When Halloween rolls around it always reminds us of haunted houses. Someone once asked me: “Wayne, do you believe in “haunted” houses?” I answered, “Of course not. I study the Bible. I believe what God has said about those things. I am a preacher and do not believe in ghosts, spooks, and goblins.” He said, “Well, would you go into a house that most everybody in town believed was “haunted” and stay all night?” I replied, “Who me? Never!!! I may be wrong about ghosts and goblins. I have misunderstood numerous things in the Bible in my time and there is no need to take any unnecessary chances!”

I well remember a song from the sixties by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs (yes that was really the name of the group) called, “Haunted House.” As the title would imply, the song was about a guy who moved into a haunted house. Inside the house, “bells started ringing and chains rattled loud” and he knew he had moved into a “haunted house.” He saw a man from “outer space” that had “one big eye and two big feet.” The alien sat on a “hot stove” and “drank hot coffee right from the spout” and “hot grease from the frying pan.” The strange visitor ordered, “Don’t be here when the morning comes.” Now, talk about an unnecessary command. He would not have had to tell me that! I would have been gone as soon as I saw him. But this man in the song decides to stay, regardless. In fact he said, “Yes, I will be here when the morning comes, I’ll be right here” and “ain’t gonna run.” He bought this house and there was no way a “haint’s gonna run me off.”

But seriously, “Haunted House” is just a song that came from the imagination of the writer. The house and people and circumstances it describes do not exist and they never did. But I do know a lot of Christians who are like this, at least in a sense. They, too, live in an “imaginary” haunted house. One of the words that can mean the same thing as “haunted” is “troubled.” We say things like, “If you do that, it will come back to haunt you.” And what we mean, of course, is that a certain decision now may trouble or disturb us later.

Many believers live troubled lives and their hearts are disturbed because they are living in a “haunted house.” A haunted house of “guilt.” Some Christians just can’t seem to get passed…the past. They can’t seem to accept the fact that God has actually forgiven them for the stupid decisions they have made and horrible sins (especially presumptuous sins) they have committed. But David in the Old Testament (2 Samuel 11-12) and Paul in the New Testament (1 Timothy 1:12-16) are examples to us all of how ready and willing God is to forgive us. David knew about God’s “multitude” of “tender mercies” (Psalm 51:1). Paul knew that God’s grace is “exceedingly abundant” (1 Timothy 1:14). As a matter of fact, in the famous Old Testament passage where God says His thoughts are higher than our thoughts and His ways are higher than our ways—as much so as the heavens are higher than the earth—He was talking specifically about forgiveness and how willing He is to forgive! He promised to “abundantly pardon” those who would turn to Him from a life of sin. Read it for yourself in Isaiah 55:6-9. He does not think like we think or act like we act when it comes to forgiveness. We cannot out sin the blood of Jesus. Jesus is better at saving than we are at sinning!

So we need to get out of the “haunted house” of guilt and shame and get on with living for God. Being tormented, troubled, or even slightly disturbed over the sins of the past that have been forgiven is living in an imaginary “haunted house.” What’s done is done! But more importantly, what Christ has done is done! It is finished (John 19:30). We need to stop trying to “restart” what He has “finished.” I know that some preachers and other Christians continually want to remind us of past mistakes, failures, and sins, but do not listen to them. These sincere souls are surely not from “outer space” like the one in the song, but they are definitely “out of place” when they say, teach, or imply that one has to “straighten out the past” in order to be “forgiven in the present.” Remember, if you are a Christian you are in the Lord’s “House of Grace” (1 Timothy 3:14-15; Rom. 5:1-2) and His house is not a “haunted house of guilt.”

Thank God for Jesus! (2 Cor. 9:15).

Wayne Dunaway

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