Brethren, 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, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:13–14).
The Apostle Paul was saved about 30 years before he wrote to the Philippians. He had won many spiritual battles in that time. He had grown much in those years, but he candidly confessed he had not yet been made perfect (v. 12). He still had more spiritual heights to climb and the only way he could attain this was by forgetting those things which were behind him and reaching for those things which were ahead.
If Paul remembered the past, his life would be loaded with regrets and burdened enough to slow down his progress “toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Thus, he chose to forget those things which are behind and stay focused on those things ahead.
Regrets can haunt us and keep us preoccupied with the past. Yet two truths will keep the past from stealing our joy in the present: our identification with Jesus and our faith in God’s sovereignty. We must remember that we stand before God on the basis of what He has done, not what we have done. And we can trust that God, who through His foreknowledge, knew about our mistakes before we made them and planned to compensate accordingly. Nothing we have done has surprised Him.
God never asked us to look back and lament about our shortcomings. So, it is pointless for us to live with regrets. We must move toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Do memories of the past hound you? Take an active stance against them. Be assured that the enemy’s accusations are irrelevant once you have found your identity in the perfect Son of God. Many of the heroes of the faith in Scripture failed, yet God sovereignly worked out His purposes despite their failures. Rest in the present and look forward with hope. Nothing in your past can thwart God’s purpose for you.