In my blog last week, I wrote about the confession of my addiction to pornography. The revelation, or confession, of my sin to God was the key to the gate of freedom. But I don’t think the gate really swung open for me until I began to repent. Revealing the ways that I sinned against God was the start. It put my heart in a posture of honesty. Repentance was the next step. It put my heart in a posture of humility. In its simplest terms, repentance is turning away from sin and turning back to God. But God taught me more than just turning.
Repentance involves the heart. Psalm 51:17 says, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” In the Old Testament the heart is the center of the human spirit. It is the wellspring of life. All emotions, actions, and thoughts come from the heart. I knew that my heart was not right with God because my thoughts and actions were not honoring to God. They were not in line with His commands. As I confessed to Him, I truly felt sorry about my sin. I realized the depth of my sin, and my heart was broken because my relationship with God was broken. So my repentance included a change of heart. It was not a decision to “do better.” I didn’t generate a list of things I should do differently. It meant thinking differently. Acknowledging my sin, God’s forgiveness, and the power of the Holy Spirit, I determined to “think better.” Not half-heartedly. Not with a divided heart. But with my whole heart.
Repentance involves the eyes. I also made the decision that I would not look in the same direction in which I had looked before. That direction had led to sin. The desire of my heart was not to be trapped by porn. The desire of my eyes was to see those things that were good and pure and right. Simply put, when I was looking at porn, my eyes were on that, looking for it at every opportunity. Now, God was calling me not just to look to the side to avoid seeing porn, not just to avert my eyes, not just to only catch a glimpse. He called me to physically turn and look in the opposite direction. To stop looking at what was in front of me and to start looking at Who was behind me. And when I turned 180 degrees away from porn, I looked into the face of Jesus. My eyes met His eyes. At first I had forgotten what He looked like. But the longer I looked, the clearer His face became. The more I looked, the less I wanted to look away. As I begin my time with Him each morning, I often ask Him to show me His face. I see Him because His Word is the revelation of His character—it is who He is. Where once I was drawn to the images of porn, now I am drawn to the image of Jesus. No turning back!
Repentance involves the feet. In the Old Testament, God repeatedly asked His people to return to Him. This certainly involved the heart. But God didn’t just ask His people to turn from their sin; He also asked them to return. To go back. To get moving. Back to the place where they had once been with Him. When I became a believer at the age of eleven, I became one with Christ. Over the years, partially owing to pornography, I wandered away from God. My distance from God grew greater until the idol of porn in my life drew me away from a close relationship with Him. My closeness to sin caused greater distance to God. With repentance came not only turning, but returning. As I literally walked away from sin, I grew further from my sin and closer to my Savior. Over the last three years I see that the depth of my relationship with God is in proportion to the distance from my sin. With the change in my heart, I began to walk toward Him. As I saw His face, I began to run to Him.
Ezekiel 18:30-32 says, “…Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit… Repent and live!”
My deliverance from an addiction to pornography was instantaneous. That’s not the normal occurrence. For those of you who have struggled for months, or years, or even decades, and are still in bondage to porn, there is hope. There’s no formula to follow to find deliverance. But the God who created you and then saved you also loves you, and His desire is for you to submit to His lordship and to His commands. There is forgiveness, and He is faithful. Next week I will be writing about renewing the mind.
By Greg Kerr
A note from TrueNorth’s founder:
Greg is my husband, and the bravest man I know. We are on a journey with God that has only grown sweeter as we have grown in honesty and transparency with each other and with God. If you missed Greg’s first message last week, Revealing the Heart, I hope you’ll go back and read it.
Our goal is to present grace-filled messages of hope for those who struggle with issues related to sexual sin or porn use, and for those who love them. At TrueNorth we share resources that can help you find true freedom in Christ. To subscribe to our newsletter and blog, click here. Thank you for reading, and we’d love to hear from you!
Founder and CEO of TrueNorth Freedom Project in Atlanta, Georgia
Photo credit: Dennis Ottink