I’ve struggled a long time with pornography and masturbation. I’ve confessed to my bishop and met with him many times, but recently moved. I keep falling and making these same mistakes, but I repent each time. It is all I can do just to limit these addictions, despite seeking spiritual strength from daily scripture study and prayer. Am I worthy when I repeatedly make the same mistake? Am I truly forgiven when I can only forsake my sins for a short period of time?
First I commend you for your efforts in making yourself right before the Lord. Talking to your Bishop, praying, reading your scriptures are all very important and you should continue to do these things. May I make a suggestion that I think will be helpful?
My suggestion to you is study the Atonement of Jesus Christ specifically. Read all the scriptures you can find on the topic and then read them again. Read what church leaders have said on the topic of Christ’s Atonement. Then prayerfully consider what you have learned. That is where you will truly find the answer to your questions.
I will help you get started though:
” . . . the Atonement which can wash clean every stain no matter how difficult or how long or how many times repeated. The Atonement can put you free again to move forward, cleanly and worthily, to pursue that path that you have chosen in life.” Pres. Boyd K. Packer, The Plan of Happiness
Keep trying, and keep repenting! I love this next example from Elder Richard G. Scott:
“The joyful news for anyone who desires to be rid of the consequences of past poor choices is that the Lord sees weaknesses differently than He does rebellion. Whereas the Lord warns that unrepented rebellion will bring punishment, when the Lord speaks of weaknesses, it is always with mercy.
. . . Mercifully, [the Ammonite fathers] were taught the gospel, repented, and through the Atonement of Jesus Christ became spiritually much stronger than Satan’s enticements. It is likely they had not felt the temptation to return to their brutal past, yet by following their prophet-leader, they didn’t give Satan the chance to “[cheat] their souls, and [to lead] them away carefully down to hell.” The Savior’s Atonement not only cleansed them from sin, but because of their obedience to the counsel of their priesthood leader, the Savior was able to protect them from their weaknesses and strengthen them. Their humble, lifelong commitment to forsaking their sins did more to protect their families than anything they could have done on the battlefield. Their submission did not deprive them of blessings. It strengthened them and blessed them and blessed future generations.
The end of the story illuminates how the mercy of the Lord made “weak things become strong.” Elder Richard G. Scott, Personal Strength through the Atonement of Jesus Christ
As you can see, here Elder Scott is teaching how Christ, because of the Atonement, can, not only forgive us of our sins, but strengthen us in our weaknesses. I don’t think he is suggesting that will happen overnight, but it is a goal for you to strive for. As you do, your weaknesses can become strengths and your faith will increase.
These are but two examples of the answers that you can find through the scriptures and the inspired words of our leaders as you study about the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Don’t give up Oliver, Christ loves you and He knows your heart. He will strengthen you.