Question:

I am 22 years old and have been raised in the church. I have been struggling with forgiving myself. I have committed fornication. I've repented but I just cannot seem to forgive myself. I knew that I was disobeying God and I knew that my body was a temple and still I fell into the trap. I keep asking myself, "how could I have done this? How could I have pushed my conscience out of my head and gone along with such a great sin." I can't find in the New Testament where a Christian fornicated and was forgiven. I try and believe there is hope for me, but I can't find it in the Bible. I hope I am simply missing something. I cannot begin to describe the depths of pain, fear, depression and regret I feel. AllI wantis to find my way back to truly serving and pleasing God.Please help.

Answer:

One of the reasons I spend a lot of time discussing sexual issues with young people is the very fact that you discovered. When people get sexually aroused, the parts of their mind which governs judgment and rational thinking is dampened. When you add to that the fact that the young adult's brain is still developing and one of the last parts to finish is the section devoted to judging the safety of certain actions, plus the fact that young adults have very little experience handling their sexual impulses because they are relatively new, well, let's just say it is ripe pickings for Satan.

Yes, you sinned. I can just about guarantee that you've sinned in other ways as well, but you aren't beating yourself up for them. You are just focusing on this one sin even though God said, "But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death" (Revelation 21:8). I've noticed over the years that certain sins really get people upset. But how many people go into depression and cry their eyes out over being cowardly or telling a lie? Yet, these sins are listed as just as bad as murdering or committing fornication. Therefore, I want you to get control of your emotions and start seeing this in a more balanced way.

You've hit the nail on the head when you started out admitting that you can't forgive yourself. In a round about way, that is pride talking. You thought you were resistant to this type of sin and now you've learned why Paul warned, "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall" (I Corinthians 10:12). Still, it hurts to realize that you aren't as strong or as good as you had imagined. You've been forced to face the fact that you sin. "For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith" (Romans 12:3). Where you have built up layers of defenses and excuses for your other sins, with this particular one you have finally come to the realization that there wasn't any excuse. Actually, that has always been true for all the other sins that you've committed, but this one proved the point in such a way that you can't avoid it.

Now is the time to strengthen your faith in God. Now is the time to really appreciate Christ's sacrifice as you had not truly done in the past. God doesn't want to send you or anyone else to hell. "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance" (II Peter 3:9). He will when people are too stubborn to leave their sins. But His goal is rescue people from their sins. "But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" (I John 1:7-2:1). That is how Paul found his way. "And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen" (I Timothy 1:12-17). If a murderer could obtain mercy from God, cannot a fornicator?

"Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God" (I Corinthians 6:9-11). Notice that important phrase: "such were some of you." Yes, God can forgive fornication. In that very church was a man who was sleeping with his father's wife! (I Corinthians 5:1). Paul ordered the church to withdraw from him while he remained in his sins. "In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus" (I Corinthians 5:4-5). Yet, that wasn't the end. He wasn't without hope. You have to read the second letter to Corinth to realize that the man changed. "This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man, so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow. Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him" (II Corinthians 2:6-8). Yes, even sexual sins can be forgiven.

You've realized the error of your way. You're not making any silly excuses over it. You see yourself more clearly than you have ever done so in your life. So, go to God in prayer and admit your faults and thank Him from the very depths of your heart for rescuing you from this trap. Then get up and make changes in your life. I don't know if you are still seeing the person or not, but you need to look long and hard at this relationship. If you would like to discuss the matter in more detail, you are welcome to contact me.

Thank you so much. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. You have brought new perspective to my situation. I had read about the guy who was having relations with his mother-in-law and that's what had me so scared. I thought that they kicked him out and he was never allowed back! That's why I was horrified.

Thank you, also, for explaining that my judgment was not as clear. Not that it is an excuse, because I don't see it as that, but it does help me understand why I could have been so careless. I am no longer with a boyfriend and have repented of all sexual sins.

You are also correct though that I was also blind to other sins I was guilty of because I was focusing on the fornication thing so much. Once again, thank you.

Please keep me in prayer that I can stay on the path of Christ. One thing I know, it will not be easy for me to be pulled into Satan's trap of fornication again. I know how bad it hurts.