Have you ever heard the phrase, “let bygones be bygones”? I’ve heard it in movies and TV shows, usually when the protagonist teams up with someone and they get over some previous squabble to move ahead with a plot.
These are always cool moments in movies, but they are even better in real life. Because I am human, I have wronged many people in my life, from family, friends, and even my wife. I think that can be said about all of us. We are not perfect and we must interact with each other every day. But when we ask for forgiveness, we can learn and move on with our day.
When it comes to God, however, I believe that sometimes we think that God remembers all our faults and, as a result, we must prove ourselves to Him. I remember when I was a young Christian, I used to approach prayer with shame, not really knowing if God would listen to me because I felt so embarrassed of the dreadful things I had done. I have talked to people who don’t go to church because they believe they are beyond saving. I’ve heard them say, “Oh, I can’t go to church. I’ve done too many bad things.” You might know somebody like this, or maybe this is you.
When the prophet Ezekiel spoke to the people of God, he had a lot to say about sin. In chapter 18 of his book, we read the following:
“But if the wicked person turns from all the sins he has committed, keeps all my statutes, and does what is just and right, he will certainly live; he will not die.” – Ezekiel 18:21 CSB
This chapter has a lot to do with personal responsibility for our sins, but this verse stands out. It gives us hope. It gave hope to those who knew that they were wicked, or those who are being told by Ezekiel that they were doing wicked things. God provided a way out of their sinful nature. God gave them hope.
This chapter in Ezekiel deals with the sins of parents and the sins of children. God makes it clear that every generation will be responsible for their own actions. I believe this also gives us hope today.
Personally speaking, my family bloodline is not a clean one. I come from a line of liars, rebels, and even criminals. That doesn’t mean that I am destined for these things. Through the blood of Jesus, I am free to make my own decisions and I will be held responsible for those decisions.
We see this generational-sin mindset occur again in the New Testament, specifically in John, chapter 9:
His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” Jesus answered. “This came about so that God’s works might be displayed in him.” – John 9:2-3 CSB
Once again, the decisions of previous generations do not have to continue with us, but it is our personal decisions that can stop those generational sins, habits, or tendencies.
I love the story above because it shows the human nature inside all of us. We see something wrong and we quickly try to make sense of it. When the disciples ask Jesus who is responsible for this person being blind, they just want to know who to blame, maybe even to have pity on the person. But Jesus is interested in showing His glory. Jesus is interested in changing the narrative. Jesus is interested in changing our perspective and getting us to understand that we can change our surroundings.
Jesus offers you a clean slate today. If previous decisions are holding you back, or you think you are stuck due to decisions that were made prior to your birth, let me tell you that God is interested in a fresh start for you. You do not have to be defined by your bloodline, or by the actions of your previous generations. You certainly don’t have to continue with certain beliefs that may not be correct. We all have some traditions that are good and others that are not so good. With Jesus Christ, we can start fresh and experience a new life with Him today.
Mauricio Paredes is Junior High Pastor at Koinonia Church in Hanford, CA. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 559-582-1528.