Question:

I'm not sure how to fix what I've done - or if it is fixable at all. I gave my boyfriend a hand-job a few weeks ago, and I've felt guilty ever since then. I told him that I don't want to do it again because I realized that I had committed fornication, and he told me that he understands and supports me in wanting to do the righteous thing in the eyes of God. For this I am thankful.

But my real question, is how do I ask God for forgiveness? I have already prayed and told God that I have realized that I've overstepped a line that he has set for us, and that I am sorry for doing so and do not want to do so again. Is this enough to be forgiven? Or do I need to do more? I am truly sorry for what I have done and talked to my boyfriend about it - but I sincerely don't know if what I've already done is enough to be forgiven of my sin. Or if it can be forgiven at all, I haven't even been baptized yet!

Also, I have been wanting to call my spiritual group leader (I attend a youth group on Sunday nights) to tell her about what I've done and seek council. Is this a good idea?

The more specifics the better!

Thank you for your help and time.


Answer:

It might sound strange, but I'm glad you are feeling guilty -- not because you've been miserable for these last few weeks, but because it has finally sunk in that sin is real and that you have sinned. Without that understanding, no one changes. "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). Look at it this way, without the guilt (the sorrow), you would have continued to sin.

I don't teach denominational doctrines; I teach the Bible. I'll show you from the Bible what God wants you to do to be saved from your sins. It might not match up with what a denomination teaches, but that doesn't matter to me. Salvation comes from God, not a denomination. If you and I were sitting down at a table across from each other, I would be having you look up all sorts of verses in your Bible so that you can read for yourself what God wants you to do to be saved. But for right now, I'm going to give you some reading assignments. There are going to be verse references in the readings. I want you to look every one up and read it for yourself in your Bible. Feel free to read the verses around the reference as well to see that I'm not taking anything out of its context.

First, I want you to read "What Must I Do to be Saved?" which gets to the heart of your question. To understand all that is involved in salvation (because too many attempt to give simple answers and end up giving incomplete and inaccurate answers), I want you to read "What Saves a Person?" As you go through these, you ought to find yourself with a number of questions. Write them down and send them to me. The critical point at the moment is to understand what you need to do, then the doing won't be so difficult.

Can you be forgiven from your sins? Absolutely! ""But if a wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; because of the righteousness which he has done, he shall live."Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?" says the Lord GOD, "and not that he should turn from his ways and live?"" (Ezekiel 18:21-23). God wants you and everyone else saved from their sins, not condemned in their sins.

What about your boyfriend? Will he turn away from his sins as well?

Questions about the first article: In order to be saved, I have to live by the basic principles set forth by God, yes? But what if you make mistakes, like I have and will probably make again in the future? (Not the same sin, but various others, just like other people.)

I cannot think of any other questions; the basic idea is clear. Live by the basic commandments that God has given to us in order to receive salvation and be baptized.Is that correct?

Questions about the second article: Since I have yet to be baptized, am I unable to be forgiven and saved even if I live by God's principles?

I've learned a lot of this in youth group, so I have a good understanding of the meaning of Jesus's sacrifice for us. But some of His requirements for salvation remain a bit foggy; what qualifies as fornication? Is making out fornicating? And by making out, I just mean "repetitive kissing" without putting your hands where they're not supposed to go.

As for my boyfriend, what do I need to do to ask him to turn? I think he's doing well even without asking: he completely supports me in not continuing on the path we were on and admits that he felt bad about it afterward too. He actually came over today. He didn't put his hands where they're not supposed to go at all. We did kiss a lot of course, but everything was kept above the waist and my breasts were totally avoided. This is a good sign, no? But should I ask him specific questions? He's Christian, but his family doesn't practice much, which why I'm not sure how to approach it.

The reason I asked about your boyfriend is because if only one of you is committed to avoiding sin, you will find it hard to do if the other is pushing you toward sin. It has to be more than just words. It has to be a complete commitment.

The apostle John discussed what to do about sin after becoming a Christian: "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 1:8 - 2:1). Sin is not supposed to be a part of a Christian's life. We try to avoid it, but we realize that we make mistakes. When we do, we repent of our sins, go to the Father in prayer confessing we've sinned, and then continue on committed not to repeat those sins.

In your second question, you are basically asking if there might be multiple ways to be saved. Can a person be saved without fully obeying God? The simple answer is "no."

  • "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it" (Matthew 7:13-14).
  • "Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me"" (John 14:6).
  • "There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all" (Ephesians 4:4-6).

God did not lay out multiple ways to be saved. He defined what He expects of us, and the question is whether you, or anyone else, is willing submit to His will. Each thing that He asks of us has reason behind it: hearing God's word, believing, repentance, confession, baptism and a life of obedience. Leaving out any one means you haven't really committed your life to God. Following the Lord's command is not earning your salvation, it is conforming yourself to God's will.

As an example, there was a man named Cornelius in the Bible. He is described by God as being a good man; that is, he lived a life that followed God's teachings for the most part. "There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always" (Acts 10:1-2). But a man's goodness is not enough to save him. "But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away" (Isaiah 64:6). Cornelius was told to send for Peter to find out what he needed to do. "And he told us how he had seen an angel standing in his house, who said to him, 'Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon whose surname is Peter, who will tell you words by which you and all your household will be saved'" (Acts 11:13-14). Take note of that! Cornelius was a good man, a man whom God heard his prayers, yet he wasn't saved. Peter taught him about Jesus and what he needed to do. At the end we read, "And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord" (Acts 10:46). Cornelius could not be saved, no matter how good he lived, unless he conformed himself to God's will.

Fornication is any sexual act between two unmarried people that typically ends in orgasm. So intercourse, anal sex, oral sex, or hand-jobs would all be examples of fornication. But the problem you are overlooking is that fornication is not the only sin. Stirring up sexual passion such that a person is focused on wanting sex when it should not take place is also a sin. It is usually called lust, lewdness, or wantonness, depending on the translation. "For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God" (I Thessalonians 4:3-5). So the question isn't just whether you are actually doing fornication, but also whether you are stirring up sexual passions -- especially to the point of where you two aren't thinking.

That problem you two are running into. You have intentions, but those intentions fly out the window when you get yourself so passionate that you forget to behave yourselves. The answer is to not start down the path of sin and then you won't have to worry about arriving at a place you don't want to be.

Thank you for making it clear to me.

So, get baptized as soon as possible and try to live by God's word as best as possible, and ask for forgiveness to earn salvation? I just want to make sure I'm definitely getting it.

And you're saying I can no longer kiss my boyfriend? Even if it doesn't lead to anything at all?

Sorry for all the questions!

I'm sometimes amazed how people take matters to extremes and assume it is all or nothing. I said that inflaming sexual passion is bad when you two are not married and shouldn't follow through on those desires. It is quite possible to kiss your boyfriend, hold his hand, give him a hug, etc. without exciting him to the point that he wants to take off his clothes. I express it in terms of the guy since I've noticed that it is the guys who are more conscious of sexual passion than girls, even though both are feeling it equally.

"Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles -- when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries" (I Peter 4:1-3).

Salvation is never earned. There is absolutely nothing you, I, or anyone can do to make up for the damage our sins cause. Instead, salvation is a gift God gives. He offers it to people who are willing to turn from their sins and conform their lives to His teachings. Perhaps the article: How to Become a Christian will help.