Out With The Old

     2015 is just about history and 2016 is just around the corner. “Out with the old and in with the new.” We repeat these same old sayings year after year for the simple reason that those old sayings are true. There is nothing we can do in the past and very little we can do about it. Except perhaps to put the past behind us and prepare for the future.

     I think of Paul when I think of this subject. He was one fellow who could have allowed his past to cripple his future. As he said, he had done many things contrary to the will of God (Acts 26:9). But Paul learned better. He summed up this transition in Philippians 3:13-14: “Brethren, O do not count myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are before and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

     Paul’s past was definitely not good. He had allowed his achievements to blind his spiritual eye. He had given in to ambition so as to act as a tool of the first century Pharisaic establishment in Jerusalem. He had even allowed himself to justify murder. He had good reason to consider himself the chief of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). We know that his past was not a pleasant thing for him to remember, even as a forgiven child of God (Romans 7 and 8).

     But he also knew the power of God’s grace and mercy. He knew that the blood of Christ had made him free from his past sins (Romans 6:1-6). So in that sense he forgot them. The context of Philippians indicates not a mere wiping of the memory (for who can do that?) but the recognition that the past is past and must be left behind.

     The only way for us to leave our pasts behind is to have the right and proper direction for the future. That is precisely what Paul did. It was his focus. “This one thing I do” he said. The idea here is that there is a thing to be done of primary importance. It is the “one” thing to the exclusion of all other things. That one thing was to press toward his new and forever goal.

     So it is for us today. Whatever is in our past needs to be left there. If it is sin we must repent of it and leave it in the dust of the old. Then we move toward the new. We may falter along the way but let our direction be clear: that singular prize of life in Jesus Christ.