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Forgetting can get you into a lot of trouble. Like forgetting someone's name, or maybe forgetting an appointment, or maybe you forgot your homework. Or, "The dog ate it." Yeah, uh-huh, or you wouldn't want to forget your wedding anniversary. Oh, no... No, that can cause trouble. But forgetting is a basic skill for people who want to be emotionally free and spiritually alive. Oh, some kinds of forgetting really help. No, not the accidental kind. We're talking about the deliberate kind.
Now, our word for today from the Word of God is about deliberate forgetting and it's in Philippians 3:13. Paul is actually using an Olympic runners' example when he says, "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." Did you notice that word forget? He says, "Like a good runner, I'm not looking back. I know when you look back you lose the race. So you keep your eyes on the track; you keep your eyes on the tape; you keep your eyes on the goal. Don't waste any energy looking at the ground you've already covered. "Forget what is behind..."
See, that is actually a fundamental characteristic of a Christian who's going to make daily progress in his relationship with Christ - the ability to forget. Forget what? Well, three things about the past that we tend to keep remembering. First of all, if you're going to grow spiritually you have to forget your past achievements. Earlier in Philippians 3, Paul listed all of his great spiritual achievements, which are greater than anything I think you or I could list. And he said, "None of them really matter. They're like garbage."
There was an airline that said, "We've got to earn our wings every day." Well, that's kind of how it is spiritually. You can't run on spiritual memories. You know, "I'm okay today because of some great yesterdays I had spiritually." You've got to be restless for more progress, so you forget the past achievements.
Secondly, you've got to forget the past failures. You might have said, "Well, I really, really was going real well out there. I was humming for the Lord, and all of a sudden things caved in and I goofed. And I don't know if I can ever get back on track. I think I can't." It's like Peter when he'd fished all night and caught nothing, Jesus said, "Go out there and fish again. You'll catch more than you ever have or ever dreamed." Forget the past failures. Get up! None of those failures have to matter today.
And the other thing then that you're going to have to forget if you're going to make spiritual progress is past damages. You've been hurt, you've been wounded. You know what? Bitterness is a terrible bondage. It's like emotional cancer, and maybe right now it's hard for you to get out from under that person; those incidents that have hurt you. But if you're going to get on with your life spiritually and go for His gold, you've got to forget the past damages. You know, the Bible says, "Forgive as the Lord forgave you." So get God's divine eraser and say, "God, help me to erase this and move on and set both of us free."
See, the enemy loves to have you dwell on the past. I'll tell you why. Because it can't be changed. He wants you to think about those past failures because you can't do anything about them. He wants you to think about those past damages because you can't change those, instead of what you can affect, which is this 24-hour period of time and a future that has yet to be written.
Turn the page on the previous chapters. Forget! Press for the gold and don't look back.