Grace to Forget
Reverend Dr. Philip Lee's sermon from Lord’s Day 2nd Service on September 29, 2019
Forget the painful past
As we live our lives, there is a past that we have. There are good and bad things we don’t forget. There are memories we regret of--our mistakes where we have failed and pains in our hearts that we have received from others that tear us apart. It is these memories that we need to forget so that we can live our lives in comfort. When we don’t forget these painful memories, then our lives become unstable and weary. God has given us the grace to forget certain things; therefore, we must receive that grace and not hold onto the memories of the past.
We must forget what lies behind to reach what is ahead
The Apostle Paul confessed, “Forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Phil 3:13-14). Paul let go of all the mistakes and deeds he had made in the past that would disqualify him as an apostle of Jesus Christ. There are two types of people who relate to their past.
Those who cling to their past
There are two types of people who cling to the past. One is those who boast about how famous or accomplished they were. But if you ask what they are doing now, they have nothing to say. The other type is those who regret with tears the mistakes and failures of their past. People like this regret their past with tears for their entire lives. However, regardless of how sad or regretful we are of our past, the past itself cannot change. Thus, it is better to forget that past. After being rescued from Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot’s wife turned back and she revisited all the memories of the past and turned into a pillar of salt (Gen 19:26). She was obsessed over her past, and in the end, she lost her salvation. In the end-time, there will be people who look back at their past and lose their salvation, just like Lot’s wife (Luke 17:32).
Those who forget the past and look forward to a new future
For this type of people, the mistakes and even the successes of their past become the foundation for their future. Our future is in the hand of God, and we must be assured of this. The future of the one who trusts in God is bright and there will be a new future that will unfold (Psa 16:5). Our times that will come in the future are in the hands of God (Psa 31:5). Therefore, our future is in the hand of God. So let us not remember the past but forget the past. Let us toss it aside, look toward the future, and trust it in the hands of God. When we do this, our future will become brighter and hopeful. Our future will cover over our past and there will be a great work of success.
Why must we forget?
We must forget the past in order to receive a new blessing. There are people who have many grudges. Joseph was afflicted by many people, including his own brothers who betrayed him and sold him in Egypt (Gen 37:36).
Secondly, Joseph became the servant of Potiphar, and Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce Joseph. However, Joseph took off his outer garment that she laid hold of and he ran away. Potiphar’s wife gave a false testimony of Joseph and Potiphar threw him into prison (Gen 39:17). While in prison, Joseph was also betrayed by the chief cupbearer of Pharaoh and baker of Potiphar. Both had dreams, and Joseph interpreted them. And accordingly, within three days, the baker was killed; however, the cupbearer was restored to his position. Joseph said to the chief cupbearer; “You will be restored, please remember me for I committed no sin and was cast into prison.” When the cupbearer was released from prison, he entirely forgot about Joseph (Gen 40:23). However, by the providence of God, the king of Egypt Pharaoh had a dream which Joseph interpreted, and Pharaoh made Joseph prime minister underneath Pharaoh. Joseph received a signet ring from Pharaoh. By word, Pharaoh was the king; however, all authority was given to Joseph. Joseph forgot his past and did not go after Potiphar and his wife because of their betrayal nor his brothers who betrayed him. Joseph was able to do this because he was able to forget his past. As a testimony of his not remembering the past, Joseph names his first son Manasseh which means to “forget” and his second son Ephraim which means to be “fruitful” (Gen 41:51-52). Thus, when we entrust everything to God, He will give you more blessings than the troubles of the past and pour them upon you.
Thirdly, we must forget to receive the forgiveness of God. Those who do not forget they hate others and cannot forgive others. If you cannot forgive others, then God will not forgive you (Matt 18:35). Those who cannot forgive others have no love. In this case, hate is stronger than love. Thus, if love is stronger than hate, then you are able to forgive. We must keep fervent in our love for love covers a multitude of sins (1 Pet 4:8). If we hate our brother, then spiritually, we are a murderer (1 John 3:15). Therefore, we must let go of hate and enmity. If there is hate inside of you, then until now, you are in darkness (1 John 2:9). We have life when we love one another, but those who do not love abide in death and are stuck and cannot move forward (1 John 3:14). We must be able to overlook a transgression which is glory so that we can live a life that is glorious and of light (Prov 19:11).
Conclusion:The life that is able to forget is walking the path of forgiveness of Jesus Christ. Jesus spoke seven words on the cross, but His first words were; “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). If Jesus does not forget our past and remembers our past, then we will receive incredible judgment and punishment. But Jesus forgave all of our sins and forgot them. The Apostle Paul also forgot his own past and no longer believed in people but believed in Jesus Christ and only moved forward towards the goal, the upward call of God (Phil 3:12-13). God rewards those who seek Him (Heb 11:6; Rev 22:12). Therefore, when we go forward with this mission of proclaiming the Word of Redemptive History that has been entrusted to us, there is a great blessing.