I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
- Philippians 3:13-14
Everyone who has run a race knows that you can break your stride by looking over your shoulder to check out how your opponents are doing. Many races have been lost when the leader looked back. When you see that finish line, that's the time to give it everything you've got . . . because sometimes it's mere inches that separate one runner from another. You must stay focused.
This is the idea behind Paul's statement in Philippians 3:13-14. The apostle was saying, "Don't look back. Don't look behind you."
When God promises, "I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins" (Isaiah 43:25), He is not predicting a lapse in His memory. God is saying. "I will no longer hold your sin against you because my Son has paid for it at the cross."
Therefore, we need to do what God does: forget our past. Yes, we certainly need to learn from our mistakes and remember some of the bitter lessons we have learned. But we no longer need to be controlled by our past.
That is what Paul meant by "forgetting what is behind." Think about the horrible things Paul had done. He shared responsibility for the death of Stephen and had to carry that in his conscience until his final day. He knew that he was responsible for terrible deeds. But he was able to put his past in the past. And we need to do the same.
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