Forgetting Those Things Which Are Behind

Philippians 3:13-14 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, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Forgetting those things which are behind. This is one of the most important admonitions we have in Scripture. First, do not let your past accomplishments for Christ, give you a false sense of security. Do not let your past labor for Christ be the indication of who you are in Christ today. If someone said to you, “prove to me you are a Christian”, how would you reply. Would you refer to a time many years ago and use that one experience to prove who you are in Christ today? No, I am not saying forget about the day you first accepted Christ, for that was a glorious day.  What I am saying is this: If there has been no change in your life since the day you first accepted him, if you are not continuing to change, if you are not wanting to change, you may have never really met Christ. For in meeting Christ, you have become a new creature and old things will  pass away.

Paul had many accomplishments, and he pretended to put stock in all 7 of them: As an unsaved Jew, he could rightly relish in all 7. As a redeemed believer, he could recount six of these accomplishments without shame, but one of them brought him tremendous regret and self-loathing. Paul was

  1. Circumcised the 8th day
  2. Of the stock of Israel
  3. Of the tribe of Benjamin
  4. A Hebrew of the Hebrews
  5. A Pharisee
  6. Zeal in persecuting the church
  7. Blameless as pertaining to the law

For you see, before he was redeemed, he was zealous in persecuting God’s church and was responsible for putting many Christians into prison. Paul said forgetting those things which are behind. I believe he could easily forget six of these but forgetting he prosecuted the church of God was a constant struggle. Paul was not only encouraging the Philippians believers to forget the past; he was again reminding himself to do the same. Only if we were more like God, when he forgives he forgets. Stop letting past failures detour your progress in following Christ today.

But what I want to do today, is to offer some of the best advice one Christian and give to another Christian. Forget those who have harmed you in the past. While this could relate to so many areas of abuse, I would like to focus on just one. Put out of your mind those who you respected and loved who caused you harm. Forget about those spiritual fathers and mothers who gave you advise; you followed that advice, and you now believe that advice to be detrimental. You trusted that person, and they let you down. You now look back on that portion of your life with remorse and regret. Remembrance of your past actions, clouds your present thoughts and steals your future dreams.

Paul says, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before. The words forgetting and reaching are both in the active tense. This means something you continue to do. You may have forgotten about unpleasant memories in the past but continue to forget about them in the future. Just as you continue to reach forth to those things which await you, continue to forget those memories which haunted you in the past. I like to define forgetting as willfully neglecting to remember.