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I am a Christian but I've gone back into the world of sin. The guilt of it all has started to worry me. Is there a chance that I can be forgiven? Would I have to be baptised again?
Thank you for your question. It is encouraging to see your concern for your personal spiritual welfare and your desire to put right a period in your life where you acknowledge that you have been away from the Lord.
In response to your concern regarding whether you can be forgiven for this period of backsliding then the answer is: Yes. When Christ died on the cross for you He paid the penalty for all your sin; past, present and future. Our failings as Christians are not a surprise to Him. Provision for each failure was made at the cross.
God tells us: If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). God goes on to say through John; My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin, but if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous (1 John 2:1). That said, we must not use His willingness to forgive as an excuse to sin but realise that God has made provision if we do sin.
In the Gospel accounts we read of the failure of the Apostle Peter. We remember how he resolutely promised that he would follow Christ to the end even if it meant prison or death. Yet, as Jesus foretold, after Christ was arrested and taken to the High Priest’s house Peter was questioned about whether he was one of Jesus’ disciples and we find that three times, with oaths and curses, Peter blatantly denied that he was a follower of Jesus Christ. What was Christ’s response to this? Christ not only forgave Peter for his failure but fully restored him, giving Him a responsible role in the life of the church. Interestingly it was Peter who had previously asked Jesus a question about how often you should forgive someone who sins against you. Peter’s suggestion was 7 times. Jesus responded by saying not just seven but seventy times seven! How much more will Christ Himself practice what He preached?
The fact that you are experiencing guilt suggests that the Spirit of God is at work in your life seeking to make you aware of your spiritual condition and prompt you to do something about it. God forgives our sin in response to our confession of it but also we must repent of that sin. Sometimes as Christians we can be guilty of wanting the consequences of our sin to be removed, such as the guilt in your particular case, without tackling the root issue: the sin itself. If tackling the sin itself involves repentance we need to be clear about what repentance actually is if this is important for our restoration.
In John 21 when Christ was restoring Peter He did not ask Peter to give Him a commitment that he would not deny Him again in the future but rather Christ asked Peter if He loved Him. This tells us that repentance is not so much about us making a commitment to change our behaviour and not do what we did again, but rather repentance is a turning away from doing what we want to loving our Saviour. Repentance is first and foremost a turning away from ourselves to the Lord and as we do that the Lord will work through us to change our behaviour. It’s not about us saying we will change but rather turning to the Lord and recognising that we need Him to change us. Repentance is first and foremost turning to a person, trusting a person, loving a person and that person is Christ.
In reference to your question regarding do you need to be baptised again there is no suggestion in Scripture that this is a requirement every time we fail. Baptism is symbolic of that complete cleansing of our sin when Christ saved us and once and forever cleansed and justified us in the sight of God. What should mark the forgiveness of our failures is a new joy and love for the Lord.
In summary, as Christians we do fail but God has made provision for this and is willing to forgive us as we confess that sin and turn again to Him. Our turning to Him must not simply be a desire to see the consequences of our sin removed but rather a desire to have a renewed relationship with Christ.
I do hope this general answer to your question goes some way to helping you find peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord. If you want to know more about what Jesus has done for you please watch the video on the main part of our site: www.lookingforGod.com
In closing, I want to encourage you to get more involved with your local church. It would be good to speak to a Christian leader or another trusted church individual regarding your question. I know they would be delighted to further answer you as well as offer prayer and support as you continue your spiritual journey:
Please use our Interactive Answer Matrix and feel free to ask another question. Our helpful staff are praying for you and waiting to try and answer to you from the Bible, and will be delighted to tell you more about Jesus Christ the Lord, the Saviour of the world.
Here are some more Bible Verses for your further consideration:
- Gospel of John 21 (the full chapter)
- Matthew 18:21-22
- Mark 2:1-12
*All Scripture references are taken From The English Standard Version of the Holy Bible unless stated otherwise
*If anything in this answer affects you directly, then please feel free to call our confidential prayer line in the UK on 0845 4567729, where trained Christian volunteers will take your call and pray both for you and with you. If you are outside of the UK then you may submit your request for prayer on line at www.ucb.co.uk/prayerline
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