Philippians 3:13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
This passage of scripture instructs us in a very important aspect of the Christian's life, that of not dwelling on past sins and errors, but rather of focusing our eyes on the prize. Even though we cannot hit a delete button in our memory as far as our history goes, yet by the grace of God we can become so involved in our deepening relationship with Christ, and the complete forgiveness that He gives, that our past sins fade into oblivion after some time. This does not mean that we are not to learn from our past mistakes, however, the fact that God has forgiven us should be sufficient reason to rise from the ashes of despair and remorse, looking with the eye of faith to the dawning of a new day when sin shall be no more.
The apostle Paul who penned the above words of holy writ, had a whole lot of sinful history to forget, for in his past life as a member of the honored council of the Jews, he had actively persecuted, and imprisoned many Christians, in so much that the newly formed church of Christ was scattered abroad, for fear of him. Let's read:
Acts 7:57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, 58 And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul. 59 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.
Acts 8:1 And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. 3 As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.
Paul would have certainly been sometimes haunted by the dying images of Christians who were stoned to death, and his ears would sometimes hear the cry of those who had been persecuted for their faith in Christ, yet through all of these experiences, he learned the valuable lesson of not wallowing in self pity, nor did he permit the voice of conscience to harass or dissuade him from pressing on into the future with energy and zeal born of God. The Lord had forgiven him, and had also given him a new lease on life, therefore he had purposed in his mind to serve God with fervor from thenceforth, because of the mercy and kindness that was accorded him.
In our day and in our own experiences, we also should turn our backs permanently on the past, only using the memory of mistakes as stepping stones, or as beacons of warning. We should never form the habit of regurgitating or even speaking about the errors we indulged and practiced, except it be to show God's great deliverance, or so that others might be encouraged to give their lives to Christ. When sins have been committed by ourselves or by others against us, we should ask God to give us the spirit of forgetfulness, so that the bad experiences do not become all-absorbing themes in our minds.
We cannot of ourselves prevent past experiences from being flashed into our memory at random, for our minds are like a library that stores all of our information, whether good or bad, and sometimes the mind can bring up these experiences, or portions of them without us asking it to. However, the Bible gives us the assurance that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us, and therefore, through prayer and the power of the Holy Ghost, bad memories can be sent back into never land, and replaced with songs of praise and thanksgiving.
We therefore end with a passage of scripture which encourages us to put our past sins permanently behind our backs, for this is what forgiveness entails. Let's read:
Psalms 103:8 The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. 10 He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. 11 For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. 12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. 13 Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.
May God grant us His grace so that this passage of scripture may be the beginning of a brand new day in our hearts. "Good night" and God bless!