Have you ever struggled with guilt from the past? Have you ever felt like the horrendous sins you have committed are forever a part of your identity? For many years I lived as a Christian with the belief that God could remake me but my dreadful past would always be under the foundation of whatever new life I had in Christ. I struggled fiercely with knowing in my heart I was forgiven but never feeling completely and totally free.

Several years ago, God helped me grasp fully what it meant when the Bible says we are made new. For the past several years, I have worked in the real estate industry. I have been in hundreds of homes of every size and type — charming historic, new construction, fully remodeled and horrendously abandoned. I have seen just about everything you can think. Typically, when a home is built on a lot, it is rarely, if ever, completely torn down. Only in the case of extreme disaster is a home completely leveled. Why level an entire home if the foundation is still useful? Instead, well-kept homes are continuously maintained, remodeled and regularly updated. Wise homeowners replace carpets, repaint rooms and modernize appliances to keep their older homes looking current. This helps the homeowners prepare for an unforeseen sale and allows them to enjoy their refreshed spaces.

The thing is these older, refurbished homes will always have the original footprint and foundation. The house may be much more aesthetically appealing, but the date it was built doesn’t change; therefore, the home will always reflect its age. The house may look like a current craftsmen style rancher, but it was once a drafty, historic bungalow.

Things are not what they seem.

Many Christians live with a similar homeowners view of Christianity. We continually update and modify our lifestyles, make regular efforts of maintenance by attending church and Bible study, and we do the best we can to make our old life look much cleaner now that we are believers. Thankfully, 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us God isn’t interested in remodeling the believer’s house. God doesn’t update us here and there, alter us continually or maintain us. Instead, He does something entirely more costly and completely radical — He rebuilds us from the ground up!

When Christ enters our lives, His intention is never to repaint the house or increase curb appeal. The Lord is not into quick fixes and BAND-AID® solutions to structural damage and painful histories. He doesn’t just polish the surfaces of our miserable, sinful lives. He comes with a wrecking ball, intending to crush and remove all of our former life. How cool it is that the great Creator specializes in complete demolition of who we once were! The old is literally wiped away! When we understand the implications of a new life, we realize that our human efforts in small renovations are a fruitless waste of time.

When we surrender our lives to Christ, the old self is immediately gone! We are no longer defined by the sins we’ve committed or even the sins committed against us. We are new, unblemished and remade, covered in the holiness of Jesus. Our former self was literally wrecked on the cross when Jesus died and proclaimed, “It is finished!” There is no sin you can commit or doubt you can have that will nullify His accomplished work. The old is gone, the new is here! Isn’t that so freeing?

If you’ve been holding onto your past and have trouble feeling new in Christ, a wise, first step is to ask for God’s help in abandoning the old dimensions and blueprints you’ve had for your life. Don’t make the mistake of accepting God’s forgiveness without receiving or realizing the full privilege it entails. Surrender yourself to the ultimate Creator, Carpenter and Healer. God promises to those who confess their sins not only forgiveness, but also, a willing forgetfulness. Isaiah 43:25 states, “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.”

It is impossible to encounter Jesus and remain unchanged. Allowing God to bulldoze our current self and begin a rebuild is vulnerable, scary and overwhelming. But choosing to allow God access to our heart and granting Him permission to do as He wishes every single day will be the most rewarding and satisfying decision you will ever make.