I am what most folks would consider a Pack Rat. I hate throwing anything away. Just ask my wife. I was going through one of my file cabinets of notes and messages I have given over the years and today’s post is taken from a Message I gave almost 3 decades ago. As I was trying to put all those notes and messages into some form of order, today’s message material jumped out at me. You know how our Lord works when He has a specific word He wants you to impart. Although I’ve updated the material for today, the way it still reads is a bit different than the way I write these days. This is why a bit of an explanation is in order.
When I first accepted Christ and He called me into ministry, I was much more formalistic than I am these days. Part of the reason for that was my early biblical training and how I saw those around me acting. One has to remember that we are talking over 30 years ago. Like most who have not only aged some but who have walked with the Lord for a good many years, we mellow out considerably, gain a grain of wisdom (hopefully) and have actually seen and experienced life itself in all of its strangeness. You might say, the sandpaper of God has smoothed out a lot of those square corners – not that He isn’t still busy at work sanding. This is why my post today may sound a bit formal but the truths remain.
In our ministry we come in contact with many who the enemy has them believing that their past is just too bad for them to even consider coming to the Lord. They have yet to understand or feel the forgiveness of Christ and His redemptive power.
Hebrews 12:1-2 says. "Lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the Race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus."
Although it is disputed by some, it is generally accepted that Paul wrote the book of Hebrews and when he says LEAVE BEHIND your past sins (excuse the paraphrasing). He goes on, yes they have been many and great, more than you can count. But if you have confessed and forsaken them, they have been put away, "as far as the east is from the west.'" Nothing could be more explicit than 1John 1:9. It is useless to brood over the past. God has buried it in the grave of Christ. Go and sin no more!
God is says through Paul, leave behind your bad habits that encumber you. You know what they are, and how they cling - ill-temper, jealousy, pride, evil-speaking, and many more! And yes you have fallen again and again, overtaken by them, tripped up, your robes have and will become stained and torn from time to time. He points out that regardless of these facts, needs to stop and make his or her mark on the grass from which they start to run the race. The command to put off the old man is in the definite tense (Col. 3:8-9). It denotes one sudden strong act of the will, God-nerved and God-empowered. This then is the hour when you must strike for your liberty "Ye have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God."
Paul continues to explain that we must leave behind your accomplished ideals. They were once far in front and above us. As we climbed they seemed almost inaccessible, and that mocking voice rang out their defiance in our attempt. But by the grace of God things that once we dreamed of are now realized, and we are sitting on the peak that once seemed to laugh at us in scorn. But we must leave that behind! Look up! look forward! After all aren’t there fresh ideals calling to us? Leave behind ones attainments and strike our tents so to speak. One battle is fought, but yet a stronger foe bars the way immediately in front us. It’s just suicidal to sit back and rest.
The best way to leave the past behind us, is to press forward. The Spirit of God bids us "run with patience the race set before us, looking unto Jesus." He is our Forerunner, always before us, always leading us on. He not only goes with us but is always in the very thick of the fight right along side us.
If you have ever watched a bunch of boy running a race, you might have seen how the boy who is running for the goal might strip himself of one and another article of clothing in his eagerness to win the prize. What their cost is, isn’t important so long as he wins the race. As we run the race for the crown of life, we also must loose those things that burden us down and impede our forward progress.
Back then I was long winded. Today I am prone to put it more simple. Holding on to your past sins that are under the blood of Christ only holds you back from being used in a much greater way by our Lord.