Question from a Site Viewer
I am backsliding and losing faith. Why can’t I return to God and stay with Him?
Two years ago I wanted God to change me, to stop me from watching porn all the time, and to give me confidence. I wanted to trust in Him. I wanted to believe everything would be OK.
But when I try to get close to God by asking forgiveness of my sins, reading the Bible, and praying a lot, I still keep falling away from Him.
I am backsliding and losing faith but then I try to return to Him again. I pray and pray for God to direct my path, to come closer to me, to relax my spirit, and to speak to me, but nothing changes.
It feels like I am in a cycle of grief and I can’t get out no matter what I do. And I am getting worse every time. Why cant I just return to God and stay with Him and abide? What has to happen for me to take God seriously. What am I missing?
Tim’s Answer – The answer is nearer than you think
I appreciate your question. You say, “I am backsliding.” Fortunately, the answer is nearer than you may have thought.
None of us are animals. God created each of us with a will so that we make choices to do what is right or do what is wrong. God has not left us helpless. Accordingly, the problem is not with our helplessness, but rather with our desire. We look at pornography, lust after sex, money, fame, or pride, because these are things we want. Each of us are tempted in our own areas of vulnerability, areas where we have a desire to do our own thing notwithstanding what God says. Unless we address the desire, we will always be facing a losing battle.
Maturity in Christ is when our desire to please God becomes the controlling desire of our hearts. This is what Christ means when He quotes Deuteronomy 6:5 in stating that we should love our God with all of our hearts. When we weigh our desire for God against our desire for sex, where do we stand? Asked another way, in which desire do we invest more of our emotional and mental energy?
Pornography is a particularly deadly sin. Addiction to pornography can change the mind. It is the viper that appears so beautiful but is so full of deadly poison. We have addressed this subject elsewhere on the site.
But there is hope. What we choose to pursue is what will ultimately control our minds. If we choose to pursue righteousness, we will become slaves to righteousness. If we choose to pursue sin, we will become slaves of sin. This is the teaching of Romans 6. What we think about is what we become.
To fight the battle without changing the desire is to engage in the futility of the end of Romans 7. Victory comes as we focus our minds on doing His will, being His ambassadors, bringing the kingdom of heaven to this earth in a way that blesses people. Paul speaks of this in Romans 12:1-2, where he urges us to be transformed by the renewing of the mind, which he ties with presenting our bodies, including our eyes, as a living sacrifice.
He states in Colossians 3:1-3 that we should set our minds on heaven. The author of Hebrews tells us to look to Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). Walking with the Spirit is simply this, to stay in the Word and setting our minds on the relationship we have with God Himself. Everything that we do, in word or deed, we are to do all to the glory of God.
So, I encourage you to deepen your love for God. Focus on Him. Set your mind and body apart to Him. When you first begin to feel the urge to look at pornography, turn your mind back to Him. Flee from the temptation, not simply by saying “no” to the temptation, but by refocusing your mind on the beauty and calling of our God.
None of us are animals. We all can control what we do. Stated another way, few of us would ever watch pornography with our moms or with our pastors right beside us. We do not watch it when those we love are looking. Rather, we wait until a convenient time to watch it.
If we can keep from watching it when others are around, then we can keep from watching it when others are away. We have that control. The question is whether we will be like Joseph and esteem God’s values higher than sexual pleasure, or whether we will be like the one who lacks understanding of Proverbs 7. What we do when we are by ourselves defines our character and displays our true desire.
We want our desire to be for God. To do this, we need to draw close to God, practicing His presence in our lives day by day and moment by moment.
As you practice God’s presence in your life, when you find your mind beginning to delve into pornographic thoughts or any other sin; stop, repent, and refocus the mind on Scripture, or a spiritual song, or a prayer for someone in need. Learn to walk constantly with the Holy Spirit. You will find that if you engage in this battle, over time the lustful thoughts will become fewer and fewer and the times of fellowship with the Holy Spirit and with the saints will become longer and longer and sweeter and sweeter.
May the Lord Jesus and His Spirit guide you into the joy and pleasure of serving and loving God.