Not everyone who professes to be a Christian is really a Christian. That described me. I was raised by Christian parents who took me to church. I was taught right from wrong and knew many things from the Bible. At age eight I asked Jesus into my heart, walked an aisle, joined the local church, and was baptized. However, many areas of my life did not change. I wanted to be saved from hell but did not make him Lord in all areas of my life.
Lust spiraled into addiction.
At age ten, I saw pornography for the first time. I was visiting a friend’s house, and he brought out magazines. I knew in my heart and from my upbringing that this was wrong, but I chose to look anyway. I can still remember many of the images some 40 years later. This was the beginning of many wasted years of enslavement.
I continued to seek out opportunities to view pornographic magazines, even buying some from a friend in summer camp. They stayed hidden in my house and I continued to view them. My thought life became polluted as I lusted and fantasized about girls I saw at school. As Jesus warned in Matthew 5:29, I was committing adultery in my heart. In college, I began to purchase magazines from a local convenience store. I became isolated, preferring fantasy to authentic relationships. All the while I attended church, but my heart was far from God.
In my mid 30’s I discovered internet pornography and things took a turn for the worse. As I continued to view pornography, I found that I needed to view more hardcore images. I found myself on the downward spiral of sin (James 1:15). I continued to look at women around me with lustful thoughts.
I thought marriage would solve my porn problem.
When I married, I mistakenly believed I would no longer need pornography. During my second year of marriage, I began looking at internet pornography again. It really did not affect anyone but me, or so I thought. My wife did discover my secret. I went to counseling but really did not have the desire to give it up. My actions hurt my wife, negatively affected our intimate life, and made me emotionally distant, preferring images to her.
We appeared to be the happy couple, but behind the scenes, this was not the case. I continued attending and serving in the church. I was a fake who lived a double life. My pastor often said in his messages that saying a prayer did not mean you were a Christian if your life had not changed. Matthew 7:16 says, “You will recognize them by their fruit.”
Last year, my addiction to pornography got so out of control that I began viewing it on my work computer. I was willing to risk a good job and the means to help support my wife and kids, something I never thought I would be capable of doing. The downward spiral of sin continued. I did not believe I could ever change or even want to change. Despite my church involvement, I knew I would be one of those to whom Jesus would say in Matthew 7:21-23, “Depart from me, I never knew you.”
Conviction leads to repentance.
Last winter, the Holy Spirit began to convict me of my sins. I began to read Scripture that clearly convicted me that I was not a child of God. One such verse is 1 Corinthians 6:9. “Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Neither those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or men who practice homosexuality, or thieves, or the greedy, or drunkard, or revilers, or swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” Another verse was 1 John 1:6. “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness we lie and do not practice the truth.” Other scriptures were 1 John 3:9 and 1 Corinthians 10:13.
Last February 15, one day before my 51st birthday, I got down on my knees and repented of my sins, surrendering to Jesus as Savior AND Lord. You see, God, my relentless rescuer, saved me! Jesus has taken away my desire for pornography. He is restoring my marriage. He is teaching me to shepherd my two young daughters, raising them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). I have the satisfaction I could never find in my sins.
You’re not too late.
Do you think you have messed things up beyond repair? Do you think you have gone too far or too long in your sin? The Good News is that you have not! 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” It is the free gift of salvation that none of us deserve. It is all accomplished by the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross. It is all of God and none of us. I am so thankful that God no longer holds my sins against me, but instead looks upon the righteousness of his Son, Jesus!
Robert Clifton is a Christian man, saved from porn by the grace of God. He is married to a gracious wife and has two young children.