Philippians 3:18 Yet, my brothers, I do not consider myself to have “arrived”, spiritually, nor do I consider myself already perfect. But I keep going on, grasping ever more firmly that purpose for which Christ grasped me. My brothers, I do not consider myself to have fully grasped it even now. But I do concentrate on this: I leave the past behind and with hands outstretched to whatever lies ahead I go straight for the goal—my reward the honor of being called by God in Christ. ~Phillips Translation
Clearing the past is the process we call forgiveness. People who dwell with the details of the past are people who do not live out forgiveness. Forgiveness is the clearing of the past, which means it is removed as if it never happened. Now, some people say, and I am one of those people, that you cannot forget what you have learned from the past, but you do live in forgiveness as to how you remember.
For example, when you are betrayed by a friend or a loved one, you feel that betrayal long after it happens. In fact, that betrayal will keep you away from that person for the rest of your life. This unforgiveness is not healthy for you to hold on to because unforgiveness will turn into bitterness and bitterness will influence your outlook on life. You can remember how you were betrayed and learn how to use that betrayal to teach you how to never betray someone in your life.
I spoke to a woman the other day who felt she was betrayed by her church. Her sense of betrayal came because she disagrees with her church on some issues. I felt her story of betrayal had merit, but the true test of her character will be how she handles the betrayal. This is true for all of us. How we react is equal to how we have been offended. What I mean by that is simple. Let's say someone offends you and you react with self-pity, anger, or resentment. These all become equally as bad as the original offense … why? Jesus said if someone slaps you on the right cheek offer them the left one too. Your reaction matters. If you respond in the same manner of the offense, you have become just as bad as the one who offended you.
I love the Phillips translation on this verse from Philippians because he draws out leaving the past and stretch out toward the future with the objective of honoring Christ. Living in unforgiveness is unbecoming for a Christian because Jesus doesn’t forgive you and then remind you of your sin. When He forgives you, that forgiveness is forever, and He will never bring up the offensive sin issue again. The Scripture tells us He removes the sin from you as far as the east is from the west.
God has forgiven you in Jesus Christ, which means He has cleared your past. There is nothing in your past that will make you feel guilty, ashamed, or rejected. Why? Your past doesn’t exist with Him, it has been removed. That is why we can be righteous today because there is nothing condemning us from yesterday. This is the reason that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is so incredible. It clears our past mistakes and gives us hope to live differently today.
We should be called ‘the difference makers’ because everything God does for us makes a difference in our lives and it starts when He clears our past. God didn’t create us to control our every move … He created us with the freedom to choose. That choice is prone to making mistakes. We choose our decisions, and those decisions will either lead us into temptation or deliver us from it. Only you and your decisions will stand before God someday, and those decisions will be the case against you in God’s court. That is why Jesus died upon the Cross so our decisions to sin will no longer hold us hostage in our lives. The freedom His grace gives to us in forgiveness is the gift only God can give … only God can forgive sin.
You may be a person whose past needs to be cleared and getting free from the guilt of the past is the most liberating experience we can have. Need that freedom? Need to have your past cleared, forgiven, and never seen again? Jesus is your forgiveness, He is your liberator, trust Him today as your Savior and Lord.
Challenging the Culture with Truth … Larry Kutzler