I have been doing well concerning abstaining from pornography. I suppose it has been over a year since I last involved myself in that mess. Prior to that, I had gone about three years without giving in to it. I certainly can’t say I have overcome that sin, but I guess I would say I’m trending in the right direction regarding it.
I hate to ask such questions as below and show my weakness. I just realize that I have really been such a wicked man in my life. I guess some of us delude ourselves into thinking we are pretty good people. I guess probably from a worldly viewpoint we are, but when I compare myself to the Bible and to Christ, I know I don’t measure up.
I know that I am so bad because I started out being raised in the truth from birth. My parents raised me in the church of Christ. I didn’t come forward to be immersed until my mid-teens. I had already been introduced to nasty things like Playboy as I suspect many boys are. I don't remember it getting really far until I got in college. Not to say I didn’t struggle in high school. I remember for sure having the issue become prevalent around the 12th grade. I never quit coming to church. I remained faithful to the assembly every Lord's day and every Wednesday. But I had this secret sin I was holding onto.
I got married in my early twenties and I guess I thought I would give this up once I was married. For years I was wrong. I guess I was addicted or something. Every time I would do this, I would just turn over and put my back to my wife in shame, not showing her the affection she deserved until I got over what I had done. The further you go into sin I think the less you resist it and your conviction may not feel as much.
When my grandmother passed away, it put me into some deeper thought about it all. I realized just how evil I was (not that I didn’t know I would go to hell if I didn’t give up my sins). I started getting really anxious, considering my sin and being lost for eternity. Within a year, I was in a tailspin about all of this. I couldn’t sleep and my heart was racing in fear. I dwelt on my sin against God all day every day. Finally, I found La Vista's website and WVBS on YouTube. I became educated even further on the Bible and made real progress, I thought.
I went over three years without falling into pornography. I thought I was well on track. Then I let it creep back in on me. I realized that again I was headed for Hell. There is no excuse for someone who knows as much as I do to go back into that again. I know that is pure evil.
I’m trying so hard. I try to speak to everyone I can about the Lord on a day-to-day basis. I look for opportunities at work. I try to teach others about how to become Christians. Obviously, to believe, repent, confess and be baptized, stay faithful, and come to the Lord's church. Some days I feel great, like I’m on cloud nine -- like I have the confidence that any Christian should have. Then other days or weeks I let thoughts about my past creep in and how evil and rebellious I have been throughout my life. I’m afraid I may have gone too far and hardened myself so much. Twenty years of repeated sin is terrible.
I know commentators are not inspired and we cannot take them as such. But I do have respect for James Burton Coffman and his writings, although, I don’t agree with everything he says. He talks a lot in his commentary about an eventual judicial hardening of folks like maybe in Pharaoh's case or in the case of stubborn rebellious Israel. Certainly, they hardened their own hearts, but eventually, they went so far that they were judicially hardened.
How would I be sure that I’ve not gone to the same extent as they? I’m not saying I agree with Coffman on this judicial hardening concept, but I was looking for your thoughts. I certainly realize that I deserve hell. I rebelled far too long against my Creator and His Son Jesus.
I know that I owe everything to God and Jesus. I don’t want to rebel anymore. I realize how bad I’ve been. When I repented a couple of years ago. It didn’t feel like the same old strong convictions I’ve always had. It felt like utter despair and just knowing I’ve gone so far with the realization that only hell awaits a sinner like me.
Sorry for the length of this email. I know you get bombarded with questions. Over the last year, I’ve felt great at times and down at times. It’s like I pump myself up with the right thoughts looking at Ezekiel 18, II Peter 3:9, etc. but then I later bring in the thoughts about my past snd the possibility that I've already judged myself unworthy.
"I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen" (I Timothy 1:12-17).
There isn't a man on this earth or in the past (beyond Jesus Christ) who deserves salvation. Each one of us has sinned. Yet, God chose to show us grace, not based on the number of deeds we have done but based on His love for His creation. You are viewing your life as earning God's gift but no one can do enough to make up for his sinful past, whether he sinned greatly or mildly.
As John pointed out, sin is going to happen. "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" (I John 1:8-10). This doesn't mean we give up and let sin happen. "What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?" (Romans 6:1-2). Instead, we battle temptation and the occasional slips into sin. But because of our commitment to God, we don't stay down. We get up to fight again. "For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again, but the wicked stumble in time of calamity" (Proverbs 24:16).
That last verse also hints at the answer to your question. A person goes too far into sin when they no longer care to get out of sin. "For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins" (Hebrews 10:26). It is the phrase "go on sinning willfully" that is key to what the Hebrews writer is expressing. Some people sin and they purposely stay in their sins, even when they know it is sin. For such people, there can be no expectation of salvation. It doesn't mean there is no hope of them changing in the future, but unless they change (and they aren't motivated to change), then they can only expect to face God's wrath.
You are not in such a position. Yes, Satan has attacked you in a weak spot. He waits until you been successful long enough that you drop your guard and then he punches you with temptations. Satan doesn't fight fair, which is why Peter said, "Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world" (I Peter 5:8-9).
Therefore, pick yourself back up. Analyze why you gave in and then make changes in your life so that it will be less likely to happen again in the future.