Question:

I am very embarrassed to bring this up -- embarrassed and very afraid. I am a Christian and have attended the church of Christ my entire life. As a teenager, I finally came forward in repentance and was immersed into Christ.

I struggled for a long long time -- over a decade -- asking for forgiveness over sexual sins. Looking at pornography is the issue here. Finally, I had a nervous breakdown over my fear surrounding this issue. I knew enough about the book of Hebrews to be very afraid. I confessed everything to the Lord and truly repented. I also confessed it all to my wife and apologized. She helped me get through this. I studied as hard as I could and was honestly in the best place I’ve ever been in my life.

I told myself I would never go back there. But here I am. I’ve done it again. I’ve repented and asked for forgiveness for the last several days. I can’t believe I’m back in this situation. I hate what I’ve done. I realize that I am nothing without God. My life has no meaning without Him, without Christ, without the Holy Spirit. I don’t want to lose my relationship with God. I’m so scared.

I should be so far past this. I’m in my thirties. I’ve been praying. I told my poor wife about this again. She is praying for me as well. I know I’m the worst of the worst.

I look at Hebrews 10:26, and I shriek with fear. I want so desperately to get this right with God. There is no joy in my life without Him. I’m so afraid that I’ve gone too far, that I’ve had my chances, and now there is nothing left for me.

Sorry for bothering you with this. I’ve known better. I don't know why I drifted again. Is my relationship with God beyond repair at this point? I’m so scared.

Answer:

I appreciate the trust you have in sharing your burden with me. I wish that it were otherwise, but the struggle against pornography has grown to be a common problem. "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it" (I Corinthians 10:13).

David noted that it is tough to hide sin. "When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long.  For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer.  I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide; I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD"; and You forgave the guilt of my sin.  Therefore, let everyone who is godly pray to You in a time when You may be found; surely in a flood of great waters they will not reach him" (Psalms 32:3-6). I think this is one reason we are encouraged to talk to others about the sins we struggle against. "Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much" (James 5:16).

One of the dangers of sin comes when we think we have it beaten. We tend to drop our guard and Satan uses that opportune time to attack us again. "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall" (I Corinthians 10:12). But the point of being a follower of God is that we don't let setbacks stop us. "For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again, but the wicked stumble in time of calamity" (Proverbs 24:16).

Hebrews 10:26 is talking about Christians who remain in sin, despite knowing that it is wrong. "For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries" (Hebrews 10:26-27). You had a setback, but it doesn't appear to me that you desire to remain in sin so this passage doesn't apply to your situation. God is always willing to forgive those who repent of their sins (Ezekiel 18:32), it is just that some refuse to repent.

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