Question:

Hi! I'm 14 years of age and my question is how do you get back to your old self when you have fled away fom God? How canyou make a new start? I have sinned a lot and repented an awful lot as well. But I'm sick of repenting for the same old mistakes. I'm sick of getting caught up in the moment. I don't know if it's because I'm human and weak to certain things, a part of life, or if it's atest. I'm tired of being depressed and crying all the time because of my issues. And you really can't turn to anyone withoutthemjudging you. Please help, I really need some advice.

Answer:

"Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter" (II Corinthians 7:9-11).

I hope you'll understand that the advice I offer must be general since I know so little about you or your problems. Still, I hope that some of this helps.

One mistake many people make in dealing with sins is to confuse sorrow with repentance. Being sorry that you sinned might spur you toward repentance, but it isn't the same thing. I don't know if you have the confusion or not, but bear with me a moment as I explain. Repentance is taking action to change the direction of your life. Paul taught the Gentiles "that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance" (Acts 26:20). Therefore, one reason people often repeat old sins is because they haven't really made any changes in their life. I was talking to one young man not long ago about this very thing. He messed up with his girlfriend sexually and one of the results was that their relationship decayed and they broke up. Though he was horrified at what happened and filled with tears, yet the next girl he became interested in was just like the previous girl. He had a hard time seeing that if he picked a girl to date solely based on sexual attraction, the very same thing -- or worse -- would result. If he wanted improvement, he had to change the way he picked girls to date.

A related problem is that some people approach the problem of sin solely as an effort to remove sin from their life. They don't realize they leave a hole in their life that is just waiting to be filled. For example, let's say a person decides that he wanted to improve himself so he is going to stop watching TV. If all he did was stop watching, soon he would be so bored that he will quickly go back to watching again. The same thing happens with sin. "When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, 'I will return to my house from which I came.' And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation" (Matthew 12:43-45). When you read through the New Testament, you don't find it saying just get rid of sin. It also tells you to replace it with something better. "The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts" (Romans 13:12-14). The idea is to get so involved in good things that there is no room or time for bad things anymore.

I don't know if you have fully given your life over to Christ or if you have just talked about it. But now would be a good time to make a complete change. Most of the denominations don't teach all the truth about entering into a covenant with Christ. But I would encourage you to learn the full truth. I would like you to take some time to read "Are We Killing the "Old Man?" and "How to Become a Christian."

There is one last point I would like to discuss with you before I let you go. It appears you have proper shame over your past sins, but you don't want anyone mentioning them. You put people in awkward positions when you do that. Let's say you had trouble with lying (I'm making something up for illustration), if I notice that you told me a lie and I said, "That's a lie. You should tell the truth." That is a judgment. I determined that one course of action was wrong and another was right. If I constantly catch you in lies, I might have to point out that your soul is in dangers because liars end up in hell (Revelation 21:8). That, too, is a judgment, but one that is based on facts. So if you are doing something wrong and someone points out that it is wrong, don't condemn the poor person who is trying to get you back on the right track.

What does happen is that some people won't let the past go. Even though you've changed, they refuse to see the change. That was a problem the Corinthians had with a man who had committed fornication. "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). The real problem is a lack of forgiveness when a person repents of their sins.

Forgiveness is yet another one of those ideas that people talk of doing all the time, yet rarely actually do it. I suspect that what you are running into are people who are unable to truly forgive when you turn from your sins.

Now that I've given you a few things to think about, I want you to know that you are welcome to write back at any time. I'm quite willing to help you work through issues and find a better direction in your life. I might come across harsh at times if I see you going the wrong way or trying to justify doing the wrong thing, but that is because I can't stand seeing someone throw away a perfectly good life for misery. I hope you'll take me up on the offer.