Many of us who were converted to Christ from a foolish and worldly lifestyle have much in our past we wish we could forget. We know and rejoice that God has “forgotten” our sins (Heb. 8:12). Yet we are still haunted by memories we wish we could erase. This painful problem has been worsened for many young Christians today who are haunted by an online past which is even harder to “forget.”

Dave Borgenicht highlights this problem from an employment perspective:

These days, it’s getting tougher and tougher to keep a good name unbesmirched. Surveys indicate that as many as half of hiring managers use search engines to screen job applicants, and 1 in 10 have rejected potential employees because of damaging information on the web. Even if there’s no one out to get you, it’s likely that you’ve left your own e-trail of embarrassment: Facebook, photos, blog comments, cached web pages, YouTube videos — all these things can provide the world with evidence of your previous poor judgment and wrongdoing.

However, the newly converted Christian has the additional concern about how their online past will impact their future Christian witness, usefulness, friendships, and even marriage. And this problem is only going to get worse as, according to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, “the age of privacy is over….public is the new social norm.” More and more people are sharing more and more information with more and more people.

How then can you escape or erase your online past? Dave Borgenicht offers the following advice as a starting point:

1. Take down your own postings: The vast majority of embarrassing online material consists of things people posted themselves. Remove all such material from your Facebook page, MySpace page, Classmates page, Twitter postings, and anywhere else it appears. When evaluating whether material is unacceptable, imagine your grandmother or a potential employer viewing it.

2. Block outsiders: Reset the “settings” on your social networking profiles to limit access only to people you have approved.

3. Search for your name: Find your entire online presence by searching for yourself in every search engine. Dig into all the resulting pages and open every link. Look for pictures from your past in which you are doing embarrassing or questionable activities, such as doing a keg stand, setting a police car on fire, or wearing stonewashed jeans.

4. Search smarter: Redo your search, this time searching for just your last name, in combination with your hometown, college, or any institution you’ve been a member of, such as a scouting organization, sorority, or fight club.

5. Politely request removal: E-mail the administrator of any site that includes dubious material relating to you, and ask them politely to remove it.

Some of the other suggestions are more humorous (I think?). But the overall point is serious and relevant for new Christians. There is simply no point in giving the devil extra ammunition. (Perhaps churches should help new Christians with this?)

Ultimately we have to trust the Lord with our reputations. If we cannot escape or erase our past sins, whether from our memories or from computer memories, then we can pray that God will humble us with them and use them to ever remind us of His amazing grace to wretches like us.

Picture: 2009 © Doug Owens. Image from

  • Gizeh Urribarri

    It is my opinion that while some stuff (as if you have homosexual activity, or pictures of doing illegal activities such as would be shooting up drugs, killing stealing, a satanic act or something like that) should be erased, we should not go over puritan, and try to delete our whole lives before we became christians. Everyone can be the judge of their own convictions, but I’m just saying if you erase everything that you were BEFORE Christ, then aren’t you also erasing your testimony? I’m just saying if you were born perfect and without blemish, then WHERE is the CHANGE that happened as a result of Christ coming into your life, and CHANGING it? We need to be very careful not to erase our testimony in order to edify ourselves; let’s not kid ourselves, we’re all sinners, and without Jesus we are nothing, absolutely nothing, so it is not ourselves that we should be edifying, but Him; it is not our purpose that we should be serving, but His. If anything in your past edifies your testimony and helps people still living in the world relate to you better, and see your now godly living as accessible to them also, if it helps bring someone to the Lord, as if “well if THAT guy could be like that, then so can I” then I think that you should leave it because it serves the Lord’s purpose, sometimes when we see people that pretend to BE perfect, it makes unsaved people feel like “oh yeah well… salvation is for THEM good people over there… not for me, I’m not that good” not knowing that we may have been there as well… and if something should cause anyone to fall, then you should take it out, as your sins have already been forgiven and it goes against the will of the Lord. We need to put ourselves completely aside, and only focus on that which serves Him, and the best testimony is the contrast of who you are NOW, living a godly life by example, and who you were before Christ, along with SHOWING them the sincere joy, peace and love of the Lord that should live in us as a result of constant prayer, and a deep relationship with Jesus Christ, and remember, we don’t become Christians to be “holier than thou” we’re all children of the Lord, and we’re called to humble repentance, and to be disciples we became His christians to serve His purpose here on earth and forever adore and worship Him, here on earth as well as in heaven.Paul Said in 1 Cor 9:19 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.Now, this DOES NOT mean, by ANY means that we’re going to drink or do drugs, or revert to inappropiate behavior! in the SAME chapter, Paul preceeds this by saying: But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.13 Don’t you know that those who serve in the temple get their food from the temple, and that those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? 14 In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.The answer, relate to people by sharing our testimony, our past, specially where that led us, the moment that we finally met and received Jesus Christ as our Lord and savior, and contract this by our living the gospel wholeheartedly, sincerely and completely from the inside out as a result of our relationship with and love for and from the Lord, read our scripture, and POUR the love of the Lord unto ALL. Our only purpose should be ONLY that which serves ONLY the Lord and not ourselves… The Lord has a habit of saving the most lost sometimes to make an example that salvation is available to ALL- Paul himself killed and imprisoned Christians- WHY? it makes an AMAZING testimony to the world and His purpose;) God bless!!