We’re commanded in Hebrews 12:1 to “lay aside every weight” so we can “run with patience the race that is set before us.” Consider that first command: lay aside every weight, every burden that slows us down in our race forward. If we’re dwelling on the past, that means we’ve stopped running, picked up some weights we were commanded to drop, and are giving them (not God or His commandments and His service) all our attention. No wonder we stop running and even start walking backward. For good reason do race horses wear blinders that force them to look forward, blocking out distractions so they can focus on the race.
Even worse, Hebrews 12:1 continues on into the second verse, explaining what we should be looking at when we run the race “set before us” (set in front of us): “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher ofour faith.” If we’re looking at the past, we’re violating this second command of God’s: we’re not only picking up weights and burdens we were told to lay aside, to drop to the ground and regard as worthless impediments, but we’re not looking at Jesus but rather at those forbidden weights instead. We should be rejoicing that Christ tells us to drop all these weights. Satan’s worst enemy is a Christian focused on the future and running his race well.
Much of the world (perhaps including your friends and family) is busy carrying these worthless weights and glorying in them, but this is no reason to follow them into their folly, because “God taketh the wise in their own craftiness.” As Deuteronomy 32:35 says, “their foot shall slip in due season.” You want to stand on solid rock, not on humanistic sand.
You must use the right yardstick to evaluate things, and humanistic yardsticks are uniformly condemned by God. A humanistic yardstick is, itself, a “weight to be laid aside” because it sends us down the wrong racetrack, chasing honors that God has foeordained will evaporate completely. Rejoice that God has redeemed you from a past that is hopeless and worthless, has provided atonement for sins so that those can, like all other weights, be laid aside.
Dwelling on past sins may be a sign that you’re leaning back toward autosoterism (self-salvation through your own efforts). There are only three religions in the world: autosoterism, sacerdotalism, and evangelicalism. In autosoterism, the agent ofsalvation is yourself. In sacerdotalism, the agent ofsalvation is the priest or the church doling salvation out to you. (Note that in these first two, salvation comes through people.) But in evangelicalism, we are saved by the direct action of God upon us, without human intermediaries (whether ourselves or priests or churches). All humanism is autosoteristic, and any hints of autosoterism in our hearts must be expunged: it’s a death trap to avoid. There ARE no bootstraps you can pull on to save yourself: you must throw yourself on the mercy of Christ, Who will save to the uttermost.
If things in your past satisfy the sniff test of Philippians 4:8 (and therefore aren’t weights to be laid aside), you’re free to dwell on them (so long as you’re still running your race and moving forward). If they don’t, you must treat them no differently than the sirens singing to Odysseus and his crew, trying to get their ship to crash into the rocks and sink. This is precisely the purpose of all such siren songs: to derail you and get you to stop running forward.
“Conquering Your Own Past” published in the Chalcedon Report, February 2013