Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Healing Memories
Pastor Steve Schell
Romans 8:5-8
I would be surprised if anyone could grow up in this sinful world without emotional “scars.” There’s too much cruelty, selfishness, lust, anger and fear to escape. And even those who do grow up in a safe family sooner or later engage the larger society and the damage begins. Not only are we wounded when bad things are done to us, but we also end up wounded when we do bad things to others. As the years pass we become both victim and perpetrator. There are people we need to forgive, but there are also people from whom we need to beg forgiveness. And through it all our subconscious mind is recording everything. Even if we succeed in driving these thoughts out of our conscious mind they don’t disappear, they merely go “underground.” And the passing of time doesn’t heal the damage either. A lifetime can go by with the scars of childhood or youth still influencing a personality as if they happened yesterday.

So we end up carrying around toxic memories that seep their poison into our feelings, attitudes, thoughts and emotions, though we’re unaware it’s happening. A reaction today is actually a reaction to something that happened long ago. Fear, low self-esteem, depression, anger, sexual vulnerability, shame, greed, lying, etc. often have a root that’s buried in the soil of the past. And toxic memories accumulate so it’s possible to end up with so many we become unable to find peace. We think we must be crazy. We consider suicide just to get relief.

Two minds (Ro 8:5-8)
Paul contrasts two minds: the “mind of the flesh” and the “mind of the spirit” and then appeals to us to follow one and warns us of the danger of following the other. In order to do this I first have to learn to distinguish between the two and recognize which is talking to me at the moment:
1) The “mind of the flesh”: In each of us, even after we become born-again, there remains a flow of thoughts that arise not from our spirit, but from our physical brain:
• Programmed thinking: Thoughts actually produce physical pathways in our brains and the longer we think those thoughts the deeper those pathways become. It takes a concerted effort to repattern our thinking (Ro 12:2).
• The subconscious: There’s a part of our mind that records reality from our perspective (whether true or false). It doesn’t distinguish what’s real from what’s being pretended. So it’s usually full of toxic memories and distorted reality, but it constantly influences our thinking, usually without our being aware of it.
2) The “mind of the spirit”: After we’re born-again we become aware of new thoughts and feelings that present themselves to our mind. This happens much more intensely and more frequently when we’re consciously close to the Lord in worship and prayer. A new thought or attitude can suddenly envelop us and everything looks different. Hope arises, we’re sure God will answer, the right decision becomes obvious, we recognize a new option we never saw before. My spirit is now thinking God’s thoughts, it’s following after the Spirit.

Heart-Searcher (Ro 8:27)
Negative memories are a significant part of the “mind of the flesh” that Paul tells us to deal with as born-again Christians. Such memories don’t disappear when we get saved, but the One who can heal them arrives. Paul calls Him, “He who searches the hearts” and says He knows everything there (Ro 8:27). David says the same thing (Ps 139:1-6), and so does Barnabas (Heb 4:13).
• “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” (Heb 4:13).

He can heal our memories, but such healing doesn’t take place in one event. It’s a process, a walk, not a quick fix. In Romans 12:2 Paul says, “…be transformed by the renewing of the mind…” and the verb tense he chooses tells us it’s an ongoing process. He says as this “renewal” takes place we will discover and enter into God’s will for our lives.

Healing Memories
For me the process took about two years, though I still come across stray memories now and then. I recognized I needed healing and invited Him to search my heart. I put the matter totally in His hands. He brought up what He wanted, when He wanted to. Each time I responded as follows:
1) Ask the Holy Spirit to bring to remembrance those memories He knows you need to deal with, and keep back those you do not.
• “Do not induce vomiting”
• Don’t systematize this: “What happened when you were 3, 4, etc.”
• You can still feel an impact from certain memories when you think about them.
• The Holy Spirit will bring to mind memories when and where He wants to.
2) Deal with each matter biblically
• Repent
• Confess
• Forgive
• In certain cases action may be required (go, call…)
• Sit down and do this in a careful, focused way.
3) Visualize Jesus in that memory
• “See” Him in your mind
• He was present
• Don’t ask: Why did You let that happen?
• He didn’t condone the sin, He wasn’t indifferent, but He does allow awful things to happen. I think He’s given the human race far more freedom than we realize.
4) Lay hands on yourself or have someone else do it.
• You can effectively lay hands on yourself
• Pray for the memory to heal just like a physical illness
• God will remove the “poison” so it won’t effect you anymore. You can still recall the event but you no longer get the feelings when you do.

Just as our bodies may still contain illness after we’re born-again, our physical brains may still contain memories that torment us. Yet these can be healed. Some of us may already be quite whole and don’t need much of this, but some do. Some are really damaged and need to be set free. And isn’t our God wonderful, if I ask Him to, He’ll search my heart and pull out the memories that are effecting me and break their power so I can discover who I really am in Christ.

1) Sometimes God doesn’t wait for us to ask Him to heal a memory, He may draw us into a conversation with Him during worship or listening to the Word or while taking communion. Has this ever happened to you? Tell us about it.
2) Do you have an example of a healed memory you would like to share? 

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