5 minute read

Repenting of Porn Addiction (Part 2)

Last Updated: April 13, 2015

Luke Gilkerson

Luke Gilkerson has a BA in Philosophy and Religious Studies and an MA in Religion. He is the author of Coming Clean: Overcoming Lust Through Biblical Accountability and The Talk: 7 Lessons to Introduce Your Child to Biblical Sexuality. Luke and his wife Trisha blog at IntoxicatedOnLife.com

In my last post I gave a description of “repentance.”

In summary, when we look at 2 Corinthians 7:10-11, we can see the heartbeat of real repentance. Real repentance flows from a deeply felt grief that we’ve broken the heart of God, that we have offended Him. Real repentance produces:

  • an earnestness and diligence to move away from sin,
  • an eagerness to make amends and get to the root of the problem,
  • an indignation and hatred of the sin,
  • a fear and awe of the Lord that shakes us at our very core,
  • a longing and a thirst for God,
  • and a zeal and godly jealousy for worship of God alone, and to lay down our sexual and selfish idols.

My last point was that real repentance also involves changing the way we think about our submission to Christian community, the church. This last part of repentance is so important and so often misunderstood.

– – – –

Christian Community

People often have had bad experiences in the Christian community. Perhaps they have been a part of a church where discipline took a bad turn: people in power took advantage of their position to spread gossip, slander or lies. Sometimes Christian community can be a place of condemnation or legalism.

If this is you, I am sorry.

Christian community was meant to be a foretaste of heaven, not the backwash of hell. Imperfect as Christians are, the church was meant to be a place where broken and repentant Christ-followers come together to share their one common experience: the new life they have all found in Jesus. These renewed people together are meant to foster a new family of compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience; a family of men and women who bear each other’s burdens in the midst of the painful process of transformation; a place where forgiveness is status quo for all relationships. Above all, the church is mean to bear the marks of love, peace, and deep gratitude. It is to be a place where the family of God can cherish the teachings of Christ together: a place where His words fill their daily conversations, their songs, and their prayers (Colossians 3:12-17).

Again, if that is not your experience, I am sorry. You are meant for this kind of church.

But if we are to have real repentance, we must look and pray for a church family that is striving to be like this, and then we must submit ourselves to that community. Let me outline the reasons why:

– – – –

1. One of the roots of porn addiction is an unhealthy independence, self-centeredness, and pride.

I believe that when we peal back the layers of our heart, we will eventually find a root of pride that drives our focus on porn. This pride can lead us not only to the selfish pursuit of pleasures in pornography, but also can make us haughty, self-protective, and unapproachable—one who is not submissive to others, unable to be vulnerable with others, thus unable to love as Christ did.

I’m a newly married man, but one of the many things I have learned in a short time is that marriage is a yoking of one’s self to another in love, which will bring about a death to self. To be true to my call as a husband, to love my wife as Christ loved the church, I must lay aside my defensiveness and my selfishness, and serve my wife.

The same is true as we yoke ourselves to the community of the church. As we rub shoulders with others in the church, as we give them access to our lives, this brings about a process of death to our pride and self-centeredness.

Healing of our pride often begins with the first step of giving a few trusted people in the church access to our lives, giving them the right to rebuke us when they see a sinful pattern developing in us. Those who ignore wise correction are not on the path of true life (Proverbs 10:17); but if we submit ourselves to the teaching, correction, and rebuke of wise men and women in the church, we will gain understanding (15:32) and become wise (13:20).

– – – –

2. God promises healing to those who confess their sins to one another and pray for one another.

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16). The church is meant to be a place of mutual confession and powerful, face-to-face intercession, yet today too few people can say they are in a Christian fellowship such as this. We need to dare to confess our darkest sins. We need to dare to hear the sins of others. This is real accountability. Certainly, we must choose who we confess to and how we confess, with discernment and wisdom, but we need not fear vulnerability. Our churches need to strive towards righteousness which brings about dynamic prayer and a power that will deliver each other from the grip of sin.

If your problem with pornography is the Internet, use accountability software and find one or two trusted people who will talk to you regularly about what you see online. For more information about accountability software, go to CovenantEyes.com

– – – –

3. Close Christian community is one of the best tools God has given to expose the “deeper sins.”

I’ve been in a lot of Bible studies and small groups. These experiences have definitely had their place instructing me in the ways I should go. But there have been a precious few groups that have chosen to go deeper than merely teaching. The individuals in these groups chose to really know one another.

Hebrews 3:13 says, “But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” There is a level of interaction the church is called to have that few have really experienced. We are called to interact with one another in such a way that we can give honest and helpful feedback to one another, feedback that helps one another see how sin is operating at the heart level. It is easy to point out obvious sins to each other. But our call “every day” is to engage with each other and try to understand the deeper issues.

For an excellent treatment of how to do this, I will refer the reader to Dr. Larry Crabb’s, Inside Out. This book is, without a doubt, one of the best books I’ve read on the subject of deep change that can take place in the heart.

– – – –

4. The church is where God gives us spiritual fathers and mothers, mentors who can be used of God to shape our lives.

“Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. . . . Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:1-2). Consider what hope this passage brings to the young man or woman fighting with pornography temptations. We need those whom Paul called the ‘spiritual’ to take on the ministry of restoration. In Paul’s day, this term “restore” (katartizo) was a medical term for setting a broken bone. In our sinful, fractured selves, the work of a truly spiritual person is to set right another’s broken thoughts and beliefs with the tenderness and wisdom of a spiritual doctor.

And who are the spiritual people with this task? They are those who have a track record of walking in the Spirit (Galatians 5:25), who have the lasting fruit of a Christ-like character (5:22-23), who have eagerly waited on the Lord for righteousness to bloom in their lives and have found Him faithful (5:5). They are spiritual leaders who hear God regularly, obey His voice, and effectively model intimacy with God. They are the true elders and leaders who are experienced in healing the hurts caused by sin (James 5:13-16). They may not hold the status of “elder” at a church (many do not), but they are a true mentor in the faith.

With the porn epidemic on the rise, we are in a critical hour for spiritual leaders to arise and gather the flock, to restore them in gentleness.

  • Comments on: Repenting of Porn Addiction (Part 2)
    1. michael duffy on

      I have literally gotten mad at myself about this mater.If I am a man of GOD why do I keep putting myself in this hell?How can GOD still say well done thou good& faithful servant?How can I be an example of what GOD has done in my life, if I have this in my secret sins department.I am an ex-needle freak, I have been clean 14 yrs, but this is harder than any drug I have ever done.. please pray for me cause I don’t want to pass this curse down to my kids.

      Reply
    2. michael duffy on

      I didn’t tell you that i am living with aids from my past abuse so i really find that each day I get up is a blessing. I feel I have gone to war with this even more than the battle I have with my health. I feel that this might be the article that gives me the new found strength to fight this battle thank you very much as this has blessed me more than you will ever know, cause it is a blessing to be a blessing.

      Reply
    3. zach on

      so far you have been talking about me. everything you said relates to me. Man this sucks beyond anything. i got into this young. not as young as others but six grade is to young. i was only eleven. its been addiction ever since. It sucks…

      Reply
    4. Greg roberts on

      I am with you michael…Same here heavy drug use for years….gone,almost no memory of it. Sexual sin, porn, etc …never had real victory….please pray for me too !!

      Reply
    5. Greg Berg on

      The article is very powerful. I think pride sums up the problem which seems to be the root of my problem. I have had a struggle with addiction since a boy and hid it from everyone (including my lovely wife and kids) until my kids were all grown up. To keep it a secret and still call yourself a “Christian” is the ultimate in hypocrisy. I know the Bible and have made resolutions to no avail. Even made a public confession in church 3 years ago. You can go 2 years free and then get tempted and go back. It is like a drug and I hate the knowledge of evil! It is destroying me and my marriage. Need your prayers. i still love my wife, but she is already preparing to divorce me over this. Very sad.

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        So sorry to hear about your situation, Greg. Porn is a monster. Sin is a monster.

        What steps have you taken to distance yourself from the temptation? Have you found some good, regular accountability relationships in your life?

        If you’re looking for a place to start to find good accountability, consider downloading this free e-book: Coming Clean: Overcoming Lust Through Biblical Accountability. You might really enjoy it.

    6. aaron houston on

      God bless everyone, I’m 14 years old and have been struggling for two years; not w/ drugs or anything like that but with pornography and everything related to it. I’m living a blessed life as a Christian, but behind that my life is pathetic. I hate it, and I just want to be done with it before it’s too late.

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        Hi aaron,

        Who have you told about this and what have you done to distance yourself from it? I’d love to talk to you more about this.

    7. Greg Berg on

      Right now there is no computer in my house. Been disconnected. My wife even took the remotes to our TV since you can get the You Tube applications, etc on the blue-ray player. I did download the booklet and read it last night and this morning. Not sure how to approach my wife at all since she has heard all my apologies and resolutions before. She is currently seeing a divorce attorney today. I am really broken hearted.
      The mornings are the worst when I wake up and that is when the temptation was greatest. I feel sick and would do anything to go back prior to last Sunday morning. Our marriage was actually beginning to heal and now it was just atom bombed.

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        Hi Greg,

        Right now your wife needs to hear from your behavior, not just your words, that you are sorry and that you plan to not return to pornography. Do what you need to do and find the godly counsel you need to change. Do this regardless of how you believe your wife will respond. You must do what God says is wise and good, find good counsel, get to the root of your addiction, and distance yourself from temptation. Do this even if you wife never returns to you, because it is the right thing to do. Also, keep in mind, this is the exactly the behavior she needs to see in you for her to ever trust you again. I pray this is not the end of your marriage, and that by seeing a genuine change in you over time, her heart is warmed to the possibility that your marriage is not over.

    8. Jacob on

      I have a question. After reading this, I now know I have not repented completely and I need to ask God for even the help to repent. But my question is, if I were to die right now, or if the rapture were to happen, before I overcome the idolatry in my heart, would I go to Hell and not be raptured? This is what frightens me most. It paralyzes me so much sometimes that I can’t even think clearly enough to pray. I just sort of give up. I’m also struggling with a hefty eating disorder and I just feel like I can’t get raptured or make it to Heaven until I overcome 100%. Jesus even said only the overcomers will make it to Heaven..and I’m just asking if this is Biblical or not. I want to know if my concerns are valid (and please tell me the truth. I don’t want you telling me I’m okay when I’m really not), or if God’s grace is sufficient while I’m learning to overcome. I’m confused. Conflicted. And about to give up. I need help.

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        Hi Jacob,

        I am not God, so I do not know your heart, but I would urge to you to consider the following things.

        1. We are not saved from sin because we have overcome any specific sinful tendency. We are saved by grace through faith. This is a gift of God. If a man has genuine faith, repents of his sins, and turns to Christ for mercy, he is saved. Period. If he has the heart of the tax collector in the temple who cried out, “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner,” then he goes home justified. If he is hit by a chariot on the way home, he goes to heaven justified.

        2. Repentance is not a one time act. Remember the first words that the great Reformer Martin Luther nailed to the door, “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said ‘Repent,’ he intended that the entire life of believers should be repentance.” Repentance is never done because God is always unearthing sin in our hearts, always showing us just a little more of ourselves. God does this for his children.

        3. I encourage you to read through 1 John. This whole letter was written so that the reader would know if he has eternal life (1 John 5:13). This is exactly where you are.

        – Are you sensitive to sin and acknowledge the darkness of your sin (1:7-10)?
        – Is there a genuine desire in you to obey the word of God (2:3)?
        – Do you reject this evil world (2:15)?
        – Do you eagerly await Christ’s return (3:2-3)?
        – Do you see a decreasing pattern of sin in your life (3:4-10)?
        – Do you practice love to other Christians (2:9-11)?
        – Do you experienced answered prayer (5:13-15)?

        There’s much that can be gleaned from this book, but start there.

        4. If you are in doubt about your salvation, this recognize this: The struggle over assurance of one’s salvation due to repeated sin is actually one of God’s ways of prompting us to holiness.

        2 Peter 1:5-10 says, “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.”

        Catch that last sentence: be diligent to make your calling and election sure. By pursuing these virtues, we confirm to our own hearts that our election by God is true.

        If you have yet to truly repent of using pornography, then let this crisis of faith be the catalyst the prompts you to say, “I want to be sure of my salvation. I will cry out to God for help. I will ask him to show me. I will do whatever it takes, distancing myself from porn at all costs, in order to have this assurance in my heart.”

        Be encouraged. I do not know whether you are saved, but the fact that you are even concerned about it is a good sign that God might be at work in your heart. And God does not leave unfinished what he starts.

    9. Stanley on

      Thank you for being obedient to the Lord and posting this. I truly hate my sin, but it just won’t go away. I will re-study this post (and definitely study the passages relating to it) and continue in the war.

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        Good to hear, Stanley. I pray God will meet you in your sin and give grace. He always comes near to those who call on Him in truth.

    10. Thabiso on

      Hi, thank you for allowing God to use you Luke. I’m struggling with porn addiction and would love God to deliver me, most of all i want to know Him, love Him, honor Him by serving Him faithfully with all my being through the help of the Holy Spirit. I’m going to testify soon, i really thank God for this article.

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        Glad I could be of help!

    11. Brian on

      Brian,
      I am 17 years old, I was first introduced to Porn in my 15’s. At first I didn’t really recognize it as a big deal since the day I turned to Christ. It has been the worst nightmare. For some months now I have been struggling with it trying to get out of it. But every time I think I am out I fall and slide back into it. Something happened today and I found myself back into it. When I realised what I had done I felt worthless and got the fear to even approach God in Prayer. It is then that I found this website while I was trying to look for help. Your post is quite encouraging. In my case I had announced it to an elder youth brother but he didn’t pursuit me. I am really longing to grow up spiritually but this has been my barrier. It’s a burden that ain’t letting me go. I would ask you all to support me in prayers. I am planning to dedicate a fasting session to my problem and thereafter go and open it to my Pastor. I really wan’t this off my life. God bless you all and I do pray that there will be a breakthrough for all of you.

      Reply
      • Chris McKenna on

        Hello Brian, the struggle is very real, but victory is possible. The cross of Christ is for YOU! Would you read one more post? It’s simple, but I think it will help. The reality is that you, alone, will not be able to defeat this. Take a read and let me know what you think:

        https://www.covenanteyes.com/2010/05/13/3-biblical-strategies-for-fighting-lust/

        -Chris
        Covenant Eyes

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