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Defeat Lust & Pornography 5 minute read

Are You Repenting the Wrong Way?

Last Updated: October 6, 2015

How You Respond After Sinning Affects “The Next Time”

As crazy as it sounds, did you know that there’s actually a wrong way to repent?

The Bible teaches us that there is a right way and a wrong way to respond and relate to God after we’ve sinned. In my experience many well intentioned Christians are “repenting wrong” because they’ve never been taught the Bible’s way to repent.

Are your repenting the wrong way

Not only is this wrong repentance extremely emotionally unhealthy, but it actually produces more death and more sin. The damage this mentality does to your soul and your intimacy with God is far worse that the consequences of your sin itself, so in His wisdom, God will not help you overcome your sin if it means it affirms this mentality.

Right and wrong repentance is a much bigger deal than most people realize, and if you master the Bible’s way to repent after you sin, you’ll eliminate the spiritual rollercoaster of highs and lows. What’s more, you’ll be positioned for victory in a way you never had been before.

Godly Repentance

2 Corinthians 7:10 teaches us, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” The passage goes on to teach that godly sorrow produces zeal, indignation, vindication, vehement desire, and a host of other healthy spiritual and emotional fruit.

The fruit of right repentance is healthy emotion that brings us closer to God! Immediately after you’ve sinned, there are earmarks of a mature believer. Immediately after sinning, you should have a desire to run to God without shame and with confidence in the blood of Jesus. You should be more on fire for God after sinning than deflated, discouraged, and diminished. If these are not characteristics you see in your life when you’ve sinned, then you are wallowing in the dangerous waters of worldly sorrow.

The Sorrow that Produces Death

Of the 1000s of men who have come through Mighty Man Ministries, I’d say that all of them are struggling with worldly sorrow at the outset. After they’ve sinned, they come and say, “Help me. I can’t believe I blew it again. I thought I was past this,” etc., etc. They feel far from God. They are down in the dumps. Often they spiral downward into a season of sin that lasts days or weeks after a fall.

Then when they can’t stand wallowing in filth any longer, they try to pick themselves up, “put some distance” between themselves and their sin, get back into prayer, back into church, start walking the walk again, and vow they’ll never mess up again. Then crash. Back to it and the cycle starts all over. This is the model of a man stuck in worldly sorrow.

Worldly sorrow or “wrong repentance” produces more death. Why? It takes away God’s influence and power in your heart.

  • It shows that you trust the power of your sin more than you trust the power of Christ’s sacrifice for sin.
  • It shows that you trust your acceptance before God based on your works more than you trust your acceptance to be based in Christ’s works.
  • It shows that you are trying to clean up your own act rather than living as though you are already righteous and being sanctified by God.

You aren’t experiencing the intimacy and fellowship with God that heals the heart and gives you the ability to overcome sin. In the end, you are destined to forever get the same results—because apart from God’s grace, love, power, and work in your heart, you don’t have the tools for change. Spirituality comes from the Spirit and is not manufactured by man. This is why the Bible can say this worldly sorrow produces more death—it is hopelessly rooted in and relating to the old, dead man. Death produces more death.

Keep the Dead Man Dead

The apostle Paul struggled with sin too. In Romans 7 he talks about the fact that he doesn’t understand why he doesn’t do the good he wants to do but rather does the thing he hates. He concludes in verse 17 that it is no longer he who sins, but it is sin dwelling in his flesh. Paul at different times said that he was the chief of sinners—yet he was able to forget the things which are behind and go forward in Christ. He was able to do this because he stopped relating to himself and to God through “the old man” and started walking in the new man.

Too many believers keep resurrecting the dead man.

Over and over the Bible tells us to count ourselves dead to sin (Romans 6, Colossians 2-3). In this life, you’ll never be perfect in your natural self. After you overcome this sin, and the next sin, and the one after that, God will always have something new to work on in you. By making Christ a sacrifice for all sin—past, present and future—God, in His wisdom has made a way for us to never let sin interfere with our relationship with Him. This takes away the power of sin and gives you the ability to run to God as the new creation that the Bible says you are so that you can learn from your mistakes and receive everything you need from God to overcome and never fall for the enemy’s same tricks again.

Cultivating Godly Repentance

I made the decision long ago that I’d never let sin—something that has already been paid for by Jesus—cost me another moment of intimacy with God. You can and must make that decision also. A fall shouldn’t take away fellowship with God. It should propel us into fellowship with Him, and the amazing grace we have received should make the joy of our salvation more precious every time we receive it.

So we don’t come to God each time we sin as some lost man again needing to be saved—as though this sin wasn’t foreseen and already covered by the blood of Christ. So step 1 is to confess your sins to God (1 John 1:9), but then move on to greater things.

Step 2 in mature repentance is to remind yourself of God’s promises. I have a few life verses that I’ve called upon time and again after sinning. When I would be tempted to relate to Him in an unhealthy way, I would run to the throne of grace to find help, and I would “remind God” of His word (really I am just reminding my own soul). These are some of the things that I rehearsed to keep myself walking in the Spirit:

  • Right Now, Jesus, you are interceding for me! (Romans 8:34, Hebrews 7:25)
  • Father, You love me as much as you love Jesus! You are radically in love with me! (John 17:23; 15:9)
  • You’d die for me all over again if it were possible (Romans 5:8,9)
  • That wasn’t the real me; that was some dead guy sinning (Romans 7:20)
  • You aren’t condemning me and never will (Romans 8:1)
  • I am the righteousness of Christ and I can relate to You, Father, with the same confidence that Jesus has. There is nothing between us (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Praise God for these truths! This may seem so alien to you if you have been under shame and condemnation for a long time. But rehearse the truth until it goes deep into your heart. Something transformational happens when you run to God and begin to relate to Him in this way. You stop wallowing, and you start experiencing all the fruit 2 Corinthians 7 talks about: zeal, righteous indignation, fervent desire begins to spring up in your heart!

What’s more, you enter the place of intimacy with God that is absolutely necessary for Him to heal the heart issues that made you slip up in the first place. This is how we get over sin. This is how we mature. This is how we start to walk in the new man—even after blowing it! This is how grace becomes a tool that stops enabling sin but actually empowers us to stop sinning. This is how we receive the love of God in a powerful, meaningful way that causes a slip up to actually fuel our love for God rather than inhibit our love for God.

The Bible teaches that if anyone is able to keep God’s word, truly the love of God has been perfected in him. Until this love enters your heart, you don’t have the tools to get out of sin. This is how you start to get that love rooted in your heart so that God can do exceedingly and abundantly above all that you can ask or imagine!

If you want to go deeper in these truths, read my Mighty Man Manual to guide you in your journey into real and lasting freedom from pornography.

  1. Wow, this article was really a much needed wake up call for this worldly human. As someone who has been under the influence of my own flesh for 9 years now, I have tried and employed almost every trick in the book to keep myself from falling back into porn. And of late, after continuing the fall again and again, I have felt like my repentance comes with a surgical calm and coldness, devoid of the fruits of genuine repentance, which terrified me. Athough I manage to go a month or two without Porn, I constantly end up breaking again and wondering why God would even want a person like me, which was exactly where Satan wants you and I to stay.

    A month ago, I had this bizarre nightmare, a detailed and colourful apocalypse of my own making. In that dream, I felt like God had really left me to the whims and reprobate urges of my flesh. And then, without God in the equation, I was taken down by a LUCID set of events in a reality where the full extent of my lustful fantasies were realised. I saw my fantasies play out into sick and twisted encounters with women driven by their own carnal lusts, indulging in every sacrilegious and perverted act under the sun with yours truly. Did I like it? No. I’m fact, I was terrified. At one point, the dream ended where my desires caused pain to the other party and at the crux of all these temptations, the belle of the ball was an old flame from my past that I used to date (who was no longer in touch with me). And when the dream got to its climax, pun unfortunately intended, I found myself calling upon Jesus and suddenly being woken up from the nightmare at around 3 AM in tense shock. I could feel the Holy Spirit leading me to pray and read my Bible even at that hour as this dream felt different. And that was truly where, I felt that I had to make the conscious choice of picking a side of the fence where I’d like to be. For too long, I’ve been jumping back and forth not heeding God’s warning in Revelation 3:15-16, where Jesus says, “I wish you were cold or hot, but because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of my mouth.”

    I had to make a choice and it was only then when I suddenly comprehended and came to realise why Jesus was constantly warning us to practice sexual purity and righteousness. It dawned on me that it wasn’t for the sake of merely following rules or to be a ‘better’ person but to protect us from the monster that we could become if we let Satan take 100% control over our flesh. And when that happens and walk away from God, there are no more boundaries that can’t be broken or practices that are ‘out of bounds’. It’s open season, you’re Bugs Bunny and unlike Yosemite Sam, Satan’s shotgun will not miss it’s mark.

    To my shock and suprise, after praying that morning, I slept like a baby, knowing that my salvation was true because this time, I recognised the fruits of Godly sorrow and repentance. Quite to my shock, the next morning, that girl from my past texted me out of nowhere with a smooth compliment, probably intending to dig up our past romance, only to find her chat in my archive list of chats on Whatsapp. :)

    Thomas (With Jesus) – 1
    Satan – 0 (Clean Slate :) )

    So I agree one hundred percent with the author. We have to leave the dead man from our pasts dead. This article beautifully touches upon the VITAL role of genuine repentance and I pray that all of you who are reading this article learn to give up worldly sorrow for Godly sorrow as we have enough baggage and stress these days as it is, without adding on weight of this behemoth of a load that sexual guilt carries.

    Warm regards,
    Thomas.

  2. Dustin

    Hello All,

    I have a problem in that I have had sexual sin and sometimes I like it.
    I know it is wrong and the guilt comes and I repent, but then again I go back.
    How can I break free? I want out of this, I want to hate this and get a possible soul mate. I try to break free but always go back and sometimes enjoy it.
    I want Christ to use me in the way he wants, How can I separate from this flesh and let the spirit win? I have prayed and read scripture. I know I am on the wrong track somewhere, but cannot get it quite right.

    • Moriah Bowman

      Dustin,

      Thank you for your honesty in sharing your desire to change. Wanting to change is the first step towards recovery. Are you in this fight alone? Many others have shared with me their struggle to break free from addiction, simply because they are trying to heal by themselves. If you have a close friend, leader, or mentor whom you trust, reach out to them and ask them to pray for you, hold you accountable, and encourage you. This can be as simple as a daily text or using Covenant Eyes Screen Accountability to monitor your Internet activity.

      Keep fighting, friend! Freedom is achievable.
      Moriah

  3. David Hannwacker

    Well said Luke, I agree with you on your point here!

  4. Glad to find such an interesting post. We are mere flesh and blood and so vulnerable to sin and the devil’s crafty devices. There is only one way and that is to allow the Holy Spirit to reside in us. Christians should never feel shy to confess their sins to God and repent. Salvation is ours through Christ Jesus. Amen.

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