Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Don’t Look Back (04/19/12)
TITLE: Living Beyond Your Past
By Donna Wilcher
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Remembering what we were like before we gave our lives to Christ gives us a vivid reminder of what he has redeemed us from, giving us a gauge by which we can see how far we have come, and how far we still need to go. It’s like peering into a looking glass that reflects our true sin-nature and is an indication of what we may yet be capable of doing.
Looking at the things we have struggled with, will help us to be on guard against allowing ourselves to be drawn back into sins seductive embrace. If we let that guard down, we run the risk of being, “As a dog who returns to its vomit, so a fool who repeats his folly.” – Proverbs 26:11 – NKJV
On the other hand, lingering too long in the past opens the door for Satan, who has come to steal, kill and destroy our lives. One of the ways he does that is to attempt to keep us trapped in the guilt and shame of our past behaviors. He’s not just sitting passively by the wayside twiddling his thumbs, but is relentlessly accusing and reminding us of our past, or our present struggles with sin.
If we allow Satan to do so, it leaves us believing we are condemned, unworthy and inept, and we will stay trapped right where we are. His objective is to prevent us from moving forward to receive God’s agape love, forgiveness, grace, and mercy provided to us through our faith in Jesus the Christ; the Messiah, our wonderful Lord and Savior, and what he did on the cross.
Paul, in his letter to the believers in Philippi, encourages them, and us, by saying, “…I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead…” - Philippians 3:13 -NKJV.
If anyone had a reason to say and a desire to live his life this way, it was Paul. He had first-hand experience with how essential it is to get beyond the past. Looking back at his own prior behaviors and attitudes must have been very painful for him.
Before Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus, he was zealous in his hatred for Jesus and the Gospel message. He sought and gained permission from the Sanhedrin to hunt down, arrest, or kill anyone teaching, preaching, or believing in the Gospel message. His memories of the way he used to be must have been something that haunted him as he went about spreading the same message he so fervently tried to destroy.
Therefore, we must heed Paul's warning, not to linger in our past and dwell too long on what we may have done or stay trapped in our current situations. Otherwise, we will never “reach forward to those things which are ahead.”
How do we accomplish this?
Do we grit our teeth, buckle down, and rely on our own will power or wish and hope for the strength to pull it off? No. We cannot do it in our own human power or might, but by the Holy Spirit residing within us, who will give us a peace that passes all understanding, comfort us with his assurance of our salvation, and empower us with the strength we need to leave what lies behind, and press forward to the future.
Each day, we must lay down our lives at the Lord’s feet, as a living sacrifice, and allow the Holy Spirit to have control over our behaviors and attitudes. Then, and only then, will we be able to accomplish what he has set before us.
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