by Calven Celliers
Hyperthymestic syndrome is “…a condition that leads people to be able to remember an abnormally large number of their life experiences in vivid detail. Two defining characteristics of hyperthymesia are spending an excessive amount of time thinking about one’s past, and displaying an extraordinary ability to recall specific events from one’s past.”
While I’ve never met anyone suffering from hyperthymesia, I do know a lot of people, myself included, who are consciously or subconsciously prisoners to a few memories of their own. I’m talking about the bondage that many live with regarding sins and failures of the past, that have been forgiven, and should have been forgotten, but have not been severed.
Unless we’re moving forward, we’re losing ground. Living is all about progressing, moving on, and pressing forward. But you can’t see the road ahead if you’re constantly looking over your shoulder at where you have been; sooner or later you’re going to land up in a ditch. For many of us, the biggest problem with moving forward is that we keep looking back. In the words of Pumba the warthog from Disney’s Lion King, “You’ve got to put your behind in your past.”
Often when I think of the apostle Paul, I think of somebody who is larger than life. I see him standing up and defending his faith in front of the Roman governors and even the emperor. I remember his great missionary journey all over the Roman empire. We read his letters as he instructs the churches to be faithful, and as he encourages Timothy and Titus to remain true to their calling. Probably most of us have put Paul on quite a pedestal.
But when you read Romans 7, you get a sneak peek into the fact that the apostle Paul is a lot more human than we might have first thought. He is a fellow struggler. He is honest enough to recognize within himself a tendency to get caught in the clutches of sin.
“18 And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. 19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway… 24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.”
(Romans 7: 18 – 19, 24 & 25NLT)
This is not Paul talking about the way he used to be sinful before he became a Christian. This is Paul saying, “Just this morning, I gave in again.” This is Paul saying “I struggle with sin, and sometimes I lose.”
You see the problem is that the devil will not give up without a fight, and one of the greatest challenges about walking in forgiveness is dealing with his underhanded tactic called condemnation. In Revelation 12:10 we read that Satan always stands ready to accuse us. His objective is to weigh us down with condemnation, with the intention to cause us to live under a spirit of failure. Satan is so deceitful and one of the tools he uses to rob us of the joy of our salvation is to cause us to remember what we should forget and forget what we should remember. As a result, we get bogged down in the negative things that produce guilt in us instead of focusing on the victory that Christ won on our behalf. While we need to learn from our past mistakes, we should in no way to be defined by them.
There is an important distinction between conviction and condemnation. Conviction is when you feel bad for a sin that has not yet been confessed. The Holy Spirit loves us so much that He is not going to let us dwell in places that are going to ultimately hurt us, and so He convicts us until we come to that point when we confess the sin and turn from our wicked ways. Condemnation on the other hand is feeling guilt over confessed sin. It is from the accuser as he seeks to remind us of everything we have ever done wrong, causing the memory of our confessed sins to produce guilt instead of gratitude for the forgiveness that we have received in Christ. You see if he can get you to live in past guilt, then you don’t live in the present reality of the full victory that was accomplished on your behalf over 2,000 years ago.
Have a blessed day,