’.
This is especially true in the life of a drug addict. You resign yourself to the fact that you’ll always be hooked, that you’ll never shake the habit, that you’ll always have to rely on a bag of gear, a rock in a pipe, or a script from the doctor. I can remember what this was like when I was a heroin addict. I went about my days like a skeleton, thinking there was no hope for me. I believed the lie of the enemy, that there was no way out of the prison of my addiction. But that wasn’t the end of the story!
Paul says in this verse that that’s how things were, but that’s not how things are now. That’s not who you are today. He says, ‘But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus’. Those two words—but God—totally flip the script of our lives and turn our mess into a message!
In life, there will always be those ‘back then’ people who will try to hold you hostage to your past, who will never be happy to see you make progress. They’ll remind you of mistakes you made or situations where you blew it double deluxe style. But that’s okay! All you need to say is ‘but God. That’s not who I am any more’. The enemy of our souls will remind us of who we were ‘in time past’. He’ll hold that photo up, accusing and condemning us. That’s when we’ll say, ‘but God!’
Maybe you feel trapped, bound and walking on a path you can’t seem to get off. I want to encourage you today; there is hope in Jesus! He alone has the power to get you off that track and onto a new one with Him. Then, if anyone holds up that photo from your past life, He will give you the confidence to stand up and say ‘But God! That’s not who I am anymore!’
Kenny is an ex-addict who comes from Fraserburgh, in North East Scotland. Kenny has spent years managing drug rehab centres and has a wealth of experiences. This year, he will be one of our speakers at Fixed ’17.