Question:

Hello,

I’ve been a Christian for about twenty years now and am a member of the church of Christ. I would appreciate if you could answer some questions and help me with some issues I am having. I’ve been examining myself lately, and I realize that I am a lukewarm Christian, at best. A very poor example of a Christian in my opinion. My Christian life started out good for the first few years, but since then, it’s been up and down like a yo-yo and mostly down the last several years. This is hard for me to say, but here are my issues.

  • I’ve struggled with the same sins constantly from the beginning: anger, lust, and pornography. I feel like I’ve not gotten any better in stopping these things. I give in to temptation most of the time.
  • I haven’t grown as I should over the years because I constantly procrastinate, and I put in very little effort to study besides when I’m at church. Hebrews 5:12 describes me perfectly. My Bible knowledge is pretty weak. I feel like a beginner when I should be mature.
  • I’ve been studying about repentance and what it means to truly repent. I’m worried that I’ve been doing this wrong all along, and that I have never truly repented. Basically, I pray for forgiveness of my sins, and I try to stop doing them; instead of realizing that I must have true sorrow in my heart for hurting God and violating His will. If I was truly sorrowful, then I would have stopped these sins long ago. I am ashamed to say, not only do I still do these sins but a lot of times I do them willfully, fully understanding that I am sinning against God but choosing my own selfish desires over His will. This is how far I have fallen.

I know the steps to be saved: Hear, Believe, Repent, Confess, Baptize, and Remain Faithful until death. Because of my incorrect view of repentance and constant, willful sinning, I am questioning my salvation. I know I must quit doing these things and change. I fear I didn’t truly repent before I was baptized because I still struggle with the same sins as I did before. I usually give in to temptation and willfully look at porn or act in ways that a Christian should not. I always feel ashamed and guilty afterward, and I tell myself that’s the last time, but the cycle continues. True repentance is a change of heart. How could I have repented if I still do the same sins as before? Does this mean I’m not really saved? Do I need to be baptized again? What is the next step for me? I’m really not sure. I need some reassurance.

I know that only God can forgive sin but according to James 5:16, we should confess our sins and pray for one another. Please pray for me, brother. I know I am responsible for all my bad decisions, and I am very worried about these things. I need your guidance and help on these issues I have talked about, and what I should do to get right with God and start living as a true Christian should. 

Thanks for your time.

Answer:

I suspect that the anger you are dealing with is in part generated from being angry with yourself for giving into lust. The fact that you are struggling with sin doesn't mean you were never converted. As you mentioned, you did start off well for a while. In a sense, you are like the rocky soil. "The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away" (Matthew 13:20-21). You managed to hang on, but you made little progress because you lack roots in God's word. "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ" (Romans 10:17).

Therefore, there are two things that need to change: You need to find reasons to study on your own and with other people -- and not just to find faults with yourself. You also need to get more radical with yourself to limit your access to pornography. Exactly how you would go about this will depend on what your habits are in regards to your lust. No one can make you study more or force you to stop looking at pornography, but you can find encouragement from brethren when you make progress and help to figure out what you need to change when you fail.

It is past time to end the procrastination. "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near" (Hebrews 10:23-25).

Response:

I needed to hear that. Thank you for taking the time to reply to me. I really appreciate it.

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