Philippians 3 : 13 - 14, Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. NKJV
Deuteronomy 10 : 17 - 19, For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe. He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing. Therefore love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. NKJV
The Lord laid these two particular passages on my heart for a very specific reason. You will notice in Paul's letter to Philippi that he is instructing the Christians to forget their past and to press toward the goal for the prize of the upward calling in Christ. However, in the second passage from Deuteronomy, God is instructing the people through His prophet, Moses to remember from where He had brought them and to be kind toward strangers because they, too, were once strangers in the land of bondage.
If you take both passages at face value, it seems as if the Bible is contradicting itself; nevertheless, there is a harmony in them that makes for a wonderful story of redemption. First, let's breakdown Paul's writing. When we came to Christ, it required a step of faith and boldness. We knew in our hearts the sins that we had committed and the guilt that was associated with our sins. We also knew that God was fully aware of our past; therefore, we tended to feel somewhat intimidated by it all. Our mind wondered, "What will happen when I confess my sins to the Lord? Will He reject and despise me over my sin and make me feel condemned like others have done?" Consequently, it takes faith to approach God for forgiveness. Satan doesn't want us to know that God doesn't condemn us. As a result, he works overtime using guilt, shame, and fear to keep us away from God's forgiveness and grace.
Nevertheless, you overcame Satan's tactics, faced your fears, and took the guilt and shame of your past to the Father through the blood of Jesus and asked for His forgiveness. Wasn't it amazing when, instead of sensing condemnation, you felt the love of God fill your heart and the acceptance of the Lord when forgiveness was received? There is something glorious that transpires when a sinner gives the heavy burden of sin over to Jesus and receives His forgiveness in their hearts. It's a feeling of release that a believer never forgets.
Now let's address the passage from Deuteronomy. God is instructing the people through Moses to show love toward strangers because they were also once strangers in Egypt. In this passage, He wants them to remember from where He brought them, as former slaves in a strange land, so that they would be compassionate toward others. God didn't want them to remember the guilt and shame of slavery and how terrible they were treated as slaves in Egypt.
If we put the two lessons together, we have a perfect picture of the work of redemption in our own lives through Christ. God wants us to forget everything that pertains to sin before the blood of Jesus cleansed us, but He doesn't want us to forget the goodness and mercy that He so graciously lavished on us when we confessed our sin. Once repentance and confession have been made and forgiveness is given to a sinner, God only wants us to focus on His goodness and from where He has brought us, so that we won't get lifted up, and despise or reject others who might now be where we once were before we came to know Christ.
The Lord can turn mourning into joy and ashes into beauty when we learn how to remember from where God has brought us and how He wants us to forget how our sin made us feel before He forgave us. What great love the Father has given us through His Son, Jesus. Now we must go out and show that same kind of love and compassion toward others and lead them to Christ.
No Greater Love,
Pastor Asa Dockery
Pastor Asa Dockery