Forgetting the Past

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God bless you! We greet you again with the old-time greeting: The Lord bless you and make you a blessing and use you in His service. We want to say from all of us in the studio that we do wish you a wonderful New Year and that you will have a sweet, fresh revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ to your soul, and that God’s blessings shall attend you every step of the way! You surely have our prayers.

As we stand before the portals of the New Year, we don’t know what’s in store in 1966, what it’s going to bring. And I’m glad of that, aren’t you? Glad we can’t pull aside the curtains of the future and see what is in store! But there’s one thing we do know, and this is that we can leave behind the past with all of its cares and frets and its pains and heartaches and mistakes and blunders. Isn’t it wonderful? Forever in the past, beyond our recall. We can’t undo one single act and we can’t unsay a word that we have said.

All that the past year holds of wrong or right in 1965, this regret or sorrow, that’s in the hand of God’s almighty love! But thank God, if we truly trust the Lord Jesus Christ, if we have completely yielded all into His hands, He can bring honey out of the rock and sweet waters out of the bitter desert of the past, no matter what it was. He can give you in this New Year beauty for ashes and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, joy of the morning for the woe of the night! All of this is promised in His Word, and how we delight to know that He’ll do this. (Isaiah 61:3)—That we are His, and trusting Him.

He says that “All things work together for good to them that love the Lord, to them that are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) So all of this in the past—if you’re truly yielded, if you’re utterly surrendered, if you’re truly His child—all this to “them that love the Lord, who are called according to his purpose,” He can make it all work out for good.

All the rest of that is in the past, save for the beautiful memories that will linger sweet and tender. There are some wonderful memories of 1965. But the principal thought we want to bring to your heart is that this past is gone now! I have nothing at all to do with it! It was mine, but now it is God’s, because we commit it into His hands. They’re past, every day of the last year is past beyond our reach and we should leave it there! God has them, as I say, in His keeping, and we should not go back and be tormented with regrets or let the Devil put any condemnation upon us about anything in the past.

Susan Coolidge wrote these words. She said:

The past is now a part of forever,
Bound up in a sheath which God holds tight.
With glad days and sad days
And bad days which never
Shall visit us more
With their bloom or their blight,
Their fullness of sunshine
Or sorrowful night.

Yet how many people claim they’re trusting God, and they worry about the past, the blots and stains on the pages of the past! They never rejoice in the fullness of God, and that He has said that He has “blotted them out”. (Isaiah 43:25)

If you’re a child of God and came to Him repentant and confessing about any of those mistakes that you made this last year, and you ask forgiveness, then you certainly mustn’t go picking around in the past and bringing out again things that the Lord has covered with His precious blood, covered with the sacrifice of Calvary!

Because He says of your past sin, “I will remember them against you no more!” (Hebrews 8:12) God doesn’t even remember them; why should you? Much less worry about them! But oh, how the Devil loves to accuse the saints of God about their past, because he wants to keep them under condemnation!

Now you don’t want him to have victory in this matter, do you? You don’t want to yield to the Devil in this thing, that he can have you continually under condemnation when God says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1) When you keep going back and picking out in the past and regretting this and that and weeping over things that you can’t help, just remember that verse, “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow, and though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18).

Aren’t there wonderful promises along that line? They [our sins] were all washed away “down at the cross where the Savior died.” That, to me, is one of the most wonderful old songs, “Down at the Cross where the Savior Died,” and I know it brings back memories to you.

Someone has written it this way, and I can’t say that I agree with them:

If I could only find
The road to yesterday
I’d ease my heart of many a load
That burdens me today.
Recall the words so harsh, unkind,
Kiss clean the stabs I made when so blind,
Plant love for hate—
If I could find the road to yesterday.
I’d write the page with cleaner pen
And wipe out yesterdays,
Repent and turn and walk again
The road to yesterday.
With wiser heart I would retrace
The stains of sin, and wrong efface.
My tortured soul seeks means of grace
To relive yesterday.

Author unknown

Now that’s beautiful poetry; there’s fine rhythm there and beautiful phraseology. But I couldn’t agree with that, because I don’t want to find the path to yesterday.—And surely you don’t.

It says, “I’d write the page with cleaner pen and wipe out yesterdays.” You can’t wipe out anything! Only God can cover, and when He sees you through the blood of Calvary, that is what makes a difference. It isn’t God’s way to go back and retrace the past: You can’t relive that past, and who wants to return to the past when the future is so bright with wonderful promises?

When I think about next year, about this year now, I think about all the promises of God that we can lay hold of, and how bright the picture can be! What wonderful things can happen, even miracles because this Word is unchanging. God’s Word is still there for us to grasp, those promises. And with all of those promises there, how can we want to go back into the past, retrace the past, and “walk again the road to yesterday” as the well-versed poem said?

The cross of Christ with outstretched arms stands blocking the way to the past. Because of the penalty paid for your sins, the Bible says, “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.” That’s Philippians 3:13 and 14.

Forget those things which are behind. Forget them! Press on toward the mark for the prize. You can’t make the sands in the hourglass run backwards, and if you have the wealth of the whole world you can’t retrace the path to the yesterdays, as the poem said; you can’t go back.

There is no redemptive price for that past, but there is redemption for you. He’s redeemed you and you’re clean from all the past. Oh, what a pity if we carry the burden of the past when the Lord paid such a price to lift that burden and set us free. What is that price? “He paid it all, all to Him we owe.” (“Jesus Paid It All,” by Elvina M. Hall, 1865)

I think there are no more beautiful words than the words of the little song, “For All My Sin.” If you’re truly repentant, surely this poem or the words of this song will touch your heart, confessing your sins to Him and yielding your life fully in His hands.

With one stroke of His nail-pierced hands, He wipes out all that awful guilt by the cross of Calvary:

It was His love for me
That nailed Him to the tree
To die in agony for all my sin.
For my own guilt and blame
The Great Redeemer came,
Willing to bear my shame
Of all my sin.

Oh, what a Savior is mine
In Him God’s mercies combine
His love can never decline
And He loves me.

To Calvary’s hill one day
The Lord was led away
None else the price could pay
For all my sin.
He on the cross was slain,
Yielding His life in pain
And He felt the bitter stain
Of all my sin.

Was ever love so strong?
Was ever crime so wrong
When Jesus suffered long
For all my sin?
He saw my greatest need,
Became my Friend indeed,
Through Him I have been freed
Of all my sin.

“It Was His Love for Me,” by Norman J. Clayton

Wonderful, wonderful! I’ve seen folks that just came to that very cross of Calvary and left their sins there. Just one little drop of that blood can cleanse the blackest past.

I remember some time ago when we were holding a meeting in Roseville, in California, a young man came into the service. The hall was on the main street in Roseville, and he was just out of Folsom Penitentiary. He just couldn’t believe it was as easy as that, that God would just on his confession of sin and his asking the Lord to come in his heart and him taking Jesus as Savior. It was so hard for him to believe that his past would be cleansed.

He kept talking about all his sin, all his sinning! He couldn’t! It was just too great a thing to believe that God could cleanse that awful past. That night he wept openly when he gave his heart to God and confessed that Jesus Christ is his Savior. Christ lifted that load and forgave that man who had been a criminal: cleansed his heart and gave him a freedom he’d never known. I saw him often after that when he came to visit.

He could never get through talking about the mercy of God and how God had rid him of the torment of the past, and he would repeat some of the words [of the hymn]: “My yesterdays so filled with guilt and shame, my yesterdays are gone, oh praise His name!”

I wonder if there is anything more wonderful than the miracle of forgiveness. Is there? Is there anything more glorious than that?—The assurance of having your sins forgiven, that you’re clean? It’s for all of us. He died for all of us. All you have to do is just take it, just receive Him as your Savior, accept His forgiveness; come confessing your sin.

“He is faithful and just to forgive you your sin and cleanse you from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) All unrighteousness! He cannot fail His Word, and He has promised this. He’s promised it. “Hath he not said it and will he not also do it?” (Numbers 23:19) God bless you.