Forgetting the Past and Pressing Forward
Don’t Let Your ‘Past’ Keep You from Living in the Freedom and Joy of the Lord.
One of the most often heard quotes from the apostle Paul is found in the third chapter of the book of Philippians. After listing all the things that he has been through—both the good and the bad—Paul reaffirms his intention to continue to pursue Christ after first saying “this one thing I do, FORGETTING those things which are behind [in the past].”
13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this One Thing I Do, FORGETTING those things which are behind [in THE PAST], and reaching forth unto those things which are before [ahead], 14 I Press Toward The Mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14 (KJV)
When we consider these verses, we usually think about Paul’s exclusive focus on “this one thing I do.” We are all inspired by someone who is following, reaching, and pressing toward the finish line despite life’s challenges. But, in the examining the text we often fail to consider the key word that makes his strivings possible; it is the word “FORGETTING.” Paul was a deliberate and ‘Intentional Forgetter.’ Yes, Paul’s past was in fact his past but … he ‘Laid It Aside.’
One of the things that keeps so many Christians from moving ahead is their unwillingness to ‘forget’ or ‘set aside things from their past.’ Many are unwilling to forget bad of their past in order to follow Christ fully.
For believers who value Christ as all, there is nothing good to be found in the past, before their Salvation. We must realize that Christ Today Is Alive in The Ever-Present Now. We won’t find Him and His life supply for us by dwelling on the past, or in worrying about the future.
We must lay it all aside, both the good and the bad of our past.
- The ‘good’ of the past devalued: Yes, Paul had had the ‘good.’ He was a Pharisee and a man of prominence, and it can be assumed that a good life was attached to these things. But Paul considered them waste and dung in comparison to living for Christ. Today, too many of us may have worldly temporal attachments that keep us from serving Christ, and we may need to learn to forget them just as Paul was willing to do.
- The ‘bad’ of the past must be forgotten, set aside: Paul suffered greatly. Like Paul, we also have to learn to be willing to forget our pains and problems. Most Christians cannot go forward in their walk with Christ until they are willing to lay aside some hurt, offense or problem. Like a computer that has frozen or locked up because it cannot resolve a problem, we too often get stuck on a difficulty we can’t seem to get over. The result is self-centered viewpoint. A heart that is not focused on Christ, unable to pursue right things in an attitude thankfulness and gratitude for our eternal blessings.
Forgetting past hurts, offenses, problems, and failures is absolutely necessary in order to genuinely press toward the mark of Christ-likeness.
Actually, we don’t ‘forget’ the past but rather We deal with the past in the only productive way of ‘laying it aside’ and even learning from life’s injuries, not be held captive by them. This kind of forgetting is often the prerequisite to going forward. Like the Apostle Paul our focus is on “this one thing I do.” Let’s not miss the truth that order to press forward it likely is necessary to forget some things of our past.
Forget the Past or … fail the Grace of God:
Consider these thoughts about the importance of going forward and overcoming the offenses and hurts of the past.
1. ‘Looking Back’ Encourages the Possibility of ‘Going Back’
When it comes to offenses one of the best things, we can do to overcome them is to Stop Recalling and Rehearsing the Hurt in Our Minds… lay those thoughts aside, refuse them. The Devil would love to entrap us in our past there so we are to “cast down” these “imaginations.”
4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (KJV)
- When we recall and rehearse the hurts of the past in our minds, may begin to justify our bitterness toward the other person(s). This only keeps us from focusing on God’s forgiveness and grace, and the fact that we have sometimes been guilty of the same failings toward others.
- Looking back keeps us from looking to God for help and the potential of considering our offenders in a better light. If our eyes and heart are turned in the wrong direction and if we don’t become ‘deliberate forgetters,’ we then give place to the devil allowing him to keep us in a cage of our own making.
Both forgiving and forgetting are often keys toward actualizing our freedom in the Christ. It is best to forget what is behind you so that it has no opportunity to overtake you again.
2. We Do Not Want Our Response to Fail of “the Grace of God” and Christ’s Cross-work for us.
Consider the factual fundamental basis by which that we can forget the past and go onto live in union with Christ as our NEW LIFE.
17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is A NEW CREATURE: Old Things Are Passed Away; behold, All Things Are Become New. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (KJV)
The fact is that though we still live in our old sin-laden body of flesh (Rom. 8:3), our old hurting soul-self ‘died with Christ’ and we have His resurrection life now as our life.
20 I am [the old me is] crucified with Christ: nevertheless I LIVE; yet not I, but CHRIST LIVETH IN ME: and the life which I now live in the flesh [of this old body] I [now] live by the faith [faithfulness] of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me [so I could be renewed]. Galatians 2:20 (KJV)
3. There Is Much to Be Gained and Learned by Forgetting
Paul pressed forward for the prize. For us there is something greater to be gained by laying aside the past and moving ahead, no longer lingering in the hurtful past.
There is simply nothing to be gained by going back to past hurts and refusing to get over them. It is by forgiving and pressing forward that we gain a greater Christ-likeness.