You Can’t Go Back – Part 1

(John 21:1-14)

This will be a two part post to cover this message. It is a lesson I have learned again just recently and it is one that many Christians are unaware of how serious a matter it is. You can't go back when you come to The Lord. You must continue to push forward.

You can't go back
You can't go back

And yet in these scriptures we see that even Jesus' disciples made this mistake mere days after He had died and was resurrected. And Jesus came to them, specifically to Peter for he was the one who made the error, and in no uncertain terms turned them around to move forward.

So today we will look at why you can't look or go back, and tomorrow we will look at what Jesus did with Peter when he looked back.

Looking Back

In Luke 9:62 we see this verse.

“Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

I have already made the point that we must move forward. If we consider a farmer ploughing the ground to prepare it to sow grain, how straight would the furrows be if he were looking backwards where he had been rather than forwards to where he is going? As you can imagine they would not be straight at all but would run all over the place. To take a modern example, if you were to drive a car, how far would you get before having an accident if you only looked in the rear vision mirror? You wouldn't see obstacles, corners, people crossing the road, cliffs, bridges and so on and would be in deep, deep trouble in minutes if not seconds.

Well it is the same for a Christian who looks back. In the verse described above Jesus makes the point that one who looks back when they should be looking forward is, “…unfit for the kingdom of God.” When a person looks back they make themselves unfit for God's kingdom. Let us now try to understand why.

What Lies Behind

When a person becomes a Christian they repent and turn away from the things of this world and the things of their old life. The things of this world and this life do not add value to a person and they are destructive to a Christian. This world is full of evil and when we come to Christ we are turning away from the evil of the world to be able to look forward to the righteousness and the life offered by God through Jesus Christ.

However, when a Christian looks back, they are not looking to Jesus, they are not looking towards the light and they are not walking with Christ. When they look back they are looking back into the things of this world and to their past lives. They are looking back to what is evil and the things they turned away from for the sake of coming to The Lord.

The apostle Peter went through this very process for he looked back and he learned a valuable lesson as to how damaging and dangerous it is to do so. His description of what looking back is like for a Christian is one of the most graphic and disgusting pieces of scripture in the bible, but it is also accurate for Peter learned it by hard and bitter experience, as I did too in a different way.

Peter Looks Back

Peter and a number of the other disciples were gathered together after The Lord had risen. Peter said to them, “I am going fishing,” and the others said they would go along with him too.

Peter was a fisherman prior to The Lord calling him to become a “fisher of men.” In the three and a bit years that Peter followed Jesus he learned the secrets and the ways of the kingdom of God. But after Jesus had been killed and arisen, Peter failed to recognise that he still had a work to do, as did the other disciples. Instead, Peter turned back to his past and his former life before Christ to become a fisherman once more.

That was a serious mistake. He turned back from the way that was set before him to return to working in his own strength and his own power. He stood to lose all that The Lord had given him including the work that needed to be done for the sake of the kingdom of God and for our sake. Peter did not understand how much was at stake by turning away from God to go back in to the world.

He probably did not even realise that he was turning away, as too anyone else, myself included, may not see the matter for what it is. We all may think that we will be OK and we can do both things that we looked back into while still being a Christian. That is arrogance and no arrogant person will enter the kingdom of God. Thus, those who do turn back, and especially those who are arrogant, make themselves unfit for the kingdom of God because they turned away from The Lord.

Recall the Israelites who left Egypt and the miracles that were performed for them in the wilderness, the pillar of fire and smoke that led them forward, the parting of the Red Sea to allow them safe passage, the giving of manna from heaven to eat and much more. Did they glorify God for all of these things? No! They looked back to Egypt at the food they had there and forgot the slavery they were under. They rejected God and made a golden calf to worship as an idol, and made themselves unfit for the kingdom of God, and in their case, entry into the land of Canaan as promised to Abraham many years earlier. And all but a couple did not enter but died in the wilderness.

It is a very serious thing to turn back to your past as we see in these examples. I mentioned Peter described how bad this was, which he learned by experience, and his description below is quite graphic. He said in 2 Peter 2:20-22 the following words.

20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.
21 For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them.
22 What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”

As I mentioned previously, you cannot look back. It will destroy you. The only thing for a Christian back in their former life is death. As Peter says above, it is filth and it is vomit and who wants to go back to such disgusting things as those? You left that life and it needs to stay where it is, in the past. To look back into it is to turn away from Christ and turn to the world, and that is not the kingdom of God but is the kingdom of the devil.

I will finish off this subject in my next post when we look at how Jesus intervened to set Peter back on track.

You might also like:

You Cant Go Back Part 2
The Great Commission Part 1
The Great Commission Part 2
The Great Commission
The Risen Christ Appears To The Disciples
The Ascension Of Jesus
Jesus Appears To The Disciples
Baptising The Ethiopian
Seek To Enter By The Narrow Door
Sons Of Light Sons Of Darkness
Walk In The Light
Jesus Is The Light
I Am The True Vine
Abide In Me


If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

Leave a Reply