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 Philippians 3:13
Forgetting – Brother Lawrence practiced the continual presence of God by immediately confessing any action or attitude that interfered in any way with open communication with God and then forgetting about it. Confession was followed by release. He never bothered himself any more about confessed sin. He refused to allow his past disobedience to alter the character of his present obedience. Once confessed, it was gone. And so he could return to the full enjoyment of God at his side.
We need such a lesson! It is the general habit of believers today to practice a different kind of release. John Eldredge calls it “sin management.” We try to handle, negotiate, cajole or otherwise correct our sins. We interact with our disobedience as though somehow we will find a way to control it. We look for the secret of sin eradication. There is no secret for the simple reason that sin is insane. Sin is not able to be managed because it is completely irrational. There is only one way to deal with sin – confession and repentance – and then forgetting what lies behind. As long as we try to handle sin ourselves, we are acting as though there is a reasonable way to deal with this. But anything that has the sole purpose of bringing about destruction, death and despair is hardly reasonable. Treat sin for what it is – insanity. Repent and walk away, never letting it bother you that you were once insane. You have been forgiven and put back into a right mind. Let the old go.
Paul uses the Greek verb epilanthano. He suggests a deliberate act. This is a matter of the will. I will no longer dwell on my past. I will neglect its siren call. I will forget my past guilt and shame. Instead of all this insanity, I will press on toward the goal – a life in Jesus. My fellow travelers in Twelve Step programs would say, “Yes, you can spend a fortune with a psychiatrist figuring out how you got into the ditch, but the real issue is how to get out of the ditch.” Getting out is rather simple: confession, repentance and surrender. Neglect the past. Put away the old self. Strip yourself of all those sin management activities. Forget it! And press on.
The only person in the world who is not a victim of the past is the Christian, because the Christian is a product of God’s future. I am what my life will become, not what it has been.