STARTING OVER: SPIRITUAL AMNESIA
January 2, 2022
New Year’s Sermon
STARTING OVER: SPIRITUAL AMNESIA
Introduction: In the atmosphere of these days, there are several indications of starting over, such as the beginning of a new year or a move to a new location. These are indeed days flowing with an attitude of starting over. There is holy amnesia, a spiritual forgetfulness in order to start once again.
Amnesia is a strange condition that involves a partial or total loss of memory. It may occur as the result of one of the following:
(A blow to the head)
(Too much alcohol or narcotic use)
Sometimes it is temporary, and the memory slowly returns. Almost all of us have experienced it to some degree, especially when it is convenient. For example:
We forget to pay that debt
We forget to keep that appointment
We forget about that commitment
We forget to pick up after ourselves
We forget to take out the garbage
But seriously, there are cases on record in which the victim forgot his own name, address, and family. The victim could not recall any significant event that occurred before the affliction appeared.
There was a young husband who forgot that he was married. According to a newspaper account, his bride became very upset and burned their dinner the night after their honeymoon. Her first flop was understandable, because her mate was three hours late getting home from the office. He had absent-mindedly failed to recall that he was married and had gone to his mother’s home instead.
There are two types of amnesia, they tell us. Retrograde amnesia occurs when you forget everything or some things that happen to you before an accident or illness. There is anterograde amnesia, in which you forget everything after an accident or illness.
But in our text, the apostle Paul speaks of another kind of amnesia----spiritual, or holy amnesia. This amnesia is a forgetting of those things which are behind in order that we might press toward a mark, a prize, an upward call of God. In order to start over in 2022 with spiritual or holy amnesia, some conditions have to be met.
SPIRITUAL AMNESIAC LIVE WITH A GROWING SENSE OF DISCONTENT (v. 12&13)
The work of Christ Jesus for you on the cross is a perfect work, but the work of the Lord Jesus in you is not a complete work---not because of Him, but because of you. The apostle Paul stresses that those who live in light of that holy amnesia are to be a people who are discontented, dissatisfied, and disappointed at the stage of their own spiritual maturity, growth, commitment, and achievement.
You see his words in the twelfth verse: “Not as though I had already attained….” He’s not saying that he’s perfect. He doesn’t stand above us as some giant looking down on us and saying, “Why don’t you come on up where I am?” Here, Paul is saying, “No, I….” using himself as the example, not John Mark or Silas or Timothy. He says, “I have not attained” and “I am not made perfect.”
Here, Apostle Paul has been beaten and shipwrecked many times, in his imprisonment, says, “I have not apprehended, I have not grasp it, I have not mastered it.” It was a sense of holy discontent. Don’t you feel like you haven’t grasp it all yet? Don’t you feel discontent because there is more work to do? The apostle Paul says those who suffer from spiritual amnesia are those who live with an inward sense of discontent and disappointment with spiritual growth. I want to appeal to you to be content in Christ and know the peace that passes all understanding.
SPIRITUAL AMNESIAC ACHIEVE A SINGLE COMMITMENT
In this grand text, there is a word of priority that rings out: “Brethren, I count myself as not apprehended but this one thing I do.” The word one stands out. It’s a call. It’s a cry. It’s a summons. It’s as if Paul stood up and said, One! One! One! If I’m writing a letter, I’m doing one thing. If I’m walking down the road with Timothy, I’m doing one thing. If I’m shipwrecked, I’m doing one thing. If I’m in prison, I’m doing one thing, If I’m preaching, I’m doing one thing. If I’m praying, I’m doing one thing. Paul was a person mastered by one thing.
His one thing was a priority---a process of forgetting and straining. The priority---one thing; the forgetfulness----forgetting those things which are behind. What is that you forget, Paul? What is amnesia? Those things behind.
He was forgetting past guilt. He was forgetting past achievements. Paul could have bragging rights with the best of individual. He has a resume and credentials.
He had plenty of achievements before he ever became a believer. After he became a believer, look at what he could have claimed---founded churches. But he says, “I am forgetting all of that. For every success God gives me, I run past it, and it disappears into oblivion. I’m not going to be distracted or stalled even by my successes. I’m pressing forward toward the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
There is a priority---one thing. There is a process----forgetting guilt, yes and there’s forgetting past achievement, forgetting as I run and pressing toward the mark.
SPIRITUAL AMNESIAC HAS AN UPWARD CALL
Paul said, “I’m pressing toward the mark.” It was a marker at the end of a racecourse. We would call it the tape. It’s the prize. It’s an upward calling of God in Christ Jesus. We as Christians need to have a forward focus, to press on. Look to the future, not the past.
We press toward the prize. Paul was determined to hold back nothing from the Lord. He was a fully surrendered man. He was consistent in his Christian walk.
Starting Over: Spiritual Amnesia
Responsive Reading: Philippians 3:7-14