|Philippians 3:12-14 |
12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect,1 but I press on, so that I may apprehend that for which I am apprehended by Christ Jesus. [Paul is being modest and advises all to remain humble and modest, not boasting of their position in Christ. In these next verses he is telling perfect men to follow him as the example of humility. See Footnotes 1 and Footnote 3 to verse 15 below.]
13 Brethren, I do not consider myself to have apprehended; but this one thing I do: forgetting those things that are past, and reaching forth to those things that are ahead,2 [From the Word of the Lord within: "Once you have expressed sorrow over the past, it is redundant to bring it up again. Forget the feelings of having past failed. Through guilt you can become entangled again. Forgetting what lies behind, we press onward."]
14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
2 forgetting those things that are past, and reaching forth to those things that are ahead, From the Word of the Lord within: "Once you have expressed sorrow over the past, it is redundant to bring it up again. Forget the feelings of having past failed. Through guilt you can become entangled again. Forgetting what lies behind, we press onward."
If we wallow in our guilt over past sins, we reach despair, losing all hope, making it very easy to return to our old ways of sin. If we lose our hope and enter despair, then we no longer have the motivation to seek the Lord's changing grace, and we look for comfort elsewhere — the lusts and pleasures of the world, thus becoming entangled in sin again.
The Lord only exposes those sins that we are unwilling to admit, face, or those of which we are not even conscious. What we regret having done in the past, He will not even bring up the first time. The Lord will never go over our past sins twice. However, the devil will repeatedly bring up our past sins, and he will repeatedly imply that we have made mistakes which disqualify us; but his accusations are lies and not to be believed because the Lord's way is totally the opposite. To the Lord, the past is past, and if we are resolved to be different, the past is history forgotten by Him, and to be forgotten by us. When we enter union with Him, He is going to sprinkle His blood in our consciences so that we can't remember our past sins, making it possible to stand in His and the Father's presence with joy and peace, but without guilt or sorrow.
If we let ourselves be condemned for the past, our despair can not only cause us to lose hope, but also cause us to become reduced to self-pity. We can feel sorry for ourselves, believing we have been treated unjustly, perhaps even getting angry at God. The defense is obvious: God is perfectly just for He is by definition just and fair; God is pure; God is total love; God does not make mistakes for He is perfect; so the problem is us, not Him. Now we must bring to mind that He does not keep record of our past wrongs that we have once faced up to, and that He is standing by, waiting to help us to become further sin free, pure, and holy — but we must put aside those doubts and feelings of failure, renew our hope of salvation, trust in his kindness and mercy, depend on his infinite power, and press on to purity, holiness, joy, peace, love, even union with Him in his presence forever.
When in sorrow we find ourselves to have dropped our cross and fallen into the dust; we stand up, dust ourselves off, pick up our cross, and press on to the everlasting joy awaiting us at the end our journey.