It happened again. At midnight on January 1, a new year was birthed. The ball at Times Square touched ground, lovers shared a kiss, and a new beginning was delivered.
And 2021 became history, as 2022 proclaimed promises of a fresh start.
2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” This is, perhaps, my favorite, most often quoted scripture. It succinctly explains what it means to be “born again”. It portrays the result of Jesus’ forgiveness; a do over, where we enter a new life, redeemed from past failures and sin.
In Philippians 3:13,14 we’re told, “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
“Forget what is behind”? That’s interesting, and problematic.
Our difficulty, or unwillingness, to leave the past in the past, is a huge challenge as we endeavor to mature in our faith. It is not possible to “press on toward the goal”, if we remain wallowing in the muck and mire of our times gone by.
But how? How can we slog through the sludge of our former identity, and rise to the glory of being a new creature in Christ? How can we “forget” what we left behind?
The answer, in one word, is faith.
Let me explain. The promises in the Bible will not occur if we don’t believe. There are many things that happen in Spirit, that may not occur in our lives unless we decide to believe them.
That’s the essence of what “faith” is, believing the truth of God’s Word, even if it is contrary to our life experience.
We know when God forgives our sins, He forgets our sins. However, we also know that Father God is omniscient (all-knowing), and is not plagued with Heavenly dementia. So, how is it He forgets, while still knowing?
He “forgets” our sins, by choosing to see us as completely forgiven in Christ. He casts “all our iniquities into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19). He separates us from our sins; “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:11,12).
You cannot entirely erase your past memories. But, like God, we can choose not to dwell on them.
Instead of remaining super-glued to the image of who we once were, we can forgive ourselves. We can vacate the mudhole, accept God’s cleansing, and move forward in faith.
And when the accuser of the brethren tries to throw the darts of condemnation at you, just tell him he has the wrong address. You don’t live there anymore.
“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)
Here’s praying God’s best for you, as we start anew in ’22.
Dave Hinman is Pastor Emeritus, Dove Church Wilmington. He can be reached at [email protected] .