I have just recently joined the church and am going to be baptized soon. I have been worried lately because I have had premarital sex (and I am not married now), and I want very desperately to find a way to cleanse myself. I feel very guilty about what I did, and I pray for forgiveness for it constantly, but I do not feel that it is enough. Will baptism cleanse me?
Actually, you cannot join the church until you are baptized. "So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. ... praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved" (Acts 2:41, 47). That is why Jesus said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (John 3:5). Being born of water is just another way of saying "been baptized," and the kingdom is another name for the church. Paul too points out that the entrance is through baptism: "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit" (I Corinthians 12:13).
The purpose of baptism is to enter a covenant with the Lord, starting out new, fresh, and sinless.
- "Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin" (Romans 6:3-7).
- Those in the church have been cleansed. "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless" (Ephesians 5:25-27).
- "Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name" (Acts 22:16).
- It doesn't matter what sins you committed before. Even fornication is removed. "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).
Now, being freed from sin doesn't make you immune to sin. "If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous 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, I am writing these things 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). What does happen is that you start with a clean slate and a determination to avoid sin as best that you can. When you do slip, you get yourself back up, tell God you're sorry, and continue doing what is right.
Thank you very much for your reply. I am hoping to have my baptism very soon and will avoid that sin at all costs. Thanks again. This meant very much to me.