Forgetting What Lies Behind

Have you ever taken the time to think about the power of your memory? Your past experiences, both good and bad, affect the way you interact with the world and your outlook for the future. One interesting thing about memory is that it’s something we seemingly don’t have control over. There are some memories that seem to stick in our minds without our consent and others that we struggle to recall even though we want to remember. Moreover, our brain has a defense mechanism that causes us to subconsciously “forget” events that are painful or traumatic, without us making a choice to do so. With that in mind, it is remarkable how many times God actually commands us in His Word to remember or to forget! Let’s look at a couple of examples:

“Remember His covenant forever, the word that He commanded, for a thousand generations.” (1 Chr. 16:15)

“Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he uttered.” (Ps. 105:5)

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” (Is. 43:18-19)

“Get wisdom; get insight; do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.” (Pr. 4:5)

Why is it, then, that God tells us to remember some things and to forget others when our memory is something that we don’t seem to have a lot of control over? Well, the word for remember in the Bible actually means “to call to mind” and is sometimes translated that way. While we can’t choose to “erase” a memory, we do have power over that which we allow our mind to dwell on! Many people let their memories dictate the direction of their lives and they think on whatever comes into their mind, but that’s not scriptural! The Bible says to “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5) and to “be transformed by the renewing of our minds in Him” (Rom. 12:2).

We actually do get to choose what we remember and what we forget, in Him. See, when we’re born again into the Kingdom of God, we are new creations, absolutely fresh and pure, forgiven of every sin. One of the tactics of the enemy is to try to get Christians to forget that simple gospel truth and live as though they aren’t forgiven. 1 Peter 3:8 says,

“For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.”

Now, those Peter wrote about didn’t actually “forget” the gospel in the natural, but they were living with spiritual amnesia—as though they hadn’t been forgiven. This is what so many Christians do, and why so many people live in bondage to memories that should have no control over them. It doesn’t matter whether the memory is something you did that brings guilt or something that was done to you that brings pain or shame. In Christ, you are free from your past. You get to choose what you call to mind, and God commands us to “remember not the former things” while at the same time reminding us not to forget what He’s done and who He is. Our history with God is important and it’s essential to remember, to call to mind, those things that He’s done, in order to build our faith to move forward. David said,

“I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your wonders of old.” (Ps. 77:11)

We must dwell on the promises of God and forget those things that would keep us from moving forward in Him. Paul said it this way:

“But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:11)

When God looks at you, He doesn’t see your past—so you shouldn’t either. You can’t live defined by memories that are shadows of a crucified life. It doesn’t matter what it was because we are new creations by the blood of Jesus! The reality is that many Christians live with spiritual amnesia, forgetting who they are in Christ, and allowing the memory of who they used to be to keep them from moving forward. They let the lies of the enemy keep them in a cycle of living below the abundance of the gospel without even realizing it. As Peter said, “they forget that they were cleansed.” This week, I want to encourage you to remember. Remember who you are in Christ. You are a blood-washed child of God, called with purpose and redeemed by His love. You are not who the world thinks you are and you are not who the accuser says you are. You are only who God declares you are and He sees you in the blood of His son. Call to mind all of His promises, this week. Remember the truth of His Word. Remember what He’s spoken to you and over you. Remember the miracles He’s worked in your life and the lives of those around you! At the same time, I want to encourage you to forget. Forget the former things. Forget the lies of the enemy. Forget the mistakes that you made and who you were before Christ. There are things that need to be remembered and things that need to be forgotten. By the power of His Spirit and the water of His Word, your mind can be brand new! This week, forget all that lies behind and push on towards the future that God has for you, in Christ Jesus—the One who is in you—the Hope of Glory!

No Comments