Q: What should I do if I desire God for the wrong reasons? To provide some context, I am in counseling for pornography addiction. I’ve been clean for almost 4 months now. However, I’ve been struggling with doubt and I don’t think I am a true Christian. I desire God because I want to be a better person; not for him sending Jesus to take the punishment for my sins. I know I should believe this, but I don’t. I desire people’s approval all the time and sometimes I feel like “I want to be God”. I often feel shame about who I am because I am not a good person nor is my heart good. I self loathe a lot. I feel I am a worse sinner than non-believers. I keep hearing, in sermons, that I need to “believe the gospel”. I try, but it feels fake and unauthentic. I’m not sure what to do. I will continue to pray, but I’m not sure if I need to do something more or God is just disciplining me.
A: First of all, praise God that you’ve been clean for 4 months! That is certainly something to celebrate and give thanks for.
Continued prayer is a great thing; keep at it! Also, I would recommend finding a solid, Biblical counselor (perhaps the same counselor you’re using for the pornography addiction) who can come alongside of you, in your specific situation, to help you work through these feelings in light of what scripture says. If possible, perhaps this could be your pastor, if you have one.
None of us has perfect faith. Even true Christians have seasons of doubt or periods in which they desire the world’s approval more than God’s. We’re all tempted in various ways. If you desire God because you want to be a “better person” and by “better person” you mean, more like Christ, then that is a good sign. I don’t think any of us fully comprehend the magnitude of what Christ did for us on the cross and, thankfully, we’re not required to fully grasp it before God saves us. We are only required to confess that Christ alone is Lord of our lives and believe that He was raised from the dead (Romans 10:9). Confessing Christ as Lord means that we strive to live our lives following after Christ and His teachings. It doesn’t mean being perfect all the time. It doesn’t mean we never have periods of doubt; for a period of time, Jesus’ own disciple Thomas doubted that He was actually raised from the dead (John 20:25).
So, I would encourage you to continue praying. Continue to read scripture and follow Christ. Continue to seek out godly counsel for your life. Don’t let your emotions be the driving force. Following Christ is an act of the will, not of the emotions. The more we willfully choose to deny ourselves and follow after Christ, the more our emotions will follow.
I’d like to pray for you again, if you don’t mind:
Father, I continue to lift up my brother. I ask that you would give him a clear understanding of his standing before you. If he is not a true Christian, please make that very clear to him and would you draw him to Christ for salvation. If he is indeed a true Christian, please make that clear to him and encourage and strengthen him in his faith. I give you thanks that he has been clean from pornography for 4 months now and I pray that he would continue to experience victory over this sin. I pray for godly men to come into his life to support him, encourage him, and guide him. I pray that this season of life would be just a small part of his testimony and his journey of faith. I ask that you would keep the enemy away from him so that he might grow strong in the Lord and strong in his faith. Grant his wisdom and clarity to see the truth, Lord. I ask these things in Christ’s name. Amen.