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Forgetting What Lies Behind (Phil 3:13-14)

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. - Philippians 3:13-14

So many people in our world are held in bondage by their past.

They look to their past to define who they are in the present, and who they are going to become in the future.

They base their identity on the actions and decisions that have led them to the present moment.

But for the Christian, our identity does not lie in our past.

Our identity does not even lie in ourselves at all.

It lies fully in Christ.

Paul tells us in Colossians, "For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God" - Col 3:3

And elsewhere, "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." - Gal 2:20

This means that our actions cannot affect our identity, because our identity has nothing to do with us.

Outside of Christ, our identity flows from our actions. When we do good, we are good. When we do bad, we are bad. When we do well in school we are smart. When we do bad in school we are stupid. This is simply how we are taught to think as children.

But in Christ our identity does not flow from our actions, our actions flow from our identity.

When our actions align with our identity in Christ we will experience ever increasing union with Him - divine bliss inexplicable. When our actions don't align with our identity in Christ we will experience separation from Him - conviction of sin. This conviction is not to be confused with condemnation.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus - Rom 8:1

Condemnation is impossible when we are secure in our Christian identity. It can come to us but it cannot stick to us. Conviction on the other hand will be welcomed by the genuine Christian, as he realizes this is the only path leading to true self improvement.

Conviction is like learning to play the piano, hitting the wrong key, and hearing the ugly sound it makes. It's better to recognize the mistake and experience momentary discomfort than it is to be oblivious to the mistake and keep making it.

Condemnation is identifying with the mistake.

Conviction is recognizing the mistake, surrendering it wholly to God, and then moving forward with no intention of making it again.

If when we sin, we have every intention of committing the same sin again in the future, then we voluntarily place ourselves under God's condemnation. We have made ourselves God's enemy. But we must remember that this is our doing not God's.

In Christ every moment is new.

"You can't teach an old dog new tricks" because dogs are unable to believe the gospel. But there is no limitation on the extent humans can change except the limitations they impose upon themselves.

Addictions and bad habits can take years to overcome using modern psychological and therapeutic approaches. With Christ chains can be broken instantaneously. But this can only happen when we decide to crucify our old identity and step into our new one which has nothing to do with us and everything to do with Christ. It can only happen when we truly forget what lies behind us, and strain forward to what lies ahead of us which is the crown of glory prepared for those who love God.

This approach is deemed foolish by the world, but we know that God has "chosen what is foolish in the world to shame the wise."

The only prerequisite for freedom is unwavering childlike faith in the One who has liberated our souls.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ,

he is a new creation.

The old has passed away;

behold, the new has come.

2 Cor 5:17

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