Forgetting the Past

21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

26 If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. 27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
(James 1:21-27)

In my interaction with brothers in the Lord over the past few years I have heard them say things like “I don’t save emails.” Or “It’s not important to remember the past”. It’s usually said in times when the sin of this person or another is being or about to be discussed. Frankly, every time I hear this being said it bristles the Spirit in me. Why? Because it’s an excuse to not deal with the sin.

Folks, Jesus wants us to deal with our sin. Whether it be lying, abuse of others (verbal or physical) or anything else Scripture describes. Really we only have the 10 commandments to look at and then what the Lord gave the apostle Paul:

Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (Rom. 13:8-10)

And love is great if it is fulfilled not just by words, but by actions. This is how the verses from James ties in. For there are many of us who are hearers of the word of God. Millions of people sit in a pew every week and hear the word of God. Brothers and sisters sit together every day and talk about the word of God. And we are all quick to assent to the Truths that are given us in His Holy Book. But if we don’t start building our faith through action by what we know. How can we expect to be found a good and faithful servant? Yes we are saved by faith alone in Christ alone. But as brother James wrote and is memorialized for us all. Faith without works is dead.

Brethren, I appeal to you in Christ Jesus. If we don’t remember our history of sins that we repent of or don’t repent of before God and those we have hurt, then how will we learn and move forward in Christ?

21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. 23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
(Mat. 5:21-24)

Reconciliation is of the utmost importance. If we have done anything wrong against our brothers and sisters, then shouldn’t we start with a repentant heart? Yes it can be difficult for some to overcome their flesh. But isn’t that where we learn humility? Doesn’t Christ command this? For once we learn humility then we gain strength in Christ. Why? Because we are all going to spend eternity together. Don’t you think that even if Heaven is filled with so many of God’s children that it will be like the sands of the sea that we might bump into each other at least once or twice?

If you can, think of a person in your life who has hurt you in an extreme way. Then think about what it might be like if you found this person in Heaven. What would you do?

Me? I’d run straight to them and hug them with the biggest smile I have. Why? Because God has filled my heart with love. But He has also filled my heart with hatred towards sin just as He has. My first and greatest concern is that I have not wronged my Holy Father. My second is that I have not wronged my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Sadly, I also know that if a brother or sister won’t repent then I have to separate from them. Sometimes it could be years before that happens, if at all. Then, if you cross paths you can find out if they are still in the same place you left them or if they have grown in the Lord and have the same love that you do.

So what happens to those who forget?

22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.

As opposed to the next verse:

25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

And the exhortation:

26 If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. 27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

Brethren, if we came to Christ in the beginning with a repentant attitude. If we know that we are but filthy rags fit for burning. Why do we not continue in a repentant way? Are any of us greater than others? Greatfully no. For the Lord is not a respecter of persons. He put us all on the same playing field. The only differences is that some of us grasp the Truth better than others or haven’t learned it yet. But if we:

21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

Our reward will in Christ will be great.

Let us remember the exhortations to follow Christ and continue in repentance learning and applying the lessons He has given us.

Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

14 Do all things without complaining and disputing, 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.

17 Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18 For the same reason you also be glad and rejoice with me. (2Phil. 2:1-18)

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