Friday, March 12, 2021

An Imperfect Past

Friday, March 12. 2021 

Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 3:12-14

We all have things in our past that we regret. Sometimes, that regret becomes a noose of shame around our neck and we cannot get past it. The consequences of past sins may affect our lives long after the deed, but when we repent, we are redeemed. Even though we may never forget our past mistakes, we must shake them off and run forward in the freedom and victory we have in Christ. 

1.    We all have an imperfect past.  
None of us can look at our past and see nothing we aren’t ashamed of.  We all have blemishes and stains that we’d just as soon no one knew about or that we’d just as soon forget.  The apostle Paul was no different.  He had a pretty ugly past in persecuting the church of Christ, and my guess is that he had plenty of time to reflect on the shame of that.

Paul was a religious guy even before he met Christ.  He was a Pharisee; he was an up and coming religious leader who had the trust of the religious establishment during the early days of the Church.  He could quote Scripture, he attended the synagogue probably every week; he had it going.  All of his religion didn’t keep him from having a past that he didn’t treasure as time went by.

You might have grown up in church, you might have been involved in church, you might have been a church leader of some sort; but just the same, you have an imperfect past.  It’s imperfect because of the presence of sin in your life. It’s imperfect because you have chosen your way over God’s way many times.  And there’s no way to get away from that fact. 

2.    We don’t have to be a slave to that past.
Paul could have said, “Look. I put people in prison, and I voted for the death penalty for Christians I arrested. There is no hope for me, and there is no way I could ever be used by Christ.”  But he insisted here that he had something worth moving on for. 

He could look back on the fact that Christ redeemed him from his past, and was continually working in him.  He says here that in spite of his past, he was moving on.  How does he say it? “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what’s ahead.”  He recognized his past, but he refused to be a slave to it.  Even now as a mature believer he knew there was more.

Ashes are never the end of the story that God writes. He is a miracle working God who can work miracles in our lives and redeem our stories for His glory. How many people look at their past circumstances and decide that it’s just not worth trying anymore?  Way too many, that’s for sure.  Some might think they’ve got it all together and don’t need to work on strengthening their relationship with Christ.  But if we look to Paul here as our example, we can see that it’s never too late, and our circumstances don’t need to stand in the way of our effectiveness for Christ.

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 
To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. 2 Peter 3:18

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