brethren, i count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing i do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, phil 3:13
as Christians we live in a marvelous world of contradiction and paradox. as our spirit is regenerated it comes into direct conflict with the deadness of the flesh and its sinful nature. paul models the ideal position of the enduring and growing Christian: forgetting the deadness of the past and reaching for the perfection of the future. he is sure to note that he has not attained this and certainly we know we cannot reach it on this side of heaven, nevertheless we live as if we could. since we have been delivered from slavery to death and sin we strive to live in a way that reflects life and light.
for you were once darkness, but now [you are] light in the LORD. walk as children of light eph 5:8
but God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. rom 6:17
therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 cor 5:17
and such were some of you. but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the LORD Jesus and by the spirit of our God. 1 cor 6:11
often we define ‘forgetting what is behind’ as shunning sin and, instead, living in the spirit. the scripture confirms this.
if we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness we lie and do not practice the truth. but if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his son cleanses us from all sin. 1 jo 1:6-7
wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we [him] no more. 2 cor 5:16
however, what we do not always realize is that forgetting what is behind also means forgetting past sins. we know that God is love, yes? we know that love covers a multitude of sins (1 pet 4:8) and that love keeps no record of wrongs (1 cor 13:5). as children living in the spirit of God and the spirit of love this means not only forgetting the sins of others but ours as well. freedom from sins not only means freedom from sinning but also freedom from the memory of past sins, from regret. the past and its sins still reside in that realm of darkness outside of Christ. as we have passed from darkness into light, the light of the son of God no less (col 1:13) we no long have any business dwelling in that darkness whether it be by sinning or by reliving past sins.
i have discovered that to continue to dwell on past sins and continue to feel shame or regret over them is just as sinful as to return to that place. the LORD has released me from past sins, they are gone, as far as the east is from the west, so to continue to live in that dark place is to refuse the freedom of the LORD. paul addressed as similar issue with the church in galatia who, after being freed from the law in Christ returned to it.
for if i build again those things which i destroyed, i make myself a transgressor. gal 2:18
continuing to punish ourselves for sins that have been forgiven is not only unnecessary, it is sinful. we are refusing the precious freedom bought by Christ’s sacrifice. we are also unusable in the kingdom of God.
and Jesus said unto him, no man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. luke 9:62
it is a trick of the devil to believe that lingering over past sins does not fall under “looking back.” be grieved over your sin, bury it, and then move on to perfection.
wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, says the LORD, and touch not the unclean thing; and i will receive you, and will be a father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, says the LORD almighty. having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. 2 cor 6:17-7:1