Ask Your Preacher
I have done something in my past that I truly regret… something I can’t seem to get off my mind. I pray every day to be forgiven of my sin; it’s torn me continuously apart. I know it was wrong, and it hasn't happened again. And it won’t ever happen again. Even though God has forgiven me of my sin and I know it was wrong, how can I forgive myself?
The problem isn’t with whether or not you can be forgiven – the problem is that you don’t feel forgiven. The two issues are very different. There are times when our head and our heart aren’t on the same page. Guilt can drive someone crazy if they don’t learn to keep things in proper perspective. God says that your heart can be wrong. You feel that you can’t be forgiven, but the Bible says you can. It is very similar to the problem that the apostle Paul faced. Paul had murdered christians and felt that he was the worst of the worst, but he learned that Jesus would forgive him (1 Tim 1:15-16).
The apostle John said it best, “By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before Him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and He knows everything.” (1 Jhn 3:19-20). Your act of faith is going to be letting go of your fears and trusting that living by God’s Word is what matters (Rom 10:17). Sometimes, our feelings can be fickle and wrong, and we’ve got to ignore them until time and life change them.
I am a born-again christian man, and I know all the risks involved in sin and have no excuse. I know what not to do, and yet, I continuously crawl toward my fleshly lusts, namely pornography. Why can't I stop? I know and want the promises of God, and yet, I fall short time and time again. I fear my sin will put me in my grave. Please help me to put this evil behind me and move toward what's right and true. Peace and blessings to you for all you do.
We are told that a powerful tool in defeating sin is confessing our sins to one another (Jas 5:16). Sin likes to be kept secret (Jhn 3:20), and bringing it to light by making it public goes a long way in defeating habitual sin. A very popular way of getting this sort of accountability is by using accountability software that forwards your browsing history to a friend or trusted individual. Companies like x3watch and CovenantEyes make accountability software, and many struggling pornography addicts have found it to make a huge difference. If you want to defeat sin, you must expose it. Confess your sin to others, and you will begin to see change. It is time to get serious about removing this sin. You know you are serious about defeating sin when you are willing to expose it at all costs. That is the single most effective advice we could give you. Some other details to consider:
- Bad company corrupts good morals (1 Cor 15:33). Don’t spend time around others who are okay with this behavior and remove all illicit materials from your home. Throwing away the pornography or moving the computer to a more public space of the house is a good first step to saving yourself from it (Matt 5:29).
- Don’t give up. A righteous man falls, but he keeps getting back up (Pr 24:16). A failure doesn’t become permanent until you let it. Keep trying.
- Get help from others. Trying to do things alone, especially when we’ve failed before, is just too hard. We are stronger when we enlist the help of friends and family (Eccl 4:9-12).
- Replace the bad habit with a good habit. It isn’t enough to simply stop something; that void must be filled with something else that is positive (Lk 11:24-26).
- Pray. God blesses us when we turn to Him (Jas 5:16) and ask for forgiveness and help (Jas 1:5).
Now is your chance to start a new life free from this addictive slavery to pornography. We would be happy to help you find a congregation in your area that can help you through this struggle and prepare you for a better and complete life in Christ. E-mail us at email@example.com if we can be of service.
If being gay is a sin, why did God make gay people?
Not Happy About It
Dear Not Happy About It,
Homosexuality is such a controversial issue because modern society teaches that people are born homosexual, but this simply isn’t true. You are not forced to have a sinful homosexual relationship. The argument of the homosexual community is that they are born desiring people of the same sex and that they have no choice. That simply cannot be true. God makes it clear that He will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able (1 Cor 10:13). Even if you are born with a predisposition toward homosexuality – you aren’t forced to act upon it. We always have a choice. There is always a way of escape from sin. We often use 1 Cor 10:13 as a proof text that no one is born “gay”. Homosexuality is like all other sins; we sin when we act upon the lust. God does not tempt us to sin (Jas 1:13). It is our own lusts that entice us to do the wrong thing (Jas 1:14-16). One person has a tendency toward anger, another has a tendency toward alcoholism, and some may, in fact, have a tendency toward homosexuality – but that tendency does not force them to sin. We need to put away all filthiness of the flesh and be doers of God’s Word (Jas 1:21-22).
If you know that you had done something sinful, or you said something wrong, but you didn’t know what it was, could you still confess to it and ask for forgiveness? If so, how could you know that you were truly forgiven? I know God can forgive any sin, but how many times do you have to ask to rest yourself assured that you are forgiven? I know the answer is once. I KNOW, BUT IT DOESN'T FEEL LIKE ENOUGH. Please help.
As you said, the answer is that you only need to ask once (1 Jn 1:9)... and that includes sins that you don't fully understand. David asked that God would keep him from "secret sins" (Ps 19:12-13). However, that really isn't your problem. Your problem is that it doesn't feel like you are forgiven because that seems too easy. God tells us that we must have faith in Him (Gal 3:26). Faith comes through hearing God's Word and trusting in that Word (Rom 10:17). Sometimes the Bible says things that we don't agree with or that we don't feel could be true... but that doesn't change the fact that they are right. When our feelings and God's Word disagree with each other, we are the ones that need to accept that we are wrong. God's grace is much more glorious than we can possibly imagine – we all will spend our entire lives trying to wrap our brains around the depths of God's love (Php 4:7).
Is it a sin to play Blackjack if I am skilled enough to hold an edge over the house?
Dear High Roller,
The Bible never specifically mentions gambling as a sin, but it doesn’t have to be specifically mentioned to be wrong. There are a great many things surrounding gambling that are sinful. Consider that:
- Gambling focuses around money and greed. God warns us clearly about being fixated with money (1 Tim 6:10, Heb 13:5). God wants us to be satisfied with our income (Eccl 5:10). Contentment is a major component of spiritual maturity (1 Tim 6:6).
- Gambling is used as a means to gain money without working for it. God finds pleasure in people working for their livelihood (2 Thess 3:10-12, Pr 10:4).
- Gambling wastes money because, ultimately, the house does always win. God expects us to be good stewards (1 Cor 4:2) and save for the future (Pr 6:6-8).
- Gambling and the places where gambling occurs are often associated with other sinful things. There is a reason Las Vegas is called “Sin City”. That industry is not one that a christian should be supporting (2 Cor 6:16-17).
Gambling is addictive. We can only have one master (Lk 16:13).