Summary: Looking back in the Christian life is a recipe for failure. This message, ideal for a New Years message, reminds us of 4 things we should not look back to once we come to faith in Christ.
Don’t Look Back
January 8, 2012
A PowerPoint presentation of this message is available by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adapted from Preach for a Year #1, pp. 203-204.
Satchel Paige had a good rule for living: He said, “Don’t look back, something may be gaining on you!”
Illus. – My track coach in high school was my dad. He had many words of advice both on and off the track, but when it came to running races and relays, there was one above all others. He used to say: “Run as fast as you can, and whatever you do, don’t look back.” The reason is three fold:
• First, looking back during a race BREAKS YOUR CONCENTRATION.
• Second, it BREAKS YOUR FLOW.
• Third, it SLOWS YOU DOWN.
The Bible also calls for us not to look back.
In our text, Jesus said, “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
• Looking back hinders forward progress.
• Looking back may be making you depressed.
• Looking back to the past may be bringing you defeat in the present, thus paralyzing you from action to affect your future.
The title of my message today is very simple: “Don’t Look Back.”
Let me share four brief thoughts with you on that subject today:
I. FIRST, DON’T LOOK BACK AT SINS THAT HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN.
Illus. – I never will forget a lady in our church in Wiesbaden whom I’ll refer to as Jan, which is not her real name (Robin Porter). Jan had SO many problems, both personally and in relationships with others. One day I went to visit her and her husband and as we talked, she poured forth a succession of serious problems in her former life—one right after the other. She confessed that before her salvation, she had transgressed all Ten Commandments, not in her heart like most of them, but literally she had transgressed all Ten Commandments, including murder through an abortion she had had. Though she’d since come to Christ for salvation, and experienced a changed life, she couldn’t find assurance that God had truly forgiven her of all her sins. She lived with a sense of floating guilt that beat her down and made her feel dirty and unworthy to be a Christian.
Jan suffered from “looking back-itis.”
When we’re saved, God wants us to come to the realization of our full and complete pardon in Jesus Christ.
Turn to Psalm 103 and look at a wonderful passage explaining the full pardon God promises: “1 Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. 2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: 3 Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; 4 Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies.…(Now go down to verse 8:) 8 The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. 9 He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. 10 He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. 11 For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. 12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. 13 Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. 14 For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.”
I wonder if you believe this for others, but not for yourself. If you’ve been saved by trusting in Christ as your Savior, then God has put away ALL your sin, even your most serious ones! If our transgressions are as far as the east is from the west (that is, a distance of infinity), that means God doesn’t look back on our sins after He has forgiven them. If HE doesn’t look back, what right do YOU have to look back at past sins?! What right do YOU have to feel the guilt of sins already paid for and forgiven?
I’ll tell you something else: when God saves us, not only does He forgive us of the sins of our past life, but He delivers us from judgment for those sins. NEVER will the believer have to face the punishment for sins done before we were born into God’s family.
There may be natural reaping from sins sown in the past. The alcoholic with cirrhosis of the liver is not cured when he trusts in Christ. The immoral person with an STD is not suddenly cured because she is saved. There are the natural, temporal, passive consequences of our actions on this fallen earth, but once we are saved, God never actively punishes for sins in our past life.