Question:

I am a baptized member of the church of Christ. I am in need of your advice. I am 25 years of age. I have been in a relationship for some months. Within a few months, we engaged in sinful physical activities (sex) afterward I felt bad. In each of the episode, I felt so ashamed to approach God. I fell into a bad state with my relationship with Christ. After repeated prayers for forgiveness, I felt that God has forgiven me, but there I go again and have sex once more. Actually, I was the instigator for these three occassions that I engaged in sex with this girl. I am finished. I felt so guilty. My major problem is that God has forgiven me several times and after the forgiveness I continued in my sin. I guess I panicked. I felt so ashamed and angry with myself for compromising to this rubbish. I am confused. I want to know if God can still accept and forgive me of all my sins again. From my heart I want to rededicate my life to God. I don't think that I have a second chance with God to forgive me of my sins since I am a baptized Christian. Brother, I really need collective and individual prayers of the saints for God's forgiveness. As a result of these sins, I have not partaken in the Lord's Supper for some Sundays. I deserved to die because I have crucified Christ for about five times now. I am finished. I don't know what to do. Please advise me.

Answer:

With God the question is never how often or how long you have committed sin. The question is have you truly repented of your sins? "Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon" (Isaiah 55:6-7). Notice there are two things which need to change: your behavior and your thinking.

Here is where your past problems probably lie. You regret what you've done, but you did not take steps to change how you behaved. The result is that you are now caught up in worldly sorrow. You've decided you are too sinful and stop trying to make any changes to improve. "For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. or 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 7:10-11).

What I suspect is that you know that fornication is wrong, but are doing nothing about the things that lead up to fornication. The result is that you get your sexual desire stirred up, instinct takes over, and you lose your self-control. So, let's go back to basics:

Fornication is a sin. "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). Fornication includes sexual intercourse, oral sex, anal sex, mutual masturbation, and any other sexual acts between two people who are not married to each other.

Since fornication is wrong, it is also wrong to stir up the desire for sex in another person through touching. The words for this are lewdness or sensuality. "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 13:13-14). This would mean no rubbing yourself up against a woman, stroking sexual areas of the body, passionate kisses, or anything else that inflames the desire for sex. Along with this, keep in mind Paul's warning: "Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman" (I Corinthians 7:1). By that he means sexual touching. You can't stir up the body's instinctive desire for sex and think you can resist.

Even thinking about doing things you should not do is a sin. I'm not talking about passing temptation, but the acceptance of doing something sinful if you got the chance. "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man" (Mark 7:21-23). Jesus' point is that sin begins in the mind and the place to first battle sin is there. You can't let yourself daydream of having sex or committing acts of lewdness. Since fornication is a sin, then so is thinking about committing fornication. "But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:28).

Logically, if you aren't supposed to do or dream about doing the things that lead up to fornication, then it is just as wrong to talk about sex. "But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them" (Ephesians 5:3-7). Personal phones and the ability to send private pictures has caused this to become a major stumbling block today. Because the other person is not present, we fool ourselves into thinking it is acceptable to discuss things we would never say or do in public. But the sin of uncleanness (dirty talk) is just as bad as any other sin. Perhaps people have gotten numb to it because uncleanness is present in our movies, songs, and books. We are so use to its presence that we become numb to the fact that it is wrong and a danger. As Christian it is unacceptable to talk about sexual feelings or talk about what sexual things you want to do to another person. It is wrong to send and receive sexual or sexually suggestive pictures.

And if this is understood to be wrong, then it is wrong to look at sexual or sexually suggestive images of women in general. It would be wrong to read about the sexual acts of other people. We call this pornography. "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). You cannot fill your mind with thoughts of committing sex outside of marriage in general and think you can resist the temptation to do it when a specific chance comes before you.

What I want you to see is that the reason you haven't been able to resist fornication is that you've allowed yourself to sin in many ways that lead to fornication as the next step in a progression of sins. The way to stop fornication is to not start the progression.

I'll pray for you brother, but I won't pray for you while you remain in your sins. Come out of all of them and then we can go before God together.

"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).

"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).

Thank you my brother for your candid advice. I am so happy. To be frank, I have made up my mind not to go back to it again. Please pray for me.

Good! And don't start again. "Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity" ( I Timothy 4:12).