Summary: There are negative things from our past that hold us back, we can overcome the past and experience a great today and tomorrow.

Text: Philippians 3:12-14, Luke 15 - Prodigal

Title: Overcoming Your Past

Subject: Overcoming sin and faults

Proposition: You can overcome your past.

Interrogative: How can I overcome my past?

Transition: Scripture shares with us several truths to help us overcome our past.

Objective: Therefore, receive God’s mercy today.


We all have a past.

Most of us struggle with negative things from the past.

Heated words



Broken relationships





Loss of a loved one

Loss of a job

Financial trouble

Troubled childhood

A Sunday School teacher had just concluded her lesson and wanted to make sure she had made her point. She said, "Can anyone tell me what you must do before you can obtain forgiveness of sin?" There was a short pause and then, from the back of the room, a small boy spoke up. "Sin," he said.

Bits & Pieces, May, 1991.

The fact is all have sinned.

We all have a past that involves sin and other negative events.

Even Paul said,

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect…”

Philippians 3:12

Paul had a past too, that caused him to say that he was not yet perfect.

Yet we know that Paul said he had learned to be content.

Too often we fret so much over our past that it brings…





Lack of trust



Feelings of inadequacy

Questions of God’s ability to forgive, accept, and/or provide.

I want you to know today that you can overcome your past and experience contentment.

Scripture shares several truths that help us to overcome our past.

Forget what is behind. (3:13)

“Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind…”

Philippians 3:13a

Too often we live in the past, constantly rehearsing, rehashing or replaying what we have done and what has been done to us.

While we rehearse, rehash and replay we also tell ourselves we are no good, God can’t use me, I can’t change, etc…

In order to forget what is behind, you must quit rehearsing, rehashing and replaying.

In order to forget what is behind you must believe that God loves you, accepts you and will change you.

In order to forget what is behind you must seek and offer forgiveness.

Without forgiveness we tend to stack events of the past one on top of another.

It is similar to CO poisoning. Carbon Monoxide begins collecting at the floor level and you never notice it. But, as it continues to fill a room it stacks up until it is at the level that you begin to breathe it in. Then, you experience headaches and stomach problems. The CO continues to stack until the entire room is filled with the poison and you die because there is no fresh air left to breath.

Stacking our sins and negative events eventually fill the room and we die.

We need to forget the past by not allowing it to fill our thoughts.

Strain Toward What Is Ahead (13c-14)

We shouldn’t just stand still when we put the past behind us.

We need to strain toward what is ahead, press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus.

God has great things planned for you.

It does not matter what your past has been.

It doesn’t matter how big your sins are.

It doesn’t matter what bad choices you made.

It doesn’t matter what your parents were like.

We must strain toward those plans.

God wants to bless you.

“Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you as well.” Matthew 6:33

Part of straining is seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness.

God wants to use you.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Eph 2:10 (NKJV)

Part of straining is putting forth the effort to complete these good works.

God wants to give you a crown of life.

“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12

Part of straining is persevering under trial.

God wants you to join Him in heaven.

1 “Don’t be troubled. Believe in God, and believe in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms. If that were not true, would I have told you that I’m going to prepare a place for you? 3 If I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again. Then I will bring you into my presence so that you will be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”

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