I sulk in dark corners, shadows of former nights cloak my very presence, and I breathe in the heaviness of sulfur and ashes. Regret is my friend, and harshly does she whisper into my ears of shame and memories of former darkness.
Surely you can’t forget this?
Why would you do that?
What were you thinking?
How could you?
Further and further into the ashes I get pushed, my face pressed hard into the ground. My lungs fill with unholy air and I struggle to breathe.
Behind me in the near distance stands the cross.
But I can’t see it.
Regret is in the way.
Too often this describes seasons or days or moments in my life. Seasons, days, and moments that should never, ever exist.
I want to address the sin of regret, and the toxic poison that it is.
What is regret? Regret is looking back and wishing something different had happened, or desiring that you hadn’t done something in your past. It’s focused on looking over your shoulder, and is why it is absolutely deadly to a believer’s life. Lately, I’ve been convicted about living in regret and even worshiping it. There’s so many things in my life I wish I had done differently, so many sins I wish I hadn’t committed, so many paths in life I wish I had never stepped onto.
But that is not of God.
Regret can seem harmless at first. You think: “Well, I made these mistakes, so I have the right to regret them. I have the right to wish I had done things differently.”
You gave up those rights when you fell at the bleeding side of your Savior and asked for him to walk with you. You no longer have the right to regret your past.
Because you gave your past to him. He took your past and forgave it, and completely forgot about it, and sees you as perfect and sanctified in him. He sees you as his pure and spotless bride.
An attitude of regret overshadows the power of the cross.
When I’m sulking in regret and stuck in my past mistakes I am not dwelling on the cross. I’m dwelling on me. See, regret is selfish.
It is concentrated on me, rather than him.
It is concentrated on what I did, rather than on what he did.
It completely neglects the cross.
If I am stuck in regret I am saying that Christ is not enough.
If Christ was enough I would be absolutely and utterly consumed with him. When I let him fill me, I leave no room for regret. If I’m filled with regret, I am not filled with him. One cancels the other out. When I regret I am saying this to Christ:
“Yeah, God, you died for me, but..”
“Yeah, God, you love me, but…”
“Yeah, God, you have given me grace, but…”
WHAT is that?
There is no such thing in the Kingdom of God.
The Kingdom is focused on the present and the future. It has no room for the past. Satan is the god of the past. He creeps around with your broken dreams, your past mistakes, and dark memories in his hands, seeking to shove them in your face to keep you from gazing at the beauty of the cross.
The cross leaves no room for the past.
When Christ said it was finished, he killed regret once and for all. He sentenced the past to death. Regret has no place in our lives as believers. It may seem harmless at first, but regret always negates the power of grace, true grace, which is fully focused on him. Regret is focused on me, grace is focused on him.
Regret is filled with shame.
The cross is filled with joy.
Regret will take you away from the power of the cross and shove you back into the mud from which Christ already lifted you out of.
To regret is to belittle the cross.
It says that the cross was not enough. The cross was not powerful enough. If we’re stuck in past regrets, we have belittled the death of our Savior. No one who is fully consumed by the cross of Christ and understands its power is stuck in regret. It’s not possible to regret anything when you understand the fullness of his grace, and the power of his blood. He bore our shame when he went to the cross. Shame is the lover of regret, and together they produce death.
It is blasphemous to regret. Regret is the enemy of Jesus. It seeks to diminish the power of his blood. May we not take this lightly. May we be children of the light, lovers of the cross, pursuers of the future, not of the past.
We press on to him.
We run a race. Runners who look back trip and fall flat on their faces.
Never look back.
Please understand me. Don’t forget where God has taken you from. That’s your testimony. And it’s powerful. Regret looks back and fills you with shame. Your testimony should look back and fill you with joy, because when you compare your past with your present, and where God has taken you, it fills you with gratefulness and fullness of joy.
Be filled with him.
The cross leaves no room for regret.
And neither should we.
“For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.”
“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”