“Forget the Things of the Past”
Philippians 3:12-13 (ESV)
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.
It’s our national anniversary month… we are turning 8… Praise the Lord!
In this National Anniversary series (Pressing On Towards The Goal) Paul is a runner, pressing toward the prize. The figure of a runner is a favorite with Paul (see 1 Cor. 9:25-27; 1 Thess. 2:19-20; Heb. 12:1-3; 2 Tim. 2:5). Of course, Paul is not suggesting that we run to get to heaven! The Olympic runners in ancient Greece had to be citizens of the nation they represented. They also had to be free men, not slaves. The unsaved sinner is a slave, but the Christian is a citizen of heaven (3:20) and has been set free by Christ. Each Christian is given a special place on the "track" for his or her own service, and each one has a goal established by Christ. Our task in life is to "lay hold of that for which Christ laid hold of us" (v. 13). Paul is not talking about salvation but sanctification - growth and progress in Christian life and service.
For one thing, we must be honest with ourselves and admit where we are: as Paul declared. "Not that I have already attained" (v. 12). Then, we must keep our eyes of faith on Christ and forget the past - past sins and failures, and also past successes. We must press on in His power. The Christian life is not a game; it is a race that demands the very best that is in us: "This one thing I do" (v. 13).
How do we reach the goal God has set for us?
But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead…
What does it mean forgetting the things of the past? What does it involves?
First of all, it involves…
I. Forgetting our Past Sins
A. Don’t feel guilty – You have been forgiven
Sad reality reveals that many believers today still possess guilt feelings about the sins they have committed before they came to know Christ as Lord and Savior.
Guilt is not a good thing for believers; it doesn’t help in any way in our Christian journey. When we surrender our lives to Jesus, God takes away all our sins and he takes away the penalty, as well as all the guilt.
Heb. 10:21-23 “and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful”. NIV
B. Don’t go back to it – You have been freed
John 8:36-37 “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed”. NIV
Too many Christians live divided lives. One part enjoys the things of the world and the other part tries to live for the Lord. They get ambitious for "things" and start minding earthly ambitions. Our calling is a "high calling" and a "heavenly calling"; and if we live for this world, we lose the prize that goes with our high calling.
Rom 6:18, 22 “You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life”. NIV
Secondly, it also involves…
II. Forgetting our Past Shortcomings
A. Don’t regret on what you haven’t done well before – You can make it right now.
The bible says… Rom 8:1-2 “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death”. NIV
Prov. 24:16 “for though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again, but the wicked are brought down by calamity”. NIV
B. Don’t be hindered by your weaknesses – You have been empowered now.
Matt 26:41 "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak." NIV
2 Cor. 12:10 “That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong”. NIV
Finally, it involves…
III. Forgetting our Past Successes
A. Don’t get stuck on your on your past victories – You are still in a race.
Phil 3:12 “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me”. NIV
The apostle Paul is a good example of a servant who will never get stuck on the victories God has given him, instead, he will continue to push through because he knew that the battle isn’t yet.
One good example is Manny Pacquiao who keeps on winning even if he already had 7 championships belt from different weight divisions.
B. Don’t drop your weapon and celebrate – Your opponent might overtake you.
Remember the armies of Gideon… only those who keeps on holding their weapon while drinking the water were qualified to join the final 300.
Negatively, when Manny Pacquiao experience defeat over an unknown Thai boxer several years back… He was defeated by default, why? He becomes undisciplined at that time; no hard training, no enough focus, etc. So before the fight begin he already loose the fight by default.
Maintaining your discipline as a Christian is very vital in our Christian walk… It’s ok to celebrate victory but we need remain vigilant because the enemy is so cleaver that he will try everything to deceive us when we are off guarded.
1 Pet. 5:8 “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour”.
A. When you don’t forget the Sins of the past you will never enjoy real forgiveness.
B. When you don’t forget the Shortcomings of the past you will never overcome your weaknesses.
C. When you don’t forget the Successes of the past you will never experience the ultimate victory.
“Letting go of all the things of the past will help us enjoy today and will open great opportunities for future victories in life”