Sins of the past
The Apostle Paul had heinous sins in his past. His particular sin was that he “fell for” radical religious beliefs and acted on them. As a radical Jew, he hunted-down Christians, tortured them, and killed them. Imagine that. Who knows what else he did. He himself called himself “the worst sinner of all” (1 Timothy 1:12-17 – note verse 15).
Well, he did not stay there. The apostle Paul left that past. He was repentant in his heart. He turned. He repented: Turned around and went the opposite direction. He repented of those sins he had committed. How ’bout you?
There was no callous disregard for his sins, nor for how it impacted those he sinned against. He acknowledged all of it before God. And he purposed in his heart (like Daniel: Daniel 1:8) “that he would not defile himself”.
His own love for us,
by the fact that
while we were still sinners,
Christ died for us.
– Romans 5:8
Paul says, I am continually, consciousely, purposely forgetting all those things of my past, what is behind me. I leave them back there, behind me. And now — I press on, squeaky clean….
“…one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the [heavenly] prize….” – Verses 13-14 of Philippians 3:12-15
Read the full context of this passage:
“Not that I have already [e]grasped it all or have already become perfect, but I press on if I may also take hold of that [f]for which I was even taken hold of by Christ Jesus. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not regard myself as having taken hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Therefore, all who are [g]mature, let’s have this attitude….”
– Verses 12-15 of Philippians 3:7-21 (Optionally: Read the broader context of the passage, Philippians 3:7-21 (AMP version).
“Turning”, in the biblical sense, is not the flippant phrase of movies saying, “Forget about it!”
In the biblical sense of “forgetting”, Paul the Apostle is telling us: Once you have repented: leave it behind.
Trust the forgiveness by God.
Turn over a new leaf
Philippians 2:1-18 is the “New Leaf” passage, a description of “the way to live” as a true Christian. What you do once you repent before Jesus – is, you turn over a new leaf (dictionary references), as it were, (not as the world does it, but as Scripture shows us):
- “To begin anew; to change one’s ways: Example at dictionary.com: “Since he was grounded, Larry has turned over a new leaf and does his homework every night.”
- Example at collinsdictionary.com: “If you say that you are going to turn over a new leaf, you mean that you are going to start to behave in a better or more acceptable way.”
Once you have repented you start to behave as Christ would act. You live-out the better life of Christ – doing “that which is acceptable to God”.
The non-stop work of God inside you and me leads us. This is called “sanctification” (Romans 6:18-19). Full of the Spirit, yeilded more and more to Him, we reject the ways of the Enemies of our soul more and more. We are faithful — little by little. God takes care of sinners – bringing us closer and closer to Himself.
- Verse 2 of Philippians 2:1-18: “make my joy complete [b]by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.”
What drives you, day by day, to do the things you do, to act the way you choose to act? Those who are faithful to Christ – are not faithful all-at-once, and faultless thereafter. Those who are faithful to the end – are faithful over time, little-by-little.
Faithfulness is a process. We live, we try, we fail, we sin – but the faithful then repent, turn to God again, and move on in faith, believing God that we will be stronger next time. The faithful develop a pattern of an overcoming faith. The pattern we strive towards, each day, is: we live, we conquer, we act by the power of the Holy Spirit. Believers do not accept sin in their life as normal and acceptable before God.
– Source: Being faithful, little by little
With a purposeful effort, talking to God constantly, each of us must force our mind to not dwell on what our conscience brings-up from the past. Memory is a powerful force within us. And the Apostle Paul recognized that.
“Don’t Let It Bring You Down”
– Neil Young song
“Lord, I have failed you miserably. I have sinned (sin: “done that which God is not happy to see”). I acknowledge that Your Ways are not my ways. And I turn from my sin, turn to you, admitting my weakness, and I thank you (thank you thank you thank you) for your forgiveness. I thank you that you have now forgiven me.
Thank you that I can stand now, confident before You, clean before you [squeaky clean], because you are a forgiving God. I so, so want to never sin before you. I pray your Spirit within me will empower me to live righteously as I press on today.
leave it behind
We must give our Lord our best
In my personal Bible study yesterday morning, I read the description in 1 Kings 6 of Solomon’s construction of the first temple. After he completed the structure itself, he then finished the “Most Holy Place” (v. 16) where only the high priest could enter, and that – only on the Day of Atonement.
Even though only one person would see this room, Solomon “overlaid it with pure gold. He also overlaid an altar of cedar. And Solomon overlaid the inside of the house with pure gold” (vv. 20–21). He “made two cherubim of olivewood” for the inner sanctuary (v. 23) and overlaid them with gold (v. 28), then “carved engraved figures of cherubim and palm trees and open flowers, in the inner and outer rooms” (v. 29). He even “overlaid with gold” the “floor of the house” (v. 30).
The king spared no expense or detail in building a private room for worship and sacrifice that only God and the high priest would see. From this fact, I noted this life principle:
we must give our Lord
in private worship
to experience his best
in public service.
…like the piglet
that suckles with the kitten’s mother cat.
The piglet thinks he’s
because he likes the milk.
But he’s only a pig, not a cat.
*See Hebrews 3 & 4 in: It is what it is
A growing number of so-called “Christians” are following their own beliefs – not the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Are you truly following the real Jesus, or merely really really liking the church experience?
I for one do not want to arrive in God’s Courts with filthy rags on, stinking of sin – before the God of the Universe. How ’bout you?
leave it behind
Isaiah 55:6-7 Good News Translation (GNT)