I was baptized as a baby in the church and have always been a Christian, but I have not been actively involved in fellowship as much as I'd like to be. My husband and I engaged in sexual acts (not intercourse) before marriage which I know are wrong. I have asked God for forgiveness and am trying to further my relationship with him, but I don't feel I deserve to be cleansed.

Some denominations teach that being baptized as a child make a person a Christian, but this doesn't match what the Bible teaches. Becoming a Christian is an individual choice that is followed by individual action. Other people can make you be a Christian, you have to choose to be one. Take some time to read the passages listed in the table "Things that Accompany Salvation." Understand that salvation is made up of all of those things and not just some.

I believe that the reason for you feelings of undeservedness stems from the fact that you never really committed yourself to God. Oh, you want the benefits that come from being a Christian, but you are reluctant to put the required effort into it. You see this because you know you are not actively involved. "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God" (Romans 12:1-2). Deep down, you probably realize that your requests for forgiveness are hypocritical. You are double-minded about your religion. "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up" (James 4:8-10).

If you want to be a child of God, you have to give yourself over to him. You can't live a life with one foot in the world and expect to get your other foot into heaven. The distance is too great. It just doesn't work. "Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him" (I John 2:3-5).

Thank you for your response. I am working hard to restore my faith through praying to God and accept that Jesus died for my sins and live a truly Christian life. What I'm having trouble with is that my husband and I were sinning prior to marriage through "hand jobs." However, I did not think about the fact I was sinning until after the marriage, so I feel I wasn't able to stop doing those things - repent and stop doing them.

I am reading Scripture daily, trying to find out where God wants me to be.

I thank you for your time.

The past cannot be undone. If you are a child of God, you can approach the Father and ask forgiveness of your past sins (I John 1:8-10). You have stopped your sin because you got married. The fact that you didn't knowingly stop the sin doesn't matter. What you can do is teach younger women why it is a sin. "The older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things-- that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed" (Titus 2:3-5). You can't roll back the clock, but you can stop the spread of sin through ignorance.

See also:

Questions and Answers regarding Forgiveness
Questions and Answers regarding Salvation
Questions and Answers regarding Sexual Relations