Summary: There is a danger in looking back at the past. The New Year’s sermon reminds us not to look back, but to look ahead to the future that is as bright as the promises of God.
Don’t Look Back
A New Year’s Sermon
January 5, 2020
NOTE: A PowerPoint presentation is available for this sermon by request at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please mention the title of the sermon and the Bible text to help me find the sermon in my archives.
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 DISRUPTS YOUR FLOW OF PHYSICAL MOTION
Third, it SLOWS YOU DOWN, even if for a split second, and has been known to cause runners to lose a race by a hair in a close race.
The Bible also calls for us not to look back. In our text, Jesus said, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, 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. 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 people, but literally she had transgressed all Ten Commandments, including 2 abortions. 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. So I shared the scripture in Psalm 103 I want you to see with me.
Turn to Psalm 103 for an amazing promise of God’s full pardon: “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 forgives all your iniquities; who heals all your diseases; 4 Who redeems your life from destruction; who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies. (Now go with me down to verse 8? The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. 9 He will not always chide: nor will he keep his anger forever. 10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heaven is above the earth, so great is his mercy toward those who fear him. 12 As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. 13 Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him. 14 For he knows our frame; he remembers 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 all our sins, but He delivers us from judgment for those sins. NEVER will the believer have to face the punishment for sins. Now, there may be natural reaping from seeds 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.