intentional forgetfulness

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith – that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:7-14

I’ve been meditating on these verses over the last week and I have a question.

Can someone tell me what “forgetting what lies behind” means?

I have yet to look at the Greek to examine the words more carefully. I will do so soon, but if anyone else has already turned the pages on this one, please share in the comments section below. I’m grateful for any insight.

Does “forgetting what lies behind” mean to forget a “dark past” or a wicked life drenched with patterns of sin prior to salvation? Or does it mean, pointing back to Paul’s comments at the beginning of the chapter, forgetting everything one used to cling to for eternal hope and satisfaction?

May God bless all of His children as we pursue and run hard after the goal.

4 thoughts on “intentional forgetfulness

  1. when you run a 5k…what does it mean to for you to run, straining for the goal? Somethings you learned in the past you can’t afford to forget (your training, your plan, the purpose of the race, the obstacles people have warned you about, etc). But in this case, as I understand it (and I too have not deeply studied the greek), the forgetting of what’s behind (our past sin, self-righteousness, things we vainly hoped in, etc) happens as we strain for the prize for which we are called heavenward in Christ. They seem to be two actions running, not parallel but concurrent. One forgets what is behind as one strains for the prize, and one strains for the prize by forgetting what’s behind. We don’t get so lost in sinful guilt (Rom 8:1) or focused on our past failures (remember, Christ is working in us to will and do His pleasure (Phil 2) that we stop running. Basically…you can’t look backwards and forwards at the same time. And by look I mean lock your focus onto…its that whole you’re either going forward or going backward…no sitting still allowed. May we with Paul by Christ alone press on…”looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb 12:2)

    Just some thoughts (by no means exhaustive or even comprehensive) but wanted to jot down some ideas. Thanks for posting. It’s a good question.
    Blessings, bro.

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  2. I’m no authority, for sure, but I couldn’t find anything to indicate that Paul is limiting the scope of his intentional forgetfulness. Best I could find, the literal sense is, “One thing: Lies behind–forgetting; lies ahead–straining forward…” I agree with Jonathan that the main emphasis is with the direction of his gaze and the object of his focus, and I completely agree with the Heb 12 parallel.

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  3. MacArthur says…”A runner who looks back risks being passed. Nor does a runner’s performance in past races guarantee success or failure in present or future races. The past is nor relevant; what matters is making the maximum effort in the present so as to sustain momentum in the future….Believers cannot live on past victories, nor should they be debilitated by the guilt of past sins.”~~~”No one,” declares Jesus, “after putting his hand to the pow and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62).
    “Reaching forward to what lies ahead” translates… “to stretch”… Describes stretching every muscle to its limit to reach the finish line.”
    The goal on which believers must focus is being like Jesus Christ.”

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  4. Twentyone years ago, I surrendered as a Bond Slave to my Abba Father and His Son, Messiah Yeshua. That means I no longer have any “rights” to myself or my life. He owns me, Spirit, Soul, and Body, and Everything that He has given me stewardship. Gal 2:20 says I have been crucified with Messiah. This answers for me, your question.I now live a NEW Life with no past or remembrances of anything that could come close to equaling my being IN Messiah Yeshua and He in Me.

    I had my 80th birthday on Shavuot (Pentecost). I am ALL His. HALLALEYAH ! Merle Fraser

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