“I wish I were better at forgetting things!”
Have you ever heard anyone make that statement? It’s our ability to remember, not our ability to forget, that we usually want to develop. Yet, according to the Bible, forgetting can change our lives.
It can change our environment. It can help take us from failure to success, sickness to health, and poverty to abundance.
In fact, as born-again children of God, we can’t fully enjoy the victory that belongs to us in Jesus until we learn how to supernaturally forget.
If you don’t believe it, look at the life of the Apostle Paul. He was one of the most powerful believers this earth has ever seen. He faced more challenges, persecutions and hardships than most of us can even imagine. Yet he boldly declared, “In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ…. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Romans 8:37; 2 Corinthians 2:14; Philippians 4:13, NKJV).
Sometimes we’re tempted to think Paul was able to live in such triumph because he was some kind of super saint. We don’t even aspire to walk in his footsteps because we figure we’re just ordinary believers and he was something special. But Paul told us clearly that wasn’t the case. He said, “I am less than the least of all saints …” (Ephesians 3:8).
What, then, was the key to Paul’s amazing spiritual success? How did he live such a victorious life?
He answered those questions in his letter to the Philippians when he wrote these powerful words: “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, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).
To get the full impact of those verses, remove the bolded words (which weren’t in the original manuscripts but were added later by the translators) and read them again: “I count not myself to have apprehended but one thing – forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press …”
Can you see what Paul was saying there? He was telling us that there was one thing in life on which he knew he had a good grip. One thing he’d apprehended and developed the ability to do. He had learned to supernaturally forget his past and press forward into his God-ordained future. He had discovered the secret of leaving old things behind and moving ahead.
For Paul, that was a particularly remarkable accomplishment because his past was packed with atrocities that, naturally speaking, would be impossible to forget. Paul had spent years just before he was saved persecuting Christians. He had caught them in church and ordered them thrown into dungeons where many eventually died. He had actually supervised the murder of Stephen, holding the coats of those who hurled stones at him. Paul had watched approvingly as the heavy, jagged rocks crushed the body of one of the most beloved leaders of the early Church. He had personally heard Stephen cry out with his dying breath, “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge!”
Can you imagine how those memories must have tried to haunt Paul after he was saved? Can you imagine how frenzied the devil must have worked to remind Paul of what he had done – to make him feel unworthy to be a minister of the gospel?
Yet somehow Paul defeated those memories. Somehow he found a way to supernaturally forget his past. Clearly, if he could do it, you and I can too. We just need to know how.
To find out, all we have to do is return once again to his writings. In 2 Corinthians10, he explained the process: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; and having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience…” (verses 3-6).
NEXT: The Past – Part 2: Why Do We Let the Past Dictate Our Future?