As we head into a new year, we often reflect on accomplishments (or lack there of) of the past year. It is often easy to focus on all that was left undone or the regrets of unrighteous behavior or decisions. Many times we cannot face a new phase of life when we dwell on failures of the past.
Our enemy Satan delights when our failure to obey God keeps us from serving Him. You and I can all too easily wallow in the fact that we’ve failed God and then allow our emotions to keep us from going on and following after Him. Oh, we know we are forgiven. And we’ve stopped the behavior, acknowledged and confessed our sin, forsaken our thoughts or actions, and cleared up the situation (1 John 1:9). But we still say to ourselves, “I can’t believe I did that, said that, thought that, acted like that. How could I have done that? I’m unworthy. I am totally unfit to serve God.”
When that’s the case, we need to turn to another truth from God’s Word and let it lift us up, dust us off, refresh us, and set us back on His path. Speaking divine directions to us through His Spirit, God encourages us—those of us who have confessed our disobedience and been forgiven—to be “forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead… [and pressing] toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14). Once we’ve acknowledged and dealt with our failure to follow God wholeheartedly, once we’ve addressed our acts of disobedience, you and I are to forget those things from the past and go on. Oh, we are to remember the lessons learned, but we are also to train our hearts to obey by obeying this command from God to go on.
Whenever I am down about myself, discouraged by my faults, doubting my growth in Christ, depressed, defeated, or dismayed (someone once quipped that all these “D” words are from the Devil!), I stop and remind myself, “No matter what has happened, no matter what life looks like, no matter what you’re feeling, you are accepted in the Beloved—and nothing else matters!” Indeed, God has “made us accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6)!
When you and I come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, we are given a new beginning, a fresh start, forgiveness for the past, wisdom for handling life, and power for doing what’s right. The apostle Paul explains it like this: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Don’t continue to wallow in the drudge of failure at the side of the road where Satan wants you to get stuck. Claim the promise of Philippians 3:13-14 which compels us to reach forward in a continued walk in this newness.
Question: Do you sometimes think that God won’t answer your prayer because of past sinful behavior? Go to God now with your request viewing yourself as His beloved and forgiven child, to whom He wants to give good things.
For more encouragement to your faith read, A Woman After God’s Own Heart.