Can You Still be a Christian if You Keep Struggling with Sin?

Back when I was looking at porn on a regular basis and lying about it to my wife, I knew I wasn’t right with God, but I never knew how bad it really was.

I would pray secretly to God asking Him to fix me, and I tried to reassure myself that He was forgiving and patient. But I never submitted my secret life to Him or made Him my Lord and Savior.

Photo by Ezra Wolf, Flickr Creative Commons

Ezra Wolf, Flickr Creative Commons

In reality, pornography was my god, and I was trying to be my own savior. I was attempting to please God through my hard work, but I still believed deep down I could fix myself. In my honest moments, filled with remorse, I wondered whether I was a Christian at all. I now believe that was the Holy Spirit speaking to me.

Don’t get me wrong; I was a churchgoer and a Bible-reader. I prayed each day and taught my children about Jesus. I was even an elder in my church for a time, and I repeatedly shared my “faith” with others.

But those things won’t save anyone.

In spite of all those things, I was still a liar. I kept committing adultery in my heart. And the Bible seems pretty clear that you can’t be any of those things and be saved at the same time (1 Corinthians 6:9–10). For that matter, you can’t even be greedy, slander people, or be a thief either.

According to that verse, I was still one of the unrighteous. So how could I have been saved?

•••

I always believed I would know God more once I got my sin under control. Now I understand how wrong that assumption was, because once I surrendered my life to the Holy God, He was the one who got my sin under control.

Now, I’m not saying you can’t be a Christian and struggle with porn (or any sin for that matter). But what I can tell you, is when God changes your heart, sinful things lose their ability to draw you in. You won’t want to go back to the same sins over and over because they will no longer satisfy your new heart. Your new heart will be drawn to God the King.

This is why the Bible follows up its earlier comment about the unrighteous not inheriting the Kingdom by reminding the Corinthian believers that they’ve been changed:

And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:11).

These Christians used to be liars, thieves, and adulterers—but not anymore. Now, they are washed clean of their sin and set free by the blood of Christ. They are no longer defined as sinners! They are righteous (even though they clearly still struggled with sin).

The same becomes true of you when you meet Jesus Christ and He saves you from the power of sin. This, after all, is what he does.

If you find, however, in your most honest moments, that your deepest desire is still to sin, to fix yourself, to worship another god… then it’s imperative you consider whether you’re trusting Jesus to save you, or if your faith is still rooted in your own goodness.

Are you seeking Him with your whole heart, or are you still trying to save yourself?

•••

God came to me much like he came to Cain. He showed me that sin was crouching at my door and it wanted to have me (Genesis 4:7). And like Cain, rather than submitting to God, I slayed myself (and my wife) with my lying and my selfish lust.

Through that season though, God never stopped pursuing me out of love. This wasn’t always with soft hands and a warm embrace. At times I felt as if He was haunting me. He would convict me with Scripture and cause my spirit to become restless with the actions of my life. I realized I could never be a half-hearted but happy Christian. I could not escape His pursuit unless I surrendered to Him.

I would like to say that I eventually cried out to God, but the truth is, He came and saved me in spite of my stubborn pride. I had little to do with it.

God rescued me from my sin—and from myself.

God brought me to Himself when I insisted on looking for my own way.

The lesson to be learned from my story isn’t that God can make you into a more upright person. No, the lesson from my life is that God is the one who rescues.

Experiencing how He has released me from the slow poison of my wretched heart, to be free to love Him as my rescuer—that has become the joy of my life.


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