Question:

Hey there,

I'm a 21 year old male who was baptized about four years ago. I confess I have had premarital sex with a non-Christian woman for three years now, and I finally realize I need to repent and possibly end the relationship. I just have two major concerns.

  1. Do I have to get re-baptized? I read somewhere that sexual immorality nullifies your witness of Jesus? Wouldn't this mean I am no longer accepted as a child of God and need to be washed clean again in front of men? I also feel off on it considering it took me time to give up masturbation as well, all of which I still did after being baptized and becoming a Christian four years ago.
  2. Is it wrong of me to know that I can't continue living in sin and must leave her? Even though I gave my body to her expecting marriage, and technically I did marry her in the eyes of God (in the sense of combining our two bodies)? I just know this has to stop.

What should I do? I am so afraid I have to be re-baptized and or me confessing daily and begging on my knees for forgiveness isn't enough for all the sexual sins and wrongs I have done since being a Christian.

Please help me, thank you


Answer:

If we are going to clean up the problem of sin, we need to be blunt about what is going on. This is not to come down hard on you, but to make the situation clear so that the solution is also clear.

You did not marry the woman you have been having sex with. Marriage is made by covenant vows between a man and woman. "Yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant" (Malachi 2:14). Intercourse does not create a marriage. Think of it this way, if having sex with someone makes you married, then there could not be the sin of fornication (having sex before marriage). See:

You two have been committing fornication, not marriage. You even admit it when you called it "premarital sex." There are two possible solutions to your sin. Since sex is allowed in marriage (Hebrews 13:4), you can marry her as you claimed you were planning to do anyway. "But if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion" (I Corinthians 7:9). Such would not erase the fact that you sinned prior to your marriage, but it does stop future sin. If you do not want to marry or cannot get married immediately, then you need to stop the sex. If you are living together, you need to move out. You cannot repent of a sin that you are continuing to do. Repenting means changing your attitude about a sin -- accepting the fact that it is a sin -- and changing your behavior so you are no longer committing the sin.

Becoming a Christian does not make you immune to sin. "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (I John 1:8). I'm disappointed that it took three years before someone explained to you that unmarried sex is a sin. Like any other sin, claiming to be a Christian and living in a sin are not compatible. "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" (I Corinthians 6:9-10). For the last three years, though you were calling yourself a Christian, you weren't living like one, and you would not have made it to heaven in that state.

God's solution to when a Christian sins is for the Christian to admit that he was wrong. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:9). That is all it takes. "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 2:1). God also tells us that if you feel too unworthy to talk to God, or if you are concerned about overcoming sin, you can also enlist the aid of a faithful brother. "Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much" (James 5:16).

As if dealing with sin isn't hard enough, mankind has a bad habit of calling things sinful that God has not. "Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations -- "Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle," which all concern things which perish with the using -- according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh" (Colossians 2:20-23). While many people assume masturbation is a sin, you will not find a passage so stating. Pornography is a sin, lustful thoughts are sinful, but there is no passage saying that masturbation is a sin. See: Is masturbation sinful or not?

Thank you so much for the response. I have felt convicted now for a while. In fact just tonight I was ready to break up, but she told me she is willing to not have sex anymore. I have been praying for forgiveness for that and every past sin I can remember since being baptized.

To make it even more good news she told me she is willing to learn and understand Christianity because she doesn't want to lose me. I prayed with her (for the first time together) and I am already bringing more religion into the relationship. I tried to encourage her and informed her we can get through this because I am willing if she is and to try to help her understand faith.

I just want to make it clear though, do I have to be re-baptized and or re-confess my faith or something? Has it been void or nullified now because of my wrongdoings? Or is it as simple as just confessing and repenting from the life of sin, and building up Christ as the foundation in not just my life but this relationship?

Lastly you mentioned two solutions to the problem. With the first of getting married, you said, "This does not erase the fact you sinned prior to your marriage." But if I repent of this sin, and I beg for forgiveness, is it not washed away clean?

Thank you very much and I hope to get better understanding.

"In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead" (Colossians 2:11-12).

Paul said that baptism plays the same role in the New Testament that circumcision did in the Old Testament. Baptism washed away your past sins and entered you into the covenant with Christ. Your sins did not remove you from that covenant; your sins put you in jeopardy of receiving the punishment stated in Christ's covenant if you did not repent. However, you have turned away from your sins. All God asks of those who are in the covenant is to confess your faults and He will cleanse you from all unrighteousness. So by praying to God and admitting you sinned, you received forgiveness and are back in good graces with God. ... Yes, it really is that easy (I John 1:8-2:1). Just as a Jew did not have to be re-circumcised after sinning, a Christian does not need to be re-baptized after sinning.

If you had decided to get married, but never repented of your sins, the marriage would not have made your former sins of fornication go away. What takes care of your past sins is repenting and confessing your faults to God. Getting married will make sure you no longer continue to sin.

Thank you so much! I have been really worried about it as you can tell, haha.

I'm not sure if I asked this but I know the Bible mentions repenting of your sins and being baptized. I was wondering, if there was a sin I didn't fully realize the parameters of it actually being a sin, and, thus, didn't fully repent from it prior to baptism. Did this make my baptism not real? I got baptized because I believed in God and Jesus and his sacrifice and knew my faults and that I had to live a better life. I wanted to change and desired to do so upon baptism. I'm just not sure how long a period of time is for a change in stoping sin to actually be considered repentance? I hope it wasn't in vain. Maybe it's just now I feel so much more well versed in the knowledge of Christ than I was before when I was baptized.

What are your thoughts on this matter?

What you are going through is fairly common among new Christians. You lived a life where you did not think about sin, then you became aware of sin and your responsibility and made a change that resulted in your becoming a Christian. Now that you are aware of sin, you see just how far its roots took hold in your life and you wonder if you have done enough.

God said to repent and you did. You made a dramatic change in your attitude toward sin and your behavior. That you are a work in progress is true of every Christian, that is why Christians are to grow. "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen" (II Peter 3:18). It is when you stop making improvements in your life that should be looking for what has gone wrong.

When we realize we have sinned, God wants us to pray, admitting our sins. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:9). Notice that God will cleanse us from all unrighteousness. We confess what we know we done wrong, but God gives us something greater -- cleansing from all our sins, even the ones we didn't realize at the time. God is not saying a Christian is only forgiven if he manages to make a perfect accounting of everything he has done wrong.

As you grow in Christ, you are going to become aware of faults that you never thought of before. The answer is to acknowledge them, make correction and continue your journey.

Thank you so much for everything. I feel much better about this. I'm going to continue in Christ. Thank you again, Jeffrey!