Jesus calls every one of his followers to a life of continual repentance. This life consists of confessing our sins and then fighting them with all the helps God has given us, both spiritual and physical. Our ongoing confession is more than a simple acknowledgement of sin before God or the people around us. Confession means identifying yourself as a sinner: someone who is spiritually weak and whose perceptions and desires are not entirely trustworthy. It means probing the sources and nature of your spiritual weaknesses and finding in Jesus both the forgiveness that wipes away your sins and the new human nature that leads you forward to how you are meant to live. All of this is constantly happening within each individual Christian and within each congregation of the church. It is a constant bittersweet tide in our hearts: the Spirit floating us back towards the character of Christ. Repentance is not a moment but an ongoing function of the Spirit. And this function will not end until Jesus returns.
But we can also talk about a moment of repentance: the beginning or the first outward sign of someone turning away from sin and towards Jesus as the personification of God’s mercy. A great many of Jesus’ followers seem to have answered the call in one encounter: James and John leaving their father with the boats, or Matthew walking away from his tax collector’s booth. A life collides with Jesus and begins to move in an utterly different direction.
In this first post I will consider initial repentance in the specific area of pornography use. I can’t make anyone have such a moment – that is the work of the Spirit. But I will try provide some mental and theological support for what happens after that moment. When you collide with Jesus and realise that you can’t view pornography any more, what happens next?