"A new heart also will I give you. Then shall ye remember your own evil ways" (Ezek. 36:26,31).
The prophet says that the memory of our badness only comes after we have become good. "A new heart will I give you; then shall ye remember your own evil ways." One would have expected the opposite statement. We should have looked for such words as these: "You must expect for a little to be troubled with old memories. You must not be surprised, when you are in the first stage of reformation, to experience the remorse of conscience for bad deeds in the past. When your new nature is complete, when the weaning process is over, when you become accustomed to the corn of the land, you will forget all about your struggles and failures; you will remember your shortcomings no more."
The prophet says it is only then you will remember them. He says the valleys of your life will not become visible until you have scaled the height and stood upon the mountain's brow. And truly he is right; experience cries "Amen!" The memory of sin is the latest gift of my Father. His earliest gifts are incentives to move forward; they rather discourage a retrospective view. God says to the beginner, "Forget the things which are behind; press toward the mark of the prize!" But when the mark of the prize is won, when the top of the hill is gained, then for the first time He says, "Look back!" Then, for the first time, memory wakes, and our yesterday appears; and the valley of the past looks lowly and the shadows of the past seem deep. We beat upon our breast and say, "O wretched man that I am!"