3 Reasons Conversion Doesn’t Involve Restitution

One of the more common questions I receive as a pastor sounds like this: “What sort of restitution do I need to make for my sins after conversion? I committed all these sins before becoming a Christian, so what should I do about them now?” Here’s the most recent question I received on the subject:

Scott,
As I reflect on my past and my many sins I am more aware of how wretched and worthless I am. I am also convicted of sins I wonder If I need to undo.

For example, when I was 16 and I worked at Ross I stole clothes. I am pretty sure I don’t own any of those clothes now, nor do I know the amount or worth of what I took. However, will I go to hell if I don’t find a way to pay them back? There are so many other things I could list.

I feel like my past is like Humpty dumpty, and I can’t fix it.

Here are the three reasons I don’t believe we need to try to go back and make right all (or even some) of the sins we committed before becoming Christians…

First, restitution doesn’t need to follow conversion because there are too many sins to count.

We can’t remember all the sins we committed before becoming Christians. Even for the sins we can remember, we often don’t have the means to make restitution. Using the previously mentioned theft from Ross as an example, the person doesn’t still own the clothes, know the value, etc.

If we thought restitution should follow conversion, for most of us it would take the rest of our lives trying to make things right. My heart would really have to break for any deathbed conversions: “I want to be saved, but I don’t have the time to…” When I was saved I knew the importance of living for Christ and dealing with the sin currently in my life, but past sins are in the past. They’re paid for by Christ.

Second, restitution doesn’t need to follow conversion because Zacchaeus is descriptive, not prescriptive.

We can experience many problems in the Christian life when we look at accounts in Scripture and think we’re commanded to do the same. For example, Acts 4:32 says:

Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common.

The early church shared all their possessions and lived very communally. This is descriptive, but not prescriptive (commanded). How do you know what is descriptive versus prescriptive? Simple. Look for a command in the epistles. In this case, there is no command that our possessions be shared with all other believers.

Zacchaeus is another example. Luke 19:1-9 says:

Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, “He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.”

Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.”

And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham.”

Although Jesus commanded Zacchaeus to come down from the tree, he didn’t command him to give away half his possessions and restore fourfold. Zacchaeus chose to do this on his own, but we’not commanded to do this prior to becoming Christians.

Third, restitution doesn’t need to follow conversion because salvation involves repentance, not restitution.

Salvation involves repentance, which means turning from our sins. As a result, when we’re saved we must strive to ensure patterns of sin in our lives are broken. But nothing in Scripture says repentance also means going back and fixing the mistakes we’ve made.

If restitution was required for salvation not only could nobody be saved, salvation wouldn’t be by grace through faith. The point of the famous hymn, “Just As I Am” is God wants us as we are, not as we would be after we make some number of things right. We don’t have to do anything to be accepted by God except repent and put our faith in Christ.

With that said, restitution could need to follow conversion if…

Soon after college I badly hurt a girl, and by extension, her family. My actions bothered me for years. At first I thought it was guilt. Then I thought the Holy Spirit was burdening me to apologize.  I found the girl’s mother on Facebook and asked her to forgive me. Although I thought of messaging the girl too, I thought hearing from me would probably cause more pain than comfort. I did invite the mother to share with her daughter how sorry I was if she thought that best.

The Holy Spirit can convict you to make some form of restitution for past sins:

  • Ask for forgiveness from someone you hurt
  • Repay someone for something you stolen
  • Tell someone the truth after a lie you told
  • Fix the reputation of someone you slandered

If God convicts you to perform some form of restitution, by all means obey the Lord. Will it affect your salvation? No, but it will affect your sanctification and spiritual peace.

Discuss questions for the comments section:

  • Why do you agree or disagree with this post?
  • Can you thin of any other reasons restitution is not needed following conversion?
  • Has the Lord ever burdened you to make some form of restitution? Can you share the details?
  • Can you think of some other ways God might convict people to make restitution?

31 thoughts on “3 Reasons Conversion Doesn’t Involve Restitution

  1. My question is, since Christ said old things have passed away……why then will God still bring your old ways to your remembrance for it to be restituted.

    1. Hello Abiodun,
      The verse you’re mentioning is in Isaiah 42:9, 2 Corinthians 5:17, and Revelation 21:5. Revelation is the instance the Lord said these words, and the context seems to be eternity, more than conversion. When Paul said these words, the context seems to be conversion, so I’ll consider when Paul said this versus Jesus.

      When we’re saved, we don’t have to worry about past sins; however, we’re saved by repenting of our sins and putting our faith in Christ. If God convicted you that repenting meant making something right, then by all means you should do that. This wouldn’t affect your salvation if you failed to obey. In other words, you’re still going to be saved, even if you disobey the Holy Spirit’s conviction. But it would still be sinful – like it is any time we fail to obey God – if you don’t act on that leading to make things right.

  2. I disagree. I didn’t, for a long time for some of the same reasons you’ve given. I thought making restitution was like reminding God of something He said He forgot…as in your sins are forgiven and forgotten. But I prayed for truth and God led me to a passage in Ezekiel. Before I get to that, I know we’re under a new covenant, I know Zacchaeus wasn’t commanded to pay restitution, and not everything can be paid back, I know He said sin no more but never said to make restitution. But you brought up repentance as turning from sin.

    We say we repent, but do we? Zacchaeus had a complete change of heart, so is that the evidence of true repentance?

    So as I’m listening to audio of Ezekiel, I had to rewind and listen again as this jumped out and smacked me. I’d been asking God to show me the truth in this. And He unmistakably did.

    Ezekiel 33
    14 And if I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely die,’ but they then turn away from their sin and do what is just and right— 15 *****if they give back what they took in pledge for a loan, return what they have stolen*****, follow the decrees that give life, and do no evil—that person will surely live; they will not die. 16 None of the sins that person has committed will be remembered against them. They have done what is just and right; they will surely live.

    Jesus always did the will of the Father and said we are to do likewise. The N.T. says our sins are forgiven and forgotten. This same language is used in Ezekiel above, but with clarification on repentance to include giving back what you’ve taken. One repents because they realize they’ve sinned and are sorry. Being truly sorry, truly repentant, should cause us to want to make restitution

    1. Hello Char,
      First, thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts.

      Second, when God wants to make something clear, He doesn’t use bold, italics, or highlighting, but He does use repeition. When we read the same thing twice, that’s not a mistake, but it is something God doesn’t want us to miss. The first question I’d ask with your position is, do we see it supported elsewhere in Scripture? I can’t think of any.

      To be clear, the verse you quoted does support what you’re saying; however, we use Scripture to interpret Scripture. We know we can come to wrong conclusions when we use verses in isolation. For example, if we look at James 2:24 in isolation, we’d conclude we’re justified by works. But the rest of Scripture defends justification by faith.

      Third, the epistles are the letters of instruction for the Church Age, while the prophets spoke to different groups in the Old Testament. What is said to one group is not what is said to another group. Obadiah spoke to the Edomites and said things to them that don’t apply to the Ninevites in Nahum. Ezekiel was speaking to the exiles in Babylon, and he described what repentance looked like for them. Similarly, Jesus described what repentance would look like for the Rich Young Ruler. Do you think you need to give away all your possessions? I’m sure you don’t. Why not apply Jesus’ words to him to yourself? Because you know Jesus didn’t say it to you.

      If you believe what you wrote, have you thought back to everything you’ve stolen and made restitution? Have you thought back to everyone you’ve hurt and made amends? I doubt you have, but I believe you’re a repentant person. With that said – like I wrote in the post – if the Holy Spirit burdens you to make some form of restitution, you should!

    2. Scott, one of course can’t repay everything. IE: if the person passed away or can’t be found, or for those things you don’t recall. But I do believe Jesus supported restitution and that the Scripture is there to back this up.

      You mentioned the rich young ruler. Well when he asked what must I do, Jesus said “keep the commandments”. There’s another such incident when Jesus is asked “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

      Luke 10
      25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” 27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” 28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

      What does it mean to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind? It means doing what He wants. Repentance is a changed heart and mind.

      Zacchaeus wasn’t told to make restitution but here’s what Jesus said in reply:

      Luke 19
      8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

      Immediately upon Zacchaeus’ statement to repay, Jesus declares Zacchaeus saved. He said it is because he too is a son of Abraham. But what made him a son?

      Genesis 26
      2 The Lord appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live. 3 Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you. For to you and your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham. 4 I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, 5 because Abraham obeyed me and did everything I required of him, keeping my commands, my decrees and my instructions.” 

      God confirmed his oath to Abraham with Isaac, on the condition that Isaac do what Abraham did…obey His command and “live in the land where I tell you to live.”

      You said that what is said to one group is not what is said to another group. Yet 2 Timothy 3:16 says that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness”. That means *all*…even the O.T.

      Abraham believed God and it was accredited to him as righteousness, but there’s more to believing.

      James 2
      17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.

      Can we believe without works? Well in the next verse, James shows us that we can.

      James 2:19
      You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

      Yet we know throughout Scripture that demons will not be in Christ’s Kingdom.

      Our love for Jesus, and faith that He is faithful, will cause us to do as He said and love one another. From that love for others, if we *know* we’ve wronged someone, our changed heart should cause us to want to right the wrong done to that person.

    3. Hello again Char,
      Interesting you mentioned Luke 10:25-28 as I just preached on these verses in my last sermon. Would you listen to the message? Inheriting Eternal Life.

      If your interpretation of these verses is correct, then Jesus was telling the lawyer (and the Rich Young Ruler) to inherit eternal life – or be saved – by works (keeping the commandments). I don’t think you believe this, since the Bible is overwhelmingly clear that we’ve saved by grace through faith apart from works. And if you did believe this, you’d be a heretic, because nothing is more foundational than the Gospel.

      So if that wasn’t what Jesus was saying to the lawyer and the Rich Young Ruler, what was He saying? They both asked, “What must I DO…” and Jesus answered their questions. If they wanted to be saved by doing, then they had to obey the Law…perfectly. He was trying to help them see they couldn’t do this. He was pointing out their inability to be saved by obeying the Law, and that instead they must repent and look to Him in faith.

      You seem to be making a different argument in this response from what I argued in my post:
      • My post is about making restitution for past sins when we’re converted
      • You seem to be arguing about the need to obey God’s commandments

      I definitely agree with you that we need to obey God. No, we’re not saved by obeying God’s commands, but Jesus said, “If you love Me, you’ll obey Me.” You don’t need to give me verses making that point :).

      You said:

      You said that what is said to one group is not what is said to another group. Yet 2 Timothy 3:16 says that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness”. That means *all*…even the O.T. Abraham believed God and it was accredited to him as righteousness, but there’s more to believing.

      I don’t think you believe this either, that we should obey everything God said to Israel (say nothing about what God said to the Ammonites, Moabites, Assyrians, etc). For example, God commanded Israel to wear tassels, not mix certain fabrics, avoid gardening certain ways. Do you have tassels on your clothing? Do you mix fabrics? Do you eat bacon? I suspect you probably don’t obey these commands, and why not? Because you’re not under the Mosaic Law.

      Everyone loves to quote Jeremiah 29:11, which is part of a letter Jeremiah wrote to the Jews in Babylon. Jeremiah didn’t even say the same thing to the Jews in exile that he said to the Jews still in the land. The Jews still in the land had different expectations than those in exile and vice versa. In verse 5 of the same letter God said, “Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce.” How many people who love Jeremiah 29:11 have built their own houses and eaten produce from their own gardens?

      One of the biggest mistakes people make when reading the Bible is they prescribe what is described. In other words, they look at what is described – or written to certain people – and prescribe – or apply it – to themselves. You seem to be recommending this. The early church was communal, sharing all their possessions. Do you own some possessions, or do you share everything with your brothers and sisters in Christ? You’re probably not communal, and that’s fine because you’re not part of the early church. If it was prescribed for us (verses describing the early church) we’d see an accompanying command in the epistles.

    4. Scott, Jesus said all the law hangs on two commands, not what Jeremiah wrote to the Jews. 

      Yes, Scripture says we’re saved by grace through faith and works cannot save us. But according to James, if we don’t have works, we don’t have faith. We are therefore not saved by grace through “faith” we don’t have. Works in and of themselves do not save us, but a lack of works shows we may not have true faith.

      If the rich young ruler truly believed Jesus was who He said He was, he’d have known that giving up his possessions was nothing compared to eternal life. This is why Zaccheus said he would pay back four times. He had real saving faith, and desired to do what was right. He truly believed.

      When you wrong someone and never apologize or feel remorse, that’s not love. We should WANT to make restitution to those we’ve hurt.

      Honestly, if people are here asking if restitution is required, it’s already playing on their conscience. Having been there, I can guarantee you that it’s not going to go away until they listen to the Spirit.

    5. Hello again Char,
      I thought it would be easier this time if I simply responded below your comments…

      Scott, Jesus said all the law hangs on two commands, not what Jeremiah wrote to the Jews.

      Right, but earlier you said, “2 Timothy 3:16 says that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness”. That means *all*…even the O.T.” In other words, you were saying the entire Old Testament applies to us, and my point is that while we can learn from the Old Testament (as 2 Tim 3:16 says), the entire Old Testament isn’t written directly TO us. There’s a difference. I used Jeremiah as an example, but I could’ve used many other prophets and many other passages to show that there are certain parts written to certain people and we get into trouble when we act as though those passages are written TO us. I gave you some examples in my previous response: do you wear tassels on your clothes?

      Yes, Scripture says we’re saved by grace through faith and works cannot save us. But according to James, if we don’t have works, we don’t have faith. We are therefore not saved by grace through “faith” we don’t have. Works in and of themselves do not save us, but a lack of works shows we may not have true faith.

      I feel like you’re trying to convince me of something I agree with, but that is not the point of my post. You seem to be trying to make these two points:
      1. We should obey God’s commands.
      2. Works should accompany faith.
      I agree with both of these points, but they don’t capture the point of my post.

      If the rich young ruler truly believed Jesus was who He said He was, he’d have known that giving up his possessions was nothing compared to eternal life. This is why Zaccheus said he would pay back four times. He had real saving faith, and desired to do what was right. He truly believed.

      I agree with this too.

      When you wrong someone and never apologize or feel remorse, that’s not love. We should WANT to make restitution to those we’ve hurt.

      I agree with this, but if you think you have to do that to be saved, or you think once you’re saved you have to go back and do this for everyone you’ve wronged then there are two problems:
      1. How could anyone expect to be able to be saved?
      2. You’ve moved from salvation by grace through faith to salvation by works.

      Honestly, if people are here asking if restitution is required, it’s already playing on their conscience. Having been there, I can guarantee you that it’s not going to go away until they listen to the Spirit.

      If you read the end of my post I said that if you feel burdened to make something right, you should.

    6. By saying all Scripture is useful, it doesn’t mean everything written applies directly. Ezekiel is useful in seeing what true repentance looks like.

      What I meant about righting a wrong, is that a willingness to do it for those you know you’ve wronged and can right, shows true saving faith. It is certainly faith that saves, and works don’t keep you saved, but a lack of works may indicate you’re not truly saved. As in Ezekiel, God said if you do what is right and restore what you’ve taken, THEN He will forgive and forget. The desire, and the action, in matters we can act on, is the mark of true repentance. So in effect, restitution is a requirement.

      Maybe we just say things the wrong way. Rather than wonder if restitution is or isn’t required, perhaps we should consider that the desire and action may be the evidence that you were truly saved.

      As I said, I struggled with it for a long time. I kept reminding myself that God doesn’t condemn and past sin was forgotten. I searched online, I asked others. There were so many opinions on it. But I asked God to show me the truth, and He did. I don’t know how many times I’ve read Ezekiel, but this time it smacked me upside the head, and I no longer had to question it, and I wanted to share it with anyone else who was going through that same struggle.

    7. Hello Char,
      Three quick questions that I wish I would’ve asked you earlier. After you felt like God revealed this to you through Ezekiel, I take it that then you started making restitution for your past sins. Is that correct?

      The second question: are you still working on making restitution for your past sins, or do you feel like you’ve finished?

      Third question: what about those sins you either a) can’t remember or b) simply can’t make restitution?

    8. You can’t make restitution for everything. Restitution is to restore something to its proper owner. So it’s something that was taken from them. And by retaining it, you’re still engaged in possessing stolen property, even if you used it, spent it, whatever. You benefited from something that belonged to someone else. Returning/restoring it would be the proper thing to do.

      I have two instances where I took something that didn’t belong to me many years ago. One isn’t possible to restore any longer. But the other, I knew I had to pay it back. The moment I made the decision, a weight lifted.

  3. Few years ago, I went for a close friends wedding. Somehow I stole money from her luggage which has never happened since we became friends…on discovering her missing money after the wedding when we got back home ,she wept bitterly and in the process laid a curse that whosoever stole her money and made her cry on her wedding day will not know peace and will never get married and that even if she gets marriage will never be happy…after some weeks I called her and confessed to her but didn’t reveal my identity…presently am marriage not for long thou (2years) without a child. It keeps coming back to me to go and confess openly to her before I can conceive even thou ve been diagnose of some not too serious issue… My question is will God accept my open confession and restitution as genuine since I waited till I had a problem I think is related to that senerio?

    1. Hello Otaniyen,
      Your story reminds me of Judges 17:1-2:

      Now there was a man from the mountains of Ephraim, whose name was Micah. 2 And he said to his mother, “The eleven hundred shekels of silver that were taken from you, and on which you put a curse, even saying it in my ears—here is the silver with me; I took it.”

      It seems pretty clear that you’re convicted about what you did and burdened to confess to her. If you remember how much money you stole you should attempt to return that much when you ask for forgiveness.

      In answer to your question: as long as your actions are genuine, then God will definitely accept your actions as genuine. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

      It could be possible that God allowed this “problem” in your life as a way to bring about your confession. While I can’t say for sure whether that’s the case, I can say whether he used that or not, it seems clear you should do what’s right now since you’re under such heavy conviction.

  4. Hi Scott, thank you for this article. A friend and I were reading it and we have a few questions. I think it’s pretty clear in that you don’t necessarily have to go back and restitute every wrong you’ve done, that it’s not a requirement. His question seems to be about the Holy Spirit comment at the very end. I think it’s pretty clear that the only way that restitution would become a requirement is conditionally – if and only if the Holy Spirit burdens you with the desire to restitute. It would therefore be an obligation only if you feel it to be an obligation, and not an obligation in all cases, is this correct?

    1. Hello Ryan,
      Thanks for reading and asking. I copied your comment and responded below below your questions…

      I think it’s pretty clear in that you don’t necessarily have to go back and make restitution for every wrong you’ve done, that it’s not a requirement.

      Correct!

      His question seems to be about the Holy Spirit comment at the very end. I think it’s pretty clear that the only way that restitution would become a requirement is conditionally – if and only if the Holy Spirit burdens you with the desire to make restitution.

      It depends what you mean by the words “become a requirement.” If you mean a requirement for salvation, then no, restitution is never a requirement for salvation. Salvation only requires repentance and faith in Christ. If you mean a requirement for obedience, then I’d say, yes. If the Holy Spirit convicts you to make restitution, then failing to do so would be disobedient/sinful.

      It would therefore be an obligation only if you feel it to be an obligation, and not an obligation in all cases, is this correct?

      Again, it depends what you mean by “be an obligation.” If you mean an obligation for salvation, then no. If you mean an obligation for obedience, then yes.

      Just to respond to something else I think you MIGHT be asking: if the Holy Spirit hasn’t convicted you, and/or brought it to mind, then no, I don’t see how it could be an obligation. In most cases you wouldn’t even remember. If the Holy Spirit does bring it to mind and convict you, burden you, etc to make things right, then yes, you’re obligated to do so.

      Please let me know if you have any more questions!

  5. I agree with what was said on top if God says he can’t remember a sin then he won’t bring it up. It’s up thinking of having to work out salavstion and doesn’t trust simply in the blood. Like what was said restitution was a mosaic law concept to govern at that time. Zaccheaus operated under this notion as well as Jesus had not yet established the new convent. I wouldn’t worry so much about the past as I woukd the bright future. Don’t let the past bring you down when you can impact other people for the kingdom of Jesus.

    1. Hi Jeff,
      Thanks for your sentiments.

      You said:

      God says he can’t remember a sin

      Not sure if this is semantics or not, but Scripture says God won’t remember. I think that’s different than God “can’t” remember. One shows God doing something deliberately (out of love and grace for us), while the other makes God seem…forgetful :).

      At any rate, good thoughts about Zaccheaus and his actions being governed – or at least encouraged by – the Old Covenant! And thanks for the encouragement about looking past old sins toward the future in Christ.

  6. Here is my submission on this very crucial matter,the bible says :Hebrews 8:12 (KJV)
    12For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.
    – This is the crux of the new testament ,if God has chose to forgive & forget our unrighteousness & iniquities,why then are we mentioning it again..? Why do we find it difficult to forgive ourselves..Zacheaus spoke on restitution based on the law that still exists at his time. Remember that Jesus was yet to die & so the testament was not new yet. But now that all things are new where did we see the law of restitution that we are talking about here? Won’t it amount to self righteousness to be practicing restitution ? I need detail response on this cogent issue. The thief that met Christ Jesus on the cross,did he restitute before he went to paradise?

    1. Hello Charles,
      I generally agree with what you’re saying. Great point about Zacheaus operating under the Mosaic Law. I hadn’t thought of that.

      Tone is hard to convey in writing, so I can’t really tell if you’re disagreeing with any of the post? It sounds to me like we generally agree with each other.

      The only thing is you said…

      Won’t it amount to self righteousness to be practicing restitution ? I need detail response on this cogent issue.

      I would disagree with this, because I think if God convicts us to do something – or not do something – and we’re sensitive to the Holy Spirit and obey, I don’t think that’s self-righteous. I think that’s obedient.

  7. Thank you for your words of encouragement. I’ve been a Christian for many years, but only recently the Lord has brought back to my mind many truly awful, shameful things from my youth and earlier years. I can’t tell you the “stabs” of shame that I felt at remembering what I’d done, and even the sin I commited at age 13 or 14 is as vivid today as it was when I commited it. And trust me, these sins aren’t “glamorous” Iif you know what I mean) but simply awful. I lately realize that the shame I’ve felt about my sins has kept me from intimacy with the opposite sex. I’ve always felt as if a good Christian guy (or any guy!) knew the truth about me, they’d reject me, so I always kept my distance. Before I began to remember these shameful things, I’d felt as if my Christian walk was dry. I asked the Lord to allow me to understand and to appreciate the cross, and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for my shame and my sins. I’d forgotten that I prayed this, and so the weight of all of my remembered sins was almost unbearable. Thankfully, our pastor was about to begin a sermon series on the topic of shame, and with God’s grace and love, I am beginning to realize that Jesus Christ really did take the shame of my most shameful sins. My big struggle has been about restitution: to whom should I confess some of these things? Should I confess all of them? I realize that some confessions are necessary (to the person/people involved); but others may be detrimental. I really thank you for the good truth that “if God wanted us to directly address sins of the past, He will bring it about in His own perfect timing (which He often does!).” Please pray for me as I am in this process of healing and trusting God. Thank you again, so much!

    1. Thank you for the comment. We’ve all done “truly awful, shameful things” in our pasts. Thank God for the forgiveness through Christ.

      I’ve heard many people say their past sexual sins have affected their sexual relationships in the future. It’s one of the unfortunate consequences of sin, but one still by God’s grace that can be healed.

      I don’t know who you are, but I will pray for you!

  8. Might I add that taking responsibility for what you’ve done is important, too. Again, tho’, I think God gives us graceful opportunities to right wrong’s so long as our hearts are right and our eyes are on Him.

    1. Well said Summer (on both of these comments).

      Regarding damaged past relationships, while I let Katie know I’d be as transparent with her about my past as she’d like, she preferred not to know anything, because – like you said – she saw me as a different person. She wanted to leave the past in the past.

      And yes, God definitely has a way of introducing into our lives anything He does still want us to address from the present or past.

    2. Hi Summer,
      I definitely agree with you…when it comes to the Christian life. I was striving simply to address conversion (hence the way the title is worded), and I feel like “adding” this requirement to salvation would be unbiblical. I do hope I provided the right balance though, at the end, where I wrote:

      With that said, if the Lord convicts…
      The Holy Spirit could burden you to make some form of restitution for past sins:

      Ask for forgiveness from someone you’ve hurt.
      Repay someone for something you’ve stolen.
      Tell someone the truth after a lie you’ve told.
      Try to fix the reputation of someone you’ve slandered.
      If God convicts you about some form of restitution, by all means obey the Lord.

  9. When Scott and I attended a Christian conference 12 years ago, the speaker spent a good segment of his talk discussing how to address ‘old’ sins. He was a firm believer in confronting them, and seeking forgiveness in all things. I am all for that.

    This, of course, included damaged boy/girl relationships. That didn’t sit right with us. Scott and I talked long and hard about this, and really felt like – unless a situation presented itself – it wasn’t something that one should re-hash, become obsessed with, or even seek out at all. We should instead focus on our changed life, and ultimately, on God completely. We are no longer that person; those sins are no longer ours.

    I think if God wanted us to directly address sins of the past, He will bring it about in His own perfect timing (which He often does!). Don’t force it or let it consume what could otherwise be glorifying to God.

    If it’s a burden, bring it to God. Do what you can within reason (and so long as it isn’t destructive). And let it go.

    If it were only that easy sometimes…. Prayer is a powerful thing!

    1. Summer,
      I’m all for confronting old – or new – sins. As far as seeking forgiveness for them, do you know if he meant before or after conversion?

      Also, how “old”? I think you could spend the rest of your life going back to those past sins trying to make them right…and still be unable to do so. We’ve got to hope if God has the grace to forgive us He’s got the grace to help others forgive us.

      Regarding past relationships, yes, I generally think those are best left in the past. Sometimes reaching out to past ex’s can cause problems, including upsetting our spouse, or even upsetting the person we’re seeking forgiveness from. Maybe that person moved on and doesn’t want to think about us again?

      You said, “I think if God wanted us to directly address sins of the past, He will bring it about in His own perfect timing (which He often does!). Don’t force it or let it consume what could otherwise be glorifying to God.”

      Yes, I completely agree with this!

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